Around the region, homeowners have been stringing lights, draping garland, and hanging wreaths - some more elaborately than others. It takes time, money, and holiday passion. Among the families interviewed, a common theme emerged: Create a display that will make people happy and put them in the holiday spirit. The inspirations, however, vary.

The Melendes home, of Stephen, Marcy, and twins Jack and Craig, is at Coles Mill Road and Grove Street, Haddonfield.

What was the inspiration for the display?

Decorating grew from a family event to a complex light show the Melendes family offers as a gift to the community. The larger display unfolded about four years ago, when the family added colorful lights to the towering blue spruce close to the road. That year, the Melendeses received a thank-you note from a neighbor who was terminally ill. She loved seeing the tree that gave her a reason to look outside each night. It gave her hope, she wrote. Since then, the Melendes family has added more decorations, with a spectacular display perched on a hill above the Cooper River.

How long have you been doing the display?

The family moved into the house about nine years ago and began decorating modestly with white lights on bushes close to the home. With such a spectacular display, vehicles with passengers from nursing homes or nearby churches come annually to view the lights.

When do you start decorating?

Decorating spans several weekends, with the goal to start the display the weekend after Thanksgiving and lights on each night until Three Kings Day, or mid-January.

What is the utility bill?

Extra costs for the display are spread out over the year. The family has started to blend LEDs that are more efficient.

What do the neighbors think?

A nearby neighbor said her family, with young children, enjoys the festive spirit and the visitors who come each year. She said they also take their kids to see other elaborate displays in the area.

The Christian home, of Mark, Janis, and Steven, is at 53 W. Park Blvd., Haddon Township.

What was the inspiration for the display?

Mark's father in 1961 won an award for his display of holiday lights, which changed colors. That was unusual at the time. Mark Christian carried on the tradition, and his son, a Drexel University student majoring in electrical engineering, took it to a new level. With a musical background as a trombone player, Steven programmed a dramatic display that is synchronized with several songs, including "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and "Christmas Canon."

How long have you been doing the display?

The musical display started about a decade ago, improving over the years with more songs and decorations. Passersby can listen to the music in their cars by tuning in to 90.5 FM.

When do you start decorating?

It took Steven 150 hours to program 15 minutes of music. The family traditionally begins setting up the weekend after Thanksgiving, flipping on the lights for the public Dec. 1, and shutting down the display Dec. 31.

What is the utility bill?

The electrical bill is about $100 more in December due to the display.

What do the neighbors think?

A neighbor across the street said she appreciates the show and the joy it brings to the Westmont neighborhood. One driver stopped recently and quickly told Steven more people should have his holiday spirit.

The Simone home, of Carol and John, is at Southampton and London Roads in Somerton, Northeast Philadelphia.

What was the inspiration for the display?

The corner rowhouse has a display that stretches across three sides of the structure from the sidewalk to the home. It is the couple's way to make others happy and take away their sorrow. Carol tries to create a fantasy land seen through the eyes of children with a display that features a mermaid in a pond, an iceberg with a polar bear and penguins, and a holiday train.

How long have you been doing the display?

Decorating started about 20 years ago. Each year neighbors have seen creative features added to the display by the Simones, who have a remodeling business.

When do you start decorating?

For 2016, the couple started decorating later than usual because of illness. Normally they start near Thanksgiving and finish close to Christmas. This year, they hope to be done by Christmas Eve. Because the Simones work during the day, they spend their nights decorating, often outside until midnight.

What is the utility bill?

Costs of running the display are high, with an extra $200 a month on the electrical bill.

What do the neighbors think?

Neighbors tell the family they enjoy the display, some leaving notes or a donation to help pay to keep the lights on. Although Christmas is the couple's largest display, they decorate throughout the year for other special occasions, including Halloween and Easter.

- Barbara Boyer
bboyer@phillynews.com

856-779-3838@BBBoyer