Annual Christmas décor contest set for Dec. 15-21

Published 6:20 pm Thursday, December 5, 2019

Some prefer the traditional — garlands of evergreen and live wreaths studded with tiny white lights. Others go for a more contemporary décor, perhaps strands of icicle lights topped by a near-life-sized version of Santa’s sleigh pulled by reindeer. Still others are more whimsical when it comes to Christmas, incorporating giant, inflatable cartoon characters to frame their winter wonderland.

Whether it’s one, the other or a combination of all of the above, every home in the City of Washington has been entered into the Spirit of Christmas competition.

The annual holiday decorating contest is held by the City of Washington. First and second prizes are given out in four categories: residential properties within the historic district; residential properties outside the historic district; commercial properties inside the historic district; and commercial properties outside the historic district. First-place winners in each category receive a $50 credit on their next Washington Utilities’ bills; second-place winners receive a $25 credit each.

IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD: A past winner of Spirit of Christmas incorporated many lighted characters at their Smallwood home. (Daily News)

“I’m really excited to see how people decorate their properties this year. It’s always beautiful to see what they do,” said Emily Rebert, the City of Washington’s historic preservation planner. “As a historic preservationist, I grew up with the traditional white lights and natural decorations that we’d go out and collect on walks — branches and berries — but I appreciate the fun stuff too; people doing the lawn ornaments. They create an impact, and people enjoy them.”

Rebert is heading up the committee that will set out on nights between Dec. 15 and Dec. 21 to find winners in each category. In the past several years, the contest has been judged by police officers patrolling through the city at night. This year, however, not only is there a committee, but Rebert is encouraging people to nominate candidates for the prizes.

CLASSIC CHRISTMAS: White lights, red bows and greenery turned this Washington home into a winner in a past Spirit of Christmas competition. (Daily News)

“If you would like to nominate yourself or nominate someone, please email or call me and give the address. Property owners are welcome to nominate themselves or neighbors,” Rebert said.

Opening up Spirit of Christmas to nominations is a matter of practicality, as the committee can’t possibly cover all of Washington.

“People are sometimes tucked back in nooks and crannies. We’re not going get to every street,” Rebert said.

Over the past four years she’s headed up the contest, Rebert said she’s seen decorating get more elaborate — especially in her own neighborhood of Smallwood.

“Year after year, it’s fun to see them build off of what they’ve done in previous years. I do have neighbors that go all out, it just gets more and more and each year it’s fun to see what they add,” Rebert said.

No one has to enter the contest and winners will be informed the week after judging. To nominate a property in any one of the four categories, email Emily Rebert at or call her at 252-946-0897.