Though it's still a week until Thanksgiving, it already looks like Christmas at the home of Karon and Orlando Martinez. A huge wreath hangs on the exterior wall of their brick home at Chateau Elan. Gold stockings can be found on the front door. A sleigh sits on the front porch.
Inside the Martinez house, holiday accents have been added to every room. A tree complements the Southwestern decor of the terrace level, while another tree stands on the main level.
The couple put up decorations early so their house would be ready for "It's a Wonderful House Tour of Homes." The tour will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the Chateau Elan residential community.
The tour offers ideas for holiday decorating and will raise money for the Gwinnett Children's Shelter. "This year, we want to raise $125,000, and we're well on track for that," said Lynn Price of "It's a Wonderful House Tour of Homes."
Five houses, including the Martinez house, are part of the tour. The event is coordinated by 300 volunteers.
"It really takes the whole community to pull together to do this," Price said.
Volunteer tour guides will show each home. Visitors to the Martinez home will see an upstairs bedroom that was recently redecorated for the couple's grandchildren. The room has a Cirque du Soleil theme. A closet door has been painted to look like a ticket booth, while murals depict the performers from the circus. An multicolored bedspread looks like the top of a circus tent.
At the Cowan home, dolls are on display. "I've collected dolls from all over the world," said JoAnn Cowan.
In an upstairs playroom, life-sized toddler dolls decorate a Christmas tree, while a train circles the scene. In another room, a snow-covered village can be seen.
Another of the six Christmas trees in the Cowans' house is decorated with a collection of stuffed toys and dolls. Every toy on the tree is from her family's past.
"This tree is my memory tree," Cowan said.