For 40 years, neighborhood families have meticulously rearranged their homes’ holiday décor and furniture for strangers to admire, all for the sake of charity. The Lake Highlands Women’s League organized the first Holiday in the Highlands in 1978, and there have been a few tweaks to the event over the years. The president of the league is no longer required to feature her home on the tour. Inclement weather in 2013 spurred the addition of evening hours. And the volunteers who guide visitors through each abode are called “docents” instead of “madams.” All things considered, the tour volunteer’s dedication hasn’t wavered, even when ice threatens to cancel the event entirely. With help from the league’s members, we’ve taken a look back at the past four decades to revisit the Holiday in the Highlands’ most memorable moments.

Best of the Decades

The home tour curse: when your child announces a wedding engagement after you accept co-chair duties. The curse has left several women to plan a wedding and the tour simultaneously.

Every year, two women volunteer as home tour co-chairs; they select the homes and plan the events. They always feature homes in both the Forest Meadow and Lake Highlands junior high schools’ attendance zones. Sometimes they begin sifting through homes as early as March. “That’s the trickiest part of being home tour chair because all these people give you houses to go look at,” says league member Beth Hanks, who chaired the tour in 2006.

Then, of course, there’s the home tour curse: when your child announces a wedding engagement after you accept co-chair duties. The curse has left several women to plan a wedding and the tour simultaneously.

MOST MEMORABLE

There are a few things you can expect to see during Holiday in the Highlands, like immaculately clean houses and festive Christmas decorations. Every now and then, a home deviates from the norm. Enter the Trail Hill Drive house highlighted on the 2012 home tour. Its claim to fame? Taxidermy. Lots and lots of it.

This year’s tour is slated for Friday, Dec. 7, from 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m.

Here are the homes featured on this year’s tour:

1960s ranch
at 10032 Ferndale Road

One-story traditional
at 9214 Middle Glen Drive

Mid-century modern
at 10845 Eden Roc Drive

Two-story modern farmhouse
at 9161 Vintage Oaks Court

Home tour etiquette

Do: Head to the tour between 2-4 p.m. when there’s no wait time.

Don’t: Attend the tour as soon as it opens, unless you don’t mind waiting in line.

Do: Ask the docents questions about the artwork, furniture and other décor.

Don’t: Open cabinets and closet doors. We hope that’s obvious.

Do: Be patient when the houses are crowded.

Don’t: Bring your camera, for the sake of homeowners’ privacy.

Do: Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll definitely hit 10,000 steps that day.

Don’t: Carry a large purse or tote. They can be inadvertent hazards to antiques and fragile decorations.

By the Numbers

In the 1980s, most homes featured on the tour belonged to active women’s league members

$2.97 million has been raised for college scholarships, local schools and nonprofits

10 homes have been showcased twice

families have put their homes on tour twice