How to Pick and Care for Natural Christmas Trees

Christmas trees are one of the most recognizable images of the Christmas season. They areUnknown the focal point of your holiday decorations.  You decorate your tree with lights and ornaments, pile gifts underneath them, and gather around your tree with family and friends. Read more on how to choose the perfect tree and care for it through the holiday season.

Where to get a tree?

There are several places to get your tree: 

  • Retail Lot - The simplest method is to find a retail lot that is selling Christmas trees. These trees are pre-cut and ready to go up in your house.
  • Cut-Your-Own Farm - Go onto a tree farm and cut down your own tree to ensure freshness. (Usually farm will provide worker to help you cut down tree)
  • Back Woods - Go into your own back woods and chop down your very own tree. Although this may seem like a great idea, it is not good for the environment and you may be bringing some unwanted pests into your home

imagesThings to Consider When Choosing Tree

  • SizingBefore choosing a tree, measure the height of the ceiling where the tree will be located. Allow 10-12 inches between the top of the tree and your ceiling. 
  • What Type of Ornaments Will You Hang- Do you have heavy ornaments? If so, choose a tree with sturdy branches like a fir. If you are just hanging lights and some lighter ornaments, a pine will work just fine.


Taking Care of the Tree

  • Fresh Cut the Stump -Upon leaving, make sure to recut the stump of the tree. It can take as little as 6 hours for the trunk to sap over, prohibiting the tree from soaking up any water.
  • Water the Tree! - Trees can use as much as a gallon of water a day! The general rule of thumb is that one quart of water is required for every inch of the trunk’s diameter.
  • Keep Away From Heat - Make sure to keep your tree away from sources of heat, such as fireplaces or heat vents. Not only will this dry the tree up quicker, but it can be a fire hazard.

Please remember, when the season is over, you should remove your tree before it dries out. Some communities recycle trees by chipping them, check with someone in your area to see if this service is offered.

Have a Merry Christmas!

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How to Hang Outdoor Christmas Lights

hang-outdoor-christmas-lights-4Christmas will be here faster than we know it! Now that you know everything about Christmas lights, here are 4 easy steps to follow when hanging Christmas lights outside.

Step 1: Plan
Before you go out and buy the lights, you need to come up with a plan. Go outside and look at your house. Take a notebook and mark everywhere you want to put lights. Some popular spots for outdoor Christmas lights are:


  • Along rooflines & eaves
  • Around windows and doors
  • Wrapped around railings
  • Around trees and trunks
  • Atop bushes, hedges and shrubs

After you’ve decided where you are going to hang your lights, it’s a good idea to measure those areas. Don’t forget to measure the distance from your lights to your outdoor power source.

Step 2: Shop
After you’ve figured out where you’re going to hang lights and approximately how many you need, it’s time to figure out what kind of lights you will use. Refer to our Christmas Lights 101 post for more information on this.

When you’re shopping, be sure to:

  • Check that the lights are for outdoor use
  • Stick with the same brand of lights – it ensures a consistent look and ease in connecting strands to one another.
  • Always buy an extra box or two for backup.
  • Look at hooks/fasteners, extension cords, and timers.

Step 3: Prep
If you aren’t buying new lights, be sure to test your old ones before you hang them. Check for broken or burned out bulbs and damaged wiring. Be sure to check all your extension cords as well. You don’t want to get everything hung and in place and THEN find out the lights don’t work or you extension cord is damaged.

Now that you have all your lights, you need to prepare the house. Place all your hooks and fasteners ahead of time. Note: Avoid using nails. Not only do they rust and put holes in your structure, but you can easily pound one through a wire. There are multiple products for hanging lights that are safe, durable and work better than nails. While you’re up there, it would be a good idea to clean out the gutters and eaves. Place all your extension cords in areas where they won’t be in the way.

Step 4: Hang the Lights
When you begin hanging your lights, start at the power source and work away from it. Don’t attach more than three strands together. After the third strand, start back at the power source.

