Want to get into the holiday spirit -- without having to scale a shaky ladder in freezing temperatures to dress up your home in twinkling lights? Why not pay someone to do it for you?
The dazzling displays you see in theme parks and in department stores can now adorn your front lawn -- if you're willing to pay for it.
A Bright Idea
When Chicago-area resident Bob Martin decided he didn't want to put up his own lights, he looked around, but had trouble finding anyone who could do the job.
"I had looked for someone to put my lights up and couldn't find them and said, 'Hmm'," said Martin.
So he started his own company, Bright Ideas Inc., to fill the void.
Though the company's client list was thin at the outset, Martin says he now decorates more than 100 homes every holiday season.
An important factor in driving business to the Bright Ideas crew is convenience. Just ask Dan Whitfield what he does when a bulb in his display burns out.
"I get on the phone and call these guys and they come out with a bulb," Whitfield said, chuckling.
It's all about having someone else do the work -- and do it well. And when the holidays are over, you don't have to worry about cleaning up. Bright Ideas will take down the display for you.
"We design it, install it, we maintain it, we take it down and store it," said one of Martin's employees.
The process begins in September when Bright Lights begins hauling huge displays, wreaths and lights out of its warehouse. Soon workers are installing them at houses big and small.
This year, technology is playing a part in bringing the light displays to life. Using computer software, Martin can create a custom light show completely controlled from the comfort of his customers' living room.
But this kind of holiday help doesn't come cheap. Displays by Bright Lights start at $1,000.
The Fetzer family paid considerably more for a setup that Santa would have to be blind to miss.
"Growing up, we always drove by the houses to look at the decorations," said Shannon Fetzer. "It is so nice to be one of those houses now."
Those willing to pay not to do the work themselves are limited only by cost and imagination.
But for traditionalists like Jeff Boubelik, it just wouldn't be Christmas if he weren't freezing on a ladder.
"I've always done it," said Boublik. "I'm old-school this way."