I remember one December day some years back when I piled my daughter and aunt into the car and headed up to Lewiston for the annual holiday tour of homes. Yes, I had laundry waiting for me back home, shopping to do and a long list of errands to tackle.
But still we went - and had a lovely, memorable afternoon.
Home tours are fun any time of the year, but at Christmastime, they're not only inspiring decor-wise, but they can also give you the break you need during a most hectic time of the year.
Here are several tours we have heard about:
The Christmas Tour of Homes in the Southtowns has returned for the first time since 2012. Seven decorated houses are expected to be open for viewing from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Dec. 4. They are located in the Town and Village of Hamburg - and one near the lake - and feature a townhouse, ranch, Cape Cod, Dutch Colonial and new Colonial home with open floor plan. The event benefits the ministries of Hamburg United Methodist Church.
HUMC will be open to greet tour-goers with cookies and beverages; gift baskets will be raffled.
Ticket information: Tickets are $25 and available now at HUMC, 116 Union St.; Lockwood's Greenhouses, 4484 Clark St.; and Expressions Floral & Gift Shoppe, 59 Main St., Hamburg. Call HUMC at 649-8080 for information.
The Historic Association of Lewiston 12th annual Tour of Homes is scheduled to take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 3 and 4. Five homes of various styles and ages will be decorated and will feature festive tablescapes. Activities also include a dessert sampling reception and holiday gift market at the Barton Hill Hotel. The tour coincides with the Lewiston Christmas Walk - complete with carriage rides, carolers, outdoor entertainment and more.
Ticket information: Presale tickets to the Lewiston Tour of Homes are available now for $25 online; they are $30 on tour day. They also can be purchased at DiCamillo Bakery, 535 Center St., the Barton Hill Hotel, 100 Center St., and the Orange Cat Coffee Company, 703 Center St. and Wegmans.
Secrets of Allentown Holiday Tour of Homes is also back this year for the first time since 2011. It is scheduled to take place from noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 11, with starting times at noon and 2 p.m. It is presented by the Allentown Association and the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site and features six private residences in Allentown's National Historic District, including two 6,000-square foot mansions. The tour begins at the TR Site, 641 Delaware Ave., where ticket-holders will pick up tour books listing locations on the self-guided tour. They will also have the opportunity to view rooms on the first floor of the historic house decorated for the Site's annual Victorian Christmas festivities.
Ticket information: Secrets of Allentown timed tickets are $35 and limited so advance purchase is recommended. The Allentown Association's headquarters house, 61 College St., will be open; public rest rooms, hot cocoa and coffee will be available. First Presbyterian Church on Symphone Circle will also be decorated and open to the public for rest rooms and refreshments. Tour parking is available at the TR Site and a free trolley will make stops at houses on the tour.
Explore Buffalo, along with the Palace Theatre, has scheduled a Lockport Tour of Homes from noon to 4 p.m. Nov. 19, where several of the homes will be decorated early for the holidays. Tickets are $30 and can be made through the Palace Theatre website.
In addition, Explore Buffalo is putting on a Christmas Spotlight Home Tour from 4 to 8 p.m. Dec. 15. Tour-goers will visit the first floor of the Eoannou mansion on Chapin Parkway, which was also featured on the 2016 Twilight Tour of Homes in June. Vintage and eclectic holiday decorations, including a Christmas sleigh from the old AM&As department store, will be displayed.
Ticket information: General admission is $15 and two time options are available - 4 to 6 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Planners note visitors can come any time during that two-hour period. Advance tickets are recommended but will also be sold at the door.