MATTOON — Not hosting a Thanksgiving dinner this year gave Heidi House a head start on decorating her family's home for Christmas, a pursuit that brings her great joy.
"I think this is why I do decorate early. I love to sit and look at the decorations and enjoy them for as long as I can," House said. "I just want to have plenty of time to enjoy it — the holiday spirit. It makes me happy."
Now, House has made preparations to share the holiday spirit and her love of decorating with the community. The 2019 PEO Christmas Walk will showcase decorations at House's residence, 12 Sugar Creek Lane, and four other Mattoon homes from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.
The Mattoon based Chapter KQ of the PEO Sisterhood's third annual walk will also feature the homes of Kelly Scott, 109 Oman Court; Heidi Lucier, 112 Oman Court; Kurt and Terry Stretch, 3345 Prairie Ave.; and Tom and Linda Niemeyer, 5150 Lerna Road.
PEO Chapter KQ member Cheryl Body said visitors can start the walk at any of the five participating homes. She said route maps, which also serve as walk tickets, will be available for $10 per person at each home. Entry will be free for those ages 12 and under.
Homemade holiday treats will be served at select homes on the walk and a fundraising holiday craft show featuring the work of PEO members will be held at the Niemeyer home. Crafts will include Christmas aprons, wooden decorations, and snowman ornaments.
Body said the local chapter of PEO, which stands for Philanthropic Educational Organization, has found the Christmas walk to be a good fundraiser for its scholarships and other education support programs for local women.
"The walk provides a fresh perspective on the season. It's fun to see how other people decorate and get ideas," Body said. "It's also a social event. People get together with their friends."
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House, who is an English and language arts teacher at Mattoon Middle School, said this will be the first Christmas for her and her family at their new home, which they moved to in March.
The open concept floor plan of the home that House shares with her husband, Brodie, and their 2-year-old son, Ruger, encompasses a dining room, kitchen, living room, and sun room.
"With that being so open, all of my ornaments have to jibe. They have to go together because of it being such an open concept," House said.
House has filled this space with a variety of treasured older ornaments and with newer ones. She has three decorated Christmas trees, with a possible fourth in the works. Her decorations also include greenery, snowmen and snowflakes, and Ruger's favorite — reindeer.
"Decorating is something that I love to do," House said, adding that her hobby is interior decorating. "I always love to decorate, not just for the holidays, but all the time."