Holiday hijinks and decorating fun

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The Independent has drawn on its expertise and put together a holiday decorating duo unmatched in their randomness when it comes to what exactly constitutes great outdoor Christmas decorating. One likes traditional, one only knows what he doesn’t like.
Sports Editor Scott Akanewich and staff writer Anthony Flores, both longtime fans of holiday decorations, have promised to find a way to work together in the harmony of the holiday to give each display a fair shake. A referee may be necessary, but on Dec. 16-17 the team will hit the road to visit the nominees around town using a yet-to-be-determined scoring system to name the champion holiday decorator in Liberty Hill.
There’s still time to nominate a neighbor or friend, or even yourself, to be considered for this honor. Call The Independent office at (512) 778-5577 or e-mail mike@lhindependent.com to toss your name into the Santa hat for consideration.

You’re Grinchin’ me out
Scott Akanewich

Okay, so let’s get one thing perfectly clear right off the top.
No Grinch.
Now, I know a lot of people out there seem to have an affinity for the famous Dr. Seuss Christmas character, but when it comes to my role as one of the judges for The Independent’s Christmas Decoration contest, it’s certainly one way to get a DQ (and we don’t mean Dairy Queen).
As in disqualified.
Immediately with no questions asked.
In fact, the rest of your display could be absolutely exquisite – doesn’t matter.
No Grinch.
However, as Mayor of Pantherville, a little Purple-and-Gold will certainly get one rather far on the grading scale.
Or a whole lot.
Sure, red and green are the two primary Christmas colors, but some Panthers pigmentation can only enhance any yuletide display.
So, that’s the first two things competitors should know.
One thing which will win you bonus points and another which will do the opposite.
We’re more a traditionalist when it comes to holiday decorations, so do it up right.
You know, a healthy dose of Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – you all know thew usual suspects.
Just no Grinch.
In fact, we would even welcome Darth Vader as part of a cheery Christmas display – but not the mean, green guy.
Also, despite the fact we love sports, we don’t necessarily need to see Dallas Cowboys (or any other team in any other sport, for that matter) dominating a display.
Okay, sure a few sports-themed ornaments here and there, but certainly not an entire tree decked out in team colors.
There’s also a fine line between going all-in and over the top.
Lights, lights and more lights is what we want.
But, we don’t want so many lights they all cancel each other out.
Also, no trees with all one color light.
Especially blue.
What’s blue about Christmas?
Just looks funny – and we’re not looking for funny here, but classic and classy.
We also like any kind of animated characters with moving parts, like Santa waving at passers-by, for example or a reindeer whose nose which actually glows red.
Even Disney is cool, as long as no one character dominates the proceedings.
Sure, “Frozen” might seem like a perfect parallel to Christmas with the snow-and-ice theme and all, just go easy with it.
So, in summary, Purple-and-Gold might not get you a win, but the Grinch will certainly guarantee a loss.
So, choose wisely.
Because we’re not all winners.
Even at Christmas.

We’re not all winners
Anthony Flores

Decorating for Christmas can be a tricky thing, there’s such a variety of decorations to choose from, and it can be overwhelming at times.
Constant questions: what are the right color lights; are we going solid colors or are we mixing it up; what style of light bulb; who gets to be the big dog in your yard, Santa, Frosty or does Joseph pull a hail Mary for the starring role?
I believe a perfectly decorated yard is one that knows how to not overdo it. Simple goes a long way.
First things first, choose a theme. You don’t have to strictly stick to that theme, but it helps to provide an outline of what the rest of the yard should look like.
For example, if you have a nativity scene then make that the focal point and decorate to complement it. Don’t be the person who sticks Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus in a winter wonderland next to Santa and his reindeer.
Maybe I’m just a stickler for a neat and tidy display. Maybe I spent the better part of my childhood having to see a cluttered mess of famous Christmas icons duking it out for some attention to the neighbor’s front yard.
Secondly, choose colors that complement each other when choosing Christmas lights. If you’ve decided to use solid colors then go with the classics – red, green, blue and white. Multi-colored lights are also always a welcome sight.
Be generous with your lights but don’t make it so that the brightness of the lights kills the ability to see the colors. When I see Christmas lights, I want to be able to see the colors.
My mother always kept things simple when it came to Christmas lights, meticulously making sure colors didn’t overlap and always making a point of keeping red, white and blue lights separate because “this is Christmas, not the Fourth of July Anthony.”
To complete my holy trinity of outdoor decoration tips, be creative. Sure, you can go and buy all kinds of expensive decorations, but why not try homemade?
Instead of dishing out way too much money on a small plastic snowman that barely lights up, get three white trash bags and fill them up with leaves, newspapers, or whatever your heart desires. Stack them up on top of one another and use some sort of adhesive to make sure he doesn’t fall apart. Stick on those arms, use a marker to draw a face and you have a homemade Frosty.
Living in little old Mercedes, Texas, meant 75 degree winters and that meant thinking out of the box. Being forced to improvise in that kind of way gives me an appreciation for those homemade decorations.
All in all, I just don’t like a cluttery mess that looks like random things thrown together. I prefer a nice, neat and well thought out presentation for the biggest holiday of the year.
We all have our quirks when it comes to how we decorate for the holidays, but when it comes down to it, we’re all just trying to embrace the spirit of the season in our unique ways.

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