Work from top to bottom. Start with the roofline and then work on columns, windows, doors, and railings. The yard should be the last area you decorate. Having a helper will make the job go much faster. It’s easier to work in daylight, and having the lights plugged in while you’re hanging them is very helpful.

After you’re finished, take a step back and be proud of your work.

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Christmas Lights 101

There is just something about pulling onto a street where all the houses are lit up with Christmas lights that puts a smile on your face. Whether you are decorating your home for the first time or you are looking for new ways to spruce up your décor, there are some basic lighting options that you can look into. Here is everything you need to know about Christmas lights:

Traditional Lights or LED Lights?
If you’re looking to buy new lights, you’re going to come across a few different types. The most popular are traditional incandescent lights and LED lights. Both have their pros and cons, but if you are looking to have a bright display of lights while saving you money, LED is the way to go.

In 2008, the California Energy Commission reported on the average savings that can occur by using LED lights. In their study, they used 600 lights, on for six hours a day, for a total of 30 days. Using the average cost per kilowatt hour, $0.12, traditional incandescent lights would cost $64.80, incandescent mini-lights would cost $5.51, and LED lights would cost $1.09. LED lights cost more upfront, but in the long run, they will save you boatloads of money.

Types of Lights
String Lights – These are your classic Christmas lights. String lights are great for decorating any part of your home, inside and out! They come in numerous sets, so you can easily tailor the lights to your needs. Use them in your garland, on your tree, roofline, or around window frames. Choose from both incandescent and LED lights

Icicle Lights – Icicle lights give your house that extra Christmas flare. They come in both incandescent and LED. Most people use icicle lights along their roofline, eaves, and fences.

Net Lights – Net lights have made life easier. They save so much time! Just as their name implies, net lights give you a “sheet” of evenly spaced lights. These are great for putting over shrubs or even wrapping around tree trunks. They come in both incandescent and LED.

Rope Lights – Rope lights are great accents to any Christmas display. They are strands of LED lights encased in a flexible plastic tube. Rope lights are great for wrapping around tree trunks. They are popular for interior decorating as well.

Christmas Light Accessories
Now that you have your lights picked out, you’ll need to figure out what other accessories you’ll need. A timer is very handy and will help you control your energy costs. Gutter clips are great for hanging lights along a roofline. They work with any type of light. Of course you’ll need a ladder to hang all these lights up! If you don’t have access to a ladder, painters’ poles are a great and safe alternative.

Now that you know everything there is to know about Christmas lights, the next step is to hang them!

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Building a Home During Winter FAQ



With winter arriving, you may be wondering if now is the time to start building your dream home. Building during winter has it’s pros and cons, but it is definitely possible! We’ve organized and answered some commonly asked questions you may have about winter building…


1. Can it actually be done?
Yes! New products, methods and technologies have made it possible to build a home during winter.

2. Is it a good idea to build in the winter?
It really depends on your situation. While it can be done, extra precautions need to be made in order to ensure your home is sound. With that being said, don’t let winter deter you from building your home. A good contractor will plan well and work efficiently, which will keep costs down and assure that your home is being built correctly.

3. What extra precautions need to be made?
Since winter is typically the harshest season, you really need to make sure you protect what is built and protect it well. This is really important during the digging, pouring, and backfilling stages. You have to be conscientious about not letting the ground freeze, otherwise your house will be settling after the soil thaws, which is not a good thing. Using heaters and extra insulation is usually necessary.

03-05--15-24. Does it take longer to build during the winter?
Realistically, it probably will take a little longer, but not much. No matter the season, there are always factors that influence the time it takes to build a home. During winter, the days are shorter, so the crew works shorter hours. They are also bundled up in warm clothing, so they could be moving slower. It also depends on the weather. Generally, there will be more weather delays in winter.

DSC_06735. Wouldn’t the snow make it much more difficult to build?

Snow can be a pain for contractors, but they can continue to work while it snows verses rain. If a blizzard rolls through and you get 2 feet of snow, contractors will have to spend time digging out the jobsite. They also have to worry about tarping the house to keep the interior dry and snow-free. But, it is easier to keep snow out of a house verses rain.

