While admiring twinkling decorations in South Florida neighborhoods, perhaps you’ll spy Santa soaking in a tub. A bright green bathtub. Santa, jolly and bearded as always, is scrubbing his back.
The inflatable Santa, spiced up with animated action, is among this year’s holiday décor that features extra pizzazz.
As the region struts its festive glitz and whimsy, we’ve scouted out some fresh merchandise, hot trends and snappy design ideas. •
• Super smart ornaments: Well-dressed and wielding a baton, Maestro Mouse is impressive. He’s featured on the Lights and Sounds of Christmas ornament, where he accommodates voice requests for Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls, Joy to the World and a slew of other songs. The mouse also synchronizes lights on the tree to blink along with the tunes he plays. Maestro also accepts voice requests to turn the tree lights on and off. Available for about $40 at Home Depot stores and HomeDepot.com
• Light show in the living room: Lowe’s offers a pre-lit musical tree that synchronizes its multicolor LED lights to perform dancing patterns to music — holiday tunes or anything else. Music is selected from the user’s own MP3 player, which is not included. The tree is equipped with a speaker and connection for the electronic device. A remote control offers 11 functions. The Holiday Living 7.5-foot Musical Artificial Christmas Tree is about $350 at Lowe’s stores and Lowes.com.
• Showy and simple: For plenty of effect without much hassle, inflatables offer a wide selection of showpieces for adorning the front yard. The selection at Lowes.com and Lowe’s stores includes a 14-foot-tall Santa, about $250. Along with Santa in a tub, about $70, the animated versions at Lowe’s include Santa poised on a tractor, happily jiggling side to side, about $90.
Nutcracker figures offer an unplugged no-fuss approach to decorating. A staff member at South Miami Ace Home Center suggests flanking a garland-wrapped door with a pair, or partnering a few in the yard with poinsettias. The store sells a variety of nutcrackers, from 3 1/2- to 6 feet tall, at prices ranging from about $230 to $600.
To set the scene indoors, switch out everyday household items with eye-grabbing holiday replacements. For example, a shapely green elf boot doubles as a wine holder, about $15 at Kirkland’s.
• Light shows outside: LED lights offer a variety of colors and animated effects, including icicles that seem to be dripping. The selection of LED icicles at some Ace stores and AceHardware.com includes Gemmy 10.5-inch Multi-Colored LED Shooting Star Trim Lighting, about $42.
Professional holiday decorating firms are adding some dazzling lighting effects to South Florida homes. David Schindler of Christmas Décor Southeast, a holiday decorating business based in Fort Lauderdale, said he occasionally works with LED pin spotlights to shoot beams of color to select areas. A new effect uses high-tech laser projectors to enhance a tall tree or other area with what looks like thousands of teeny fireflies.
Mark David of Sugar Plums and Fancy, another professional holiday design and decorating firm in Fort Lauderdale, encourages his clients to add more vibrant colors to their outdoor light displays, rather than rely on only clear lights. In addition to bright reds and greens, he likes blends of purple and blue. Especially popular with clients, he said, is amber. Amber and red. Or amber and clear.
David recommends coordinating color schemes indoors and out, but with a different twist for the inside and outside. As an example, he suggested, amber and red outside and amber and clear inside. Regardless of the palette, David generally incorporates clear lights into a design with colored lights to enhance the effect. “It makes the colors pop more,’’ he said.
• Red and green — or turquoise and tangerine: The hot trends in fashion and home décor often seep into holiday-theme merchandise and styles — especially in items such as ornaments and tabletop pieces.
Frances Herrera, of Frances Herrera Interior Design in Fort Lauderdale, said hot, trendy hues that translate nicely into a holiday theme include shades of turquoise and blues, possibly paired with tangerine or crisp lemon yellow hues. “I love it,” she said. “I think the combination is beautiful. It’s very fashion forward.”
With two hues selected from those families, she suggests layering in a neutral tone or animal print, and definitely metallic sparkle. Gold and bronze are hot, she says.
The staff at Kirkland’s stores report that blues, teals and other peacock hues are grabbing some of the holiday spotlight.
For another way to add untraditional color, the selection of artificial trees at Target.com, South Miami Ace Home Center and various other merchants includes offbeat hues. Examples: turquoise, electric blue, lime green. Mark David from Sugar Plums and Fancy said red trees with red lights are a spectacular look. Prices of artificial trees in various colors and heights range from about $10 to $300.
• Styles and trends: Decorating around a theme is popular this year in holiday spruce-ups, said Catherine Pliess, program coordinator of Interior Design and Industrial Design at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. Folks seem to be putting more attention into the design aspects of their holiday makeovers. Among the popular themes, she said, is an old-school, hand-crafted look. Another trendy look, she said, features a blend of burlap and silver glass.
• This and that: For a twist on typical holiday figures, a 120-light Sparkle Peacock blinks in a 59-inch-wide display piece, at select Home Depot stores for about $90.
AceHardware.com and some Ace stores offer an 8-inch USB-powered red wreath with red LED bulbs that light up when plugged into a computer, about $4.50.
Monogram ornaments are a hot item at Kirkland’s, the staff reports, and include an assortment of glass balls with initials featured on background patterns such as red leopard, pink zebra and green argyle. The indoor ornaments are about $7 at Kirklands.com and some Kirkland’s stores. A 12-inch outdoor monogram ornament is about $30 at kirklands.com
Gingerbread figures and houses are hot at South Miami Ace Home Center. Gingerbread houses in pastel hues provide a variation on the usual look. Gingerbread ornaments range from about $4 to $15. Display pieces are $25 to $100.