Three Pratt County families are getting ready for about 350 visitors in early December. Even before Thanksgiving, their homes were beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and by Dec. 2, everything will be in place for the annual Laureate Chi Christmas Home Tour.
"We have three beautiful homes that will get everyone in the Christmas spirit," said Brenda Riffey, tour chairperson.
Advance tickets are required and can be purchased at Parsons Jewelry, Memories, from Janice Norman at the Edward Jones office at 401 S. Main, from any club member, or by calling 672-7812 and leaving a message.
The $8 tickets allow the sorority to make gifts to South Wind Hospice, Glenda's Kids, holiday lights at Lemon and Sixth Street Parks, the Pratt Area Humane Society, the Pratt Teen Center, Women's Health Center, Agape Health Clinic, the proposed City Park, Red Cross, Teen Center and other local needs.
Two of the homes are located west of Pratt and one is right in town. Ticket holders can visit the homes in any order they like and enjoy refreshments at Parkwood Village, 401 Rochester. Lou Lynne Moss, owner of The Flower Shoppe, has assisted some homeowners with decorating.
Phil and Susie Farmer have incorporated bits of Pratt and family history in their home, built in 2001 on the former Doskocil property. The Farmers offered the old house for salvage before final demolition to create a "clean slate" for the home they wanted.
Visitors may sit on a green vinyl bench from the mezzanine of the former Jetts store, owned by the Farmer family, to put on the booties that protect floors from hundreds of feet. There will be a Jetts display inside.
The fireplace hearth is marble salvaged from the 1939 Pratt High restrooms, when they were remodeled to make them handicapped accessible. Phil Farmer's childhood bunk beds are in a basement bedroom. The pool table downstairs was bought at a TLC sale at the Christmann home and is said to have come from a Pratt pool hall, according to Susie Farmer.
An avid bargain hunter, she has used the pickings from being in the right place at the right time in her decorating. When the Dillards store at the Hutchinson Mall closed last summer, Farmer was able to buy eight trees, 30 feet of garland, two large wreaths, ornaments and 1000 never-used twinkling lights intended for store displays.
"She cleaned up," Phil said, noting that the pickup bed was full, all for $45.
"I love decorating," Susie said. She has even placed some decorations in the shop, which will be open for the tour.
Phil will be present, to watch over two 1957 Chevrolets, a 1952 Studebaker and a 1971 Buick Skylark he has restored and exhibits at area car shows.
The home of Stuart and Teri Briggeman, located west of Cullison, was built in 1993. Before they built the house, however, the Briggemans planted trees and dug a pond to create an environment where they can look out the windows and not see a single man-made thing.
A pair of planters — quite possibly the largest in Pratt County — created by applying broken tiles in a mosaic pattern to concrete culverts, stand at the head of the driveway. The planters are in scale with the substantial stone pillars that flank the entrance to the home and oversized ceramic fish decorations on the walls and soffits. A 9-foot Christmas tree, decorated in red, is the holiday highlight of the living room.
The Briggemans have updated through the years, on the "one room a year" plan.
"I think we're about done," Stuart Briggeman said, adding that until they began preparing for the tour, he didn't know so many things needed attention.
Before Thanksgiving, the downstairs bar was minus its top and Teri still needed to add the finishing touch to a unique window well treatment.
It was love at first sight for Anel Cox, when she and husband Bobby looked at their house four years ago.
"I liked that it was unfinished," she said. "There was not even a front door and no kitchen. I got to finish it the way I wanted."
The hardwood floors and the open plan appealed to her — and the fact that the downstairs is "one big old playground" for their three boys. They have petitioned for a refrigerator downstairs, so they don't even have to come up for meals, but she has held firm on that.
The kitchen in the center of the house includes many custom features, like pull-out spice racks and shelves, a pot filler at the range, a second sink for prep work or rinsing pots and a double refrigerator-freezer combination. She explained the placement of the microwave — low, because she's short and people tend to shrink as they get older.
The north side of the living area has plenty of natural light from large windows overlooking a deck and manicured back yard.
The house was built in 2003, but the previous owners had not lived in it. The Coxes added the kitchen, completed the landscaping and corrected several problems with plumbing and wiring. The house is located on 40th Avenue, four miles west of Pratt, and is the second house on the west side of the road.