By Cecilla Chan, GSN Managing Editor
Every inch of Cindy and Bill Hunter’s 2,700-square-foot house in Gilbert shouts Christmas.
This year, the couple started unpacking their 85 tubs of ornaments, lights and other Christmas decorations during the third weekend of September. Most of the tubs are stored on shelves from floor to ceiling in their one-car garage.
“We are a Christmas house,” said Cindy Hunter, 59. “We love Christmas.”
By Thanksgiving week, the house was fully decked out with six Christmas trees, 80,000 lights, close to 400 Santas and nearly 3,000 snowmen.
Since 2010, the Hunters have opened up their home for the public to come in and enjoy some of their Christmas cheer.
“Lot of people think we are crazy,” Cindy Hunter said. “‘Why open your home, aren’t you afraid?’ We try not to think of that. We think people who take the time to come through our home are well-minded people.”
Every room, including the laundry, is festooned with Yuletide knickknacks. The rooms have their own theme – there’s an angel room and an elf room and even a room where children can touch and play with all things Christmas.
“We keep on trying to add as much as possible,” said Hunter, whose goal this year is to attract 2,000 visitors. Previous years drew in 1,200 visitors.
“We are thinking about Christmas all year long, so we are constantly on the look out for Christmas stuff,” Hunter said.
She adds to her already hefty stockpile with buys on the internet, especially from estate sales.
“Estate sales have more of the Christmasy, older versions of Christmas,” Hunter said. “One thing I do is I still put icicles on my trees.”
Her 9-foot-tall tree has 10,000 silver tinsel strands dripping from its branches.
There are rare repeats in her collection. There are only two to three ceramic pieces that she will have a double of, she said.
“Lot of the time, I can see a snowman and know if we have it or not,” she said.
She estimated her energy bill increases by $150 extra a month with all the lights and Christmas inflatables.
She has no idea how much money she has spent over the years amassing her Christmas collection.
She first started decorating her house to the hilt and inviting the public back in Indiana in 2002.
Her husband, she said, has embraced her appetite for the Christmas season.
“When me and my husband got together, he knew I loved Christmas and I was never able to do the things that I wanted to do,” she said.
“My mom was a single parent and she made all my Christmases awesome, but there were many years that I didn’t have those awesome Christmases. But being with my husband now, he made it all worthwhile for me. He has a love for it as much as I do.”
A surprise the Hunters are keeping under wraps until visitors arrive to their Christmas abode involves their 4-foot-tall Olaf, a snowman from the 2013 animated film “Frozen.”
“You will have to come and see what he is doing this year,” she said.
If You Go
What: Hunters’ Christmas Wonderland
When: 6-10 p.m., Dec. 15, 22, 26, 27, 29 and 30.
Where: 2467 E. Aris Drive, Gilbert