6. Does frost affect excavation?
It can, depending on how deep the ground is frozen. This is where snow becomes more of a friend than a foe. Snow is actually a great insulator. When snow covers the ground, it keeps it warmer. Ideally, if you are going to be building throughout winter, it’s better to get all or most excavating done before the ground freezes.

7. Does it cost more to build in the winter?Cedar key outside
Labor prices will vary from contractor to contractor. When it comes to materials, the overall cost will probably be higher, but actual individual prices may be lower due to decrease in demand. Special additives are mixed in with the concrete to prevent issues with the cold weather. Extra insulation, blankets, straw and ground heaters are also needed when the foundation is poured so it sets correctly. You’ll also have to pay for heat while the interior is being worked on, especially to protect things like your plumbing and plaster. All of this should not be a deal-breaker, though. Waiting to build can also have a price tag.

IMG_83468. How could waiting for spring cost you money?

If you buy property in the fall, you will have to carry the cost of that land throughout the winter. Not only will you have to finance that land, you will also be paying for your current residence. If you already have your permits to build, you will also have to sit on those for a few months, which can get expensive. Spring is also the most popular time to start building and therefore, material demand increases and scheduling becomes more difficult.

9. Are there any advantages to building in the winter?
Of course there are advantages!

  • You’re in your home quickerobviously, choosing to build in the winter instead of waiting for spring means you’ll be in your new home faster.
  • Saving yourself a headache with the yard – during winter, you are inside more, so having your yard torn up isn’t a big deal. Those who start building in the spring usually have to deal with dirt and mud throughout the summer.
  • You are building during the “off-season” – that means that not only is it easier to line up contractors, but they are more likely to stay on schedule because they have fewer projects going on at once.
  • Faster permits – since it is slower during the winter, government agencies will be less busy, so you can get your permits quicker.

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Black Friday Shopping Tips

Thanksgiving is this Thursday, which we all know is followed immediately by “Black Friday.” Often regarded as the kick off to the Christmas shopping season, Black Friday is typically the busiest shopping day of the year.  Recently retailers have been opening  their stores earlier each year (in some cases controversially bleeding into Thanksgiving Day) and offering deep discounts on products. This year, a lot of malls and stores have pushed their hours back to actually start on Black Friday instead of Thanksgiving but many stores start sales as early as Wednesday. These promotions create a frenzy among consumers who want to land a great deal.  A wide variety of items are traditionally on sale for Black Friday including: appliances, electronics, movies, home goods, clothing and much more!  If you’re building a new home Black Friday can be a great way to get things you’ll need for great prices!

Shopping can be stressful enough and adding large crowds can make it even more overwhelming.  So we want to help make your Black Friday shopping easier with these tips:

Plan Early & Search The Ads: Before you ever head out to the stores you need to know the deals. Many ads for Black Friday come out Thanksgiving Day so check the local newspaper while you are waiting to the turkey to cook.  With the power of the internet now in the palm of our hands, be sure to search around for deals online.  There are a number of websites that try to gather Black Friday deals, but no list is all encompassing so don’t stop there!  Companies’ social media accounts could be another place to look if you have a specific store in mind.  When reading the ads go through and make a list of the ones you’re interested in.

Narrow Down The Products: Once you have your list of potential ads, go through them again. Prioritize the deals and narrow down your list to the products you wish to purchase the most. Reducing the number of products you’re looking at will help you when you go to compare prices.

Research The Items: It’s important that you do a little research on the items that are on your list. Before making any purchases on items/brands that you are unfamiliar with be sure to check the quality of the product, its features, and customer reviews. A little research can help weed out which products are worth the effort.

Compare Prices: Often times multiple stores will off a discount on the same product.  Take time to compare prices between stores (and also check on how many of the product will be available) to determine which store is the best option.  Note: sometimes the lowest price isn’t the best deal if they only have a few available. 

