A dad-of-two has spent £27,000 turning his home into a winter wonderland with thousands of decorations – including splashing out £1,000 on seven Christmas trees.
Lee Gilbert began decorating his house on November 4 to start spreading festive cheer early, even sacrificing his living room to build a carnival inspired Christmas Village costing £15,000 and adding £100 to his electricity bill.
The 58-year-old store assistant admits he “could barely sleep” as he began to plan this year’s decorations, taking eight days annual leave and working from 3.30am until 7.30pm every day to get it done.
His home in Evesham, Worcestershire, features seven Christmas trees, with two either side of his front door, and every single perfectly placed ornament will stay up until the end of February.
Lee says his love for extravagant decorations began following a trip to Florida in 2010 when he discovered the “unbelievable” Christmas shops the size of supermarkets in the US. Putting one item in his basket snowballed until he had spent £500 on festive goodies for his home in a single visit.
The first he ever bought was a bauble of Pluto, with his Disney collection growing over a decade, and he now returns to Florida every other year with a spare suitcase to stock up even more.
The dad kicked things off early this year, explaining: “When I noticed Christmas decorations are being put up early in shops, I thought why not?
“It is my favourite time of the year so I didn’t have to think twice. I’ve always loved Christmas but never in a million years thought my collection would be so big.
“But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve spent ten years collecting props for the village which now takes over my living room.”
His main Christmas village display is made up of fairground rides, with model carousels and rotating swings that bellow out catchphrases such as ‘roll up, roll up” and ‘scream if you want to go faster’.
There’s also festive-themed houses and toy shops, as Lee added: “It is like a military operation.
“My mind is on overdrive and I can barely sleep as I am thinking about what to put up first and where to put it.
“So I get up and start decorating at 3.30am – this way I can do it in peace whilst the dogs are asleep.
“If I was to start any later, I’d be up until 3am decorating so at least this way I can relax on the evening and unwind.
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“All of the decorations are stored in a cupboard under the stairs – which is hard to believe as there is so many of them.
“It takes a lot of time and dedication to make sure my house is full of festive cheer.
“I am working every day in December except for Christmas and Boxing day so now was the perfect time.”
The main seven foot five artificial tree is laden with about £10,000 worth of decorations, many of which have now become collectables, and Lee says each one holds happy memories from trips to America.
There’s also plenty going on outside the house, and Lee said his neighbours are “wowed” by his efforts.
“I often see little children walking past and pointing with their mouths open,” he said. “They are in awe with all the lights which is great because I am too.
“I really hope our lit up home makes families who walk by feel happy.
“I usually take my decorations down at the end of February so I am chuffed that they can stay up for four whole months this year!
“Surprisingly, my electricity bill is just an extra £100.”