O Christmas Tree!

For a few short weeks each winter, they stand as beacons on town commons and brighten windows of homes. Many tell stories, festooned with ornaments accumulated and passed down through generations.

And in Johnny Appleseed Country, they take center stage in museum galleries, historical society rooms and public halls for all to enjoy.

Ideas Galore

Looking for ideas for a new theme for your holiday decorating? Head to Gardner, for the Gardner Museum’s annual Festival of Trees. From November 9 through December 2, you can wander through the rooms of the Museum, getting inspiration from dozens of tree decorated by local individuals, businesses and community groups. You never know what you might see at this event that’s been running for more than a decade: themes based on popular movie characters, New England sports teams, and various modes of transportation. Trees with baby items and beach gear.  Santas and snowmen. Dogs and ducks. And along with the light-hearted decorations, there are likely to be trees with Victorian, Colonial or contemporary themes, too.

Adding to the fun is the raffle. Yes, you could win one of these creative conifers — and take it home in time for your own holiday season!

Want more?

Visit Leominster City Hall for that city’s Festival of Trees, running from November 27 to December 17. The city also hosts a Winter Stroll through the downtown district on December 2, when you can take in the decorated windows of local stores and watch the lighting of the tree.

Prefer to see those decorations in context? How about taking a holiday house tour? Historical societies and homeowners in Fitchburg, Leominster, Winchendon and Westminster will be rolling out the red carpet, inviting visitors to see trees — and so much more! Staircase railings, fireplace mantles, dining room tables, porches … home-decorating ideas roll out endlessly at these local fund-raising events. Check the calendar section of this Guide for details.

Tree, check. Lights, check. Tinsel, got it. Now let your imagination run wild — with a little help from these community showcases!