Another year of holiday cheer—and you’re invited!


At Gladden Farms, we take the holidays seriously! Every year, the Community Association hosts an outdoor holiday decorating contest, letting residents’ creativity shine with tacky to tasteful installations inspired by themes varying from the “Griswolds” to “Martha Stewart”.

The result is a twinkling community adorned with thousands of lights, hundreds of blow-up holiday characters like Santa and his reindeer, plus an incredible array of outdoor décor that is fun, nostalgic or even downright hilarious. And it all culminates in a community-wide celebration with horse-drawn carriage rides to take in the splendor, plus a special appearance by Mrs. Claus and her helpers.

Looking to throw your hat in the ring for first place this year? We asked past holiday contest winners what it takes to create a wonderland scene like no other.

Previous contest winners (L to R): Audrey and Angel Reyes and Gay and Johnny Thompson

Holiday decorating: tips from the pros

    1. Plan ahead
      Last minute isn’t going to cut it if you’re vying for top spot. Instead, follow the lead of previous winners and retired grandparents Gay and Johnny Thompson. “We plan ahead, start decorating early and take advantage of the many decorations we have collected over the years,” said Gay. “We even have an extra shed to store our supplies.”
    2. Get the kids involved
      Past winners Angel Reyes and daughter Audrey use the holiday contest to channel their creativity and spend quality time together. They team up to brainstorm ideas, draw detailed plans and then handcraft and paint large-scale decorations. The work of this power duo is a true collaboration.
    3. Make it interactive
      Angel and Audrey’s secret sauce is building interactivity into each of their holiday displays for the whole neighborhood to enjoy. Last year it was a full-sized, home-made sleigh for neighboring families to sit in and take holiday photos. They also once built a mailbox for children to leave letters for Santa. In the spirit of Christmas, Santa even replied!
    4. Experience the magic
      Once the hard work is done, it’s time to enjoy a perfect evening strolling the community to take in the wintry displays. “It’s nice to get some hot cocoa with whipped cream and walk down the street with my daughter and her friends to see the lights,” said Angel. For the Thompsons, the reward comes in seeing delighted neighborhood children run to their yard to see Santa. It’s moments like these that motivate them to go all-out year after year, spreading the holiday spirit in the community they call home.

Who will win this year’s holiday decorating contest? We’ll just have to wait and see! But one thing is certain: Gladden Farms is the place to be in Marana to take in the beauty of the holiday season, year after year!


About Gladden Farms

Gladden Farms promotes active, joyful living. It’s a great setting to make friends, play and call home. Our new homes in Marana — attractively priced starting in the lower $300Ks — are stylish, eco-smart and perfect for young professionals, families of all sizes, empty nesters and retirees. The community features signature events year-round, 830 acres of lush green space, 28 parks, miles of landscaped paseos connecting to scenic trails, 19 playgrounds, playfields, a splash pad, a dog park and picnic and BBQ areas.