ARLINGTON — We all need some extra holiday cheer this year, so Brandi Smith is mapping out where to find it.
Smith, 30, of Arlington, is curating a Snohomish County map of Christmas lights and decorations. She is sharing the Google map on Facebook via a Christmas Lights Map event scheduled Dec. 18-31 — although most, if not all, of the lights have already been put up.
More than 2,200 fans have already marked that they’re “interested” or “going” to the Facebook event.
So far, Smith has added 390 home addresses to the map. If you want to submit your address, there’s still time. Smith will continue to add to the map through Dec. 21.
“This way, families can plan a route and go enjoy some Christmas cheer together in a safe and socially distanced way,” Smith said.
This is not Smith’s first COVID-19 holiday map. She also made one for Halloween via Facebook this year.
That map, which covered homes in Arlington, Marysville and Stanwood, featured where to safely trick-or-treat and/or see spooky decorations, plus a few Halloween events. A total of 312 addresses were pinpointed on the map by Oct. 31.
The Halloween map was meant to help families plan out a trick-or-treat route that followed COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. Smith decided to curate a map for Christmas because one she made for Halloween had such a great turnout.
This map features where to drive by to see residential decorations, large and small, plus some holiday events. Most of the addresses pinpointed on the map so far are in Arlington, Marysville, Lake Stevens, Snohomish and Everett.
Smith is overjoyed that her Christmas map has already surpassed the number of addresses she shared for Halloween. That was a goal of hers.
“As a child, my family would drive around our neighborhood to see all the lights every year during the Christmas season,” she said. “I wanted to share that fun tradition with the community.”
She recommends you pack along some hot cocoa, candy canes and popcorn to enjoy in the car as you look at all the Christmas decorations. Her family snacked after driving around for an hour or so. “It’s really yummy to dip popcorn into hot cocoa,” Smith said.
A number of fans on Facebook have expressed how much they are looking forward to seeing the lights.
Kelsi Brisebois loves the idea of the Christmas map. Her family of four from Arlington has already gone out and about to enjoy the decorations.
“It’s an awesome way to get out,” said Brisebois, whose house is on the map. “You can drive around, or even park and walk past some houses. It was a great way to get out and have some normal in this weird year.”
Last weekend, she and her husband mapped out a route close to home so they could have a COVID-19-safe dinner and show. He drove the car around to all the Christmas lights, while she was in the backseat with their daughters, 2 and 1, managing dinner and pointing out decorations.
“We plan on doing it each weekend, to a different part we hadn’t visited,” Brisebois said. “We drove less than 10 minutes to get to a great section of lights.”
She suggests a drive to the Gleneagle neighborhood west of the Arlington Municipal Airport to see all the Christmas decorations.
Jessica Mannino is another fan of Smith’s map. Her husband, their 2-year-old son and her parents have gone on a few Christmas lights tours around Monroe, so next time they go, they plan to drive into Arlington.
“This year has been the first year he’s really been excited to see all the lights and decorations,” Mannino said of their son, “so we’re excited to take him out to places with a lot of lights.”
The Mannino house is on the Christmas map. They have nearly 50 inflatable decorations set up at their Monroe home — not to mention all the lights they’ve strung up on the house.
“Unfortunately, we are one of only a couple houses in our immediate neighborhood that decorated, but if you drive around the Fryelands, you’ll see a lot of cool houses,” she said.
Mannino likes that you can get a sneak peek of some of the houses on the Christmas Lights Map Facebook event page. You can scroll through photos to get an idea of what’s out there.
Sarah Carney in Everett is also planning to go out to see decorations on the map.
The Martinez-Carney house also is on the map. Theirs features strings of lights, wreathes, lighted reindeer and a few inflatables.
“A lot of people have a few lights up in the Eastmont area,” Carney said. “And there are a couple of developments nearby that do. Pioneer Trails is across 35th Avenue SE from us and there are usually a lot.”
Carney, her fiance and their 3-year-old daughter like to drive around to see decorations the week before Christmas. It gets them into the spirit of the season.
Of course, the Smith house is on this year’s map. Their decorations include a couple of inflatables, about 15 tinsel and light pieces, a blow mold nativity set and lights on the house. She said it’s not a small display, but it’s not large either.
“I’d say it’s more mid-sized, although we do add to it every year,” she said.
In addition to adding to the Christmas map, Smith is counting down the days until Christmas on the event page.
Smith said she plans to make the Halloween Trick-or-Treat and Christmas Light maps a yearly tradition. “I have so much fun with it,” she said.
Do you have Christmas lights and decorations worth a drive by?
Check out the Christmas Lights Map Facebook event at fb.me/e/e7yHXKJsb.
If you’re touring Everett’s Christmas lights, plan a drive downtown.
The Downtown Everett Association is adding some “merry and bright” to Everett this season. In addition to the city’s lighted Christmas tree on the quadrangle above Hewitt and Colby avenues, this year you will also see eight lighted snowflakes that are 6-feet in diameter and four pole-mounted wreaths on the corners.