Make A List: Once you’ve narrowed your list, researched items, and compared prices you should make a master list of what products you want and where to find them.  This will help you make a plan of which stores to go to and when (make a note of when each store will open).  An advantage to making a list is that you can cross out what you have bought, shopping on Black Friday can be hectic so it’s easy to forget items that you’ve bought. Also, bring the ads with you so you can refer back to them if need be at all.

There’s An App For That: Thanks to recent technology there is now apps for smartphones that allows shoppers to receive the latest deals, create wish lists, and keep track of their favorite stores’ ads.  Go to your phone’s App Store to check out all of the Black Friday Apps available!

Have fun and good luck!


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10 Tips for Entertaining on Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving right around the corner it’s time to start making plans for the big day. Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving for the first time, or are a seasoned veteran, preparations can be a daunting task. We have put together 10 easy to follow tips to help make hosting Thanksgiving run a little smoother.

Helping Prepare Dinner

1) Accept Help From Others

It seems like a simple concept, but there is a common misconception that the host has to do everything. This is not true. One thing you can do is ask for help preparing dinner. Many guests would like to help out, it makes them feel included. Also, don’t underestimate contributions from the children. Channel all that extra energy the younger ones have into something that helps you out!

2) Search For Deals In Advance

By searching for deals ahead of time, you can actually save a good amount of money by buying items you need when they are on sale. Shopping early will also allow you to avoid the rush. You better believe that the days leading up to Thanksgiving everyone will be looking for the perfect turkey or pie for dessert. Finally, if you wait until the last second to shop, there is a risk of the store being out of the items you need.

3) Start Cooking Preparations The Day Before

Cutting VeggiesYou can save precious time on Thanksgiving Day by starting your food preparations a day in advance. Here are a couple suggestions of things you could easily do the day before:

• Bake your deserts. It can be hectic to try and bake everything at once, especially if your desserts require using the oven.

• Cut your vegetables and potatoes. This is a simple way to save a good chunk of time on Thanksgiving Day. (When peeling potatoes the day before, put them in a bowl of water and place in fridge. This will prevent them from turning brown.)

4) Invite Guests Early

Inviting people early has two benefits. First, it lets you to know how many people you’ll be hosting so you can plan accordingly. Second, it gives your guests time to check their calendar. Thanksgiving is a busy time for people, and they may receive many Thanksgiving invitations.  Asking early improves the likelihood they can attend.

5) Ask Guests To Bring A Dish

PotatoesYou don’t have to be responsible for providing all of the food. Guests are typically willing to bring a dish or two. Make sure you keep a running tab of who is bringing what, otherwise you may end up with 6 bowls of mashed potatoes!

6) Ask About Dietary Needs

Make sure you ask guests about dietary needs. You don’t want your great aunt to have an allergic reaction to a certain spice you used. If you aren’t sure what type of dish to serve with certain types of allergy restrictions, simply ask for suggestions.

7) Clean Your House

Cleaning CarpetMake sure to start cleaning your house a few days in advance. This is just another thing that you will not have to worry about on the big day. Also, make sure your kitchen is clean and organized. Chances are you’ll be rushing around making dinner preparations on Thanksgiving, so having a clutter free kitchen will make it easier to maneuver.

8) Plan For Children

If small children are going to be present, make sure they have something to do. That way they aren’t looking for you to entertain them and keep you from your other hosting duties. Be sure to pick activities that are not going to create a big mess and can be enjoyed by all ages. If you are not good with kids, see about delegating this task to someone who is, someone will probably be more then willing to help out.

9) Keep Things Simple

Don’t spend hours stressing out about the little details. For example, the house doesn’t need to be spotless, nor the decorations perfect. Guests are there to have fun and enjoy time with family and friends, not critique your hosting abilities.

10) Enjoy Yourself 

Most importantly enjoy yourself.  Take time to enjoy the company of family and friends, after all that’s what holidays are all about!



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5 Reasons to be Thankful for a New Home

5 Reasons to be Thankful for a New Home

Untitled design

IMG_56711. Everything is New, Duh

Who doesn’t love the feeling you get when you get something brand new? Well with a new home virtually everything you see is “fresh out of the box.” Get that tingly feeling over and over again!

2. Healthy, More Comfortable Living

Today’s homes are being built to strict standards.  State-of-the-art HVAC systems help reduce the number of allergens floating around in your home.  They also allow you to control the temperature and humidity levels with remarkable ease and consistency.

savings jar3. Lower Utility Bills

Building techniques and technology have increased the efficiencies of new homes.  The costs of heating and cooling a new home are less than a comparable sized older home.  New ENERGY STAR® appliances use less electricity and water. These efficiencies equate to less money being paid out each month.

4. Safety

Advancements in technology have made all areas of the home safer and more secure. Security devices can now detect a wide range of potentially harmful situations (smoke, carbon monoxide, power loss, etc.) and the ability to notify you in a number of different ways, both while in the home and when away.


5. Local Builder, Local Jobs

 Choosing a local home builder provides more jobs within the area and helps stimulate the economy. According to the NAHB, building just 100 average single-family homes generates more than 300 jobs and nearly $9 million in taxes and revenue for state, local and federal governments that supports local schools and communities.

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October Facebook Polls

Twice a week on Facebook, we create poll questions with 3 different options to let people tell us what type of home features they like. Then each month we’re giving you a summary of the winners so you can see our most popular home features! Below are the poll results from October:

Great Room Winner- Bellmont


In our first Facebook poll of the month, The Bellmont great room won, gaining 61% of the votes.

This Bellmont great room was recently showcased in HBAFC’s Parade of Homes in Greenville, Wisconsin. It features cathedral ceilings, giving you dimension and extra height. This spacious great room has a gas fireplace surrounded by Realstone panel with a painted wood mantle and shiplap on top. This room is also open to the kitchen and is off the front entry way with a half-wall leading to the lower level.

Bath Tub Winner – Amberwood

IMG_3517This Facebook poll winner was a bathtub from one of our Amberwood homes, beating the other two tubs by 66%! 

A bath tub can come in many shapes and sizes. It can be a stand alone piece or a shower and bath combination. This tub is a freestanding soaking tub. Freestanding tubs are becoming popular again in high-end master bathrooms. This bath fits perfectly between the wall and vanity, with a window view making this the perfect relaxing and cozy spot!

Laundry Room Winner- Amberwood

This Amberwood laundry room won the poll by a large margin of 84%!

Amberwood Jochman LaundryThe first thing that stands out about this laundry room are the blue painted cabinets. This color really pops and gives this small space a fun look. The other thing many people love about this space is the laundry basket holders. One basket space for whites and the other for colored clothing allows your laundry to stay organized and off the counters. The counter space in this laundry room is also very large, allowing for storage and space to function. On the other side of this picture is space for the washer and dryer which are elevated so you don’t have to bend over when washing and drying clothes!


Kitchen Island Winner – Custom Home

House by the lake island

For the first time in Cypress Homes Facebook poll history we have a winner that won 100% of the votes!!!!

Islands come in many different shapes and sizes and the countertop can be composed of many different materials. This is a center island with a granite countertop. The side of the island has a unique bead board look which gives detail to this piece. Currently, center islands are a huge statement piece for a home. They not only function as kitchen counter space, but also are utilized as eating space.

 Master Bedroom Transom Window – Brookridge

IMG_1902This poll was our closest three-way race in Cypress Homes poll history. This Brookridge winner crept by the other two choices winning with 45% of the votes.

Windows are a great feature to provide natural light in your home. In this poll, we used different types of windows and layouts. How the windows are displayed in the master bedroom help decide the layout of your bedroom furniture. A transom window over the bed is a great way to provide that natural light, but it doesn’t take up an entire wall. The bed fits perfectly under the window in this room.


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November Space of the Month: Kitchens

A kitchen is often referred to as the “heart of the home.” It’s a room you utilize every day, multiple times a day, and a great space to host and entertain guests. There are many kitchen features that can give you the perfect modern kitchen with every home amenity you desire.

Kitchen Island

Untitled design (27)Kitchen islands come in many different shapes and sizes. There are perimeter islands, center islands or a combