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.