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Who Needs HGTV? Cranberry Christmas House Tour Inspires Holiday Decor

Proceeds from the annual event benefit local nonprofits.

When visitors walk through the homes featured this year on the Cranberry Women’s Club's annual Christmas House Tour, event co-chairwoman Gina Bianchi hopes they take with them the gift of a good idea.

“Gosh, there are so many clever homes they should be on HGTV," she said. "We have some really, really clever people. I just hope everyone comes away with one great idea they can do in their own home.”

Now in its ninth year, the event will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday and feature seven area homes done up for the holidays. Bianchi said the unique décor ranges from glitzy and girly to a home featuring gorgeous handmade tree skirts.

“There are a lot of themes and different ideas,” she said. “I think there’s something for everyone.”

All seven homes are new to the tour for 2011. Although some popular houses have been featured year after year, Bianchi said good word of mouth led to residents calling her this year to volunteer their abodes for the event.

“They’re seeking us out,” she said. “Anybody with a small townhouse to a large mansion is able to be on the tour because we like to have a nice variety.”

Plus, it’s fun, said Bianchi, who speaks from experience.

Bianchi's home was featured twice on the tour. During that time she came up with her own holiday idea to share by whipping up a hot chocolate drink garnished with a red-and-white candy cane that had guests begging for the recipe.

“So many people said, 'I want to do that. This so cute,'” she said.

Tourists pick up their registration packets, including a map and a description of the homes, at the on Sunday just before the start of the self-guided tour.

While enjoying the melodies of the Cranberry Civic Chorale members, who will be on hand to serenade guests, each person also will receive a goody bag and be registered to win door prizes.

Bianchi hopes people also will take a few minutes to explore the Holiday Gallery of Trees inside the center.

Area nonprofits decorated each tree. For a donation of $1, visitors may choose their favorite tree. Their donations benefit the organization that decorated their chosen tree.

Proceeds from the $20 house tour tickets also will benefit local charity groups.

Bianchi said the Woman’s Club typically designates one charity to receive funds from the house tour. This year, the club will instead pool the earnings from the house tour, the and the Women’s Tea held in the spring to distribute among seven local nonprofits, including the , Gleaners Food Bank and more.

Between the three events, Bianchi said the club hopes to raise about $15,000.

“It’s a win-win situation,” she said. “You’re having a good time, but the money all goes to charity.”

Of the 225 pre-sale tickets, a limited number still are available for the tour. For more information or to buy a ticket, call Bianchi at 724-772-8904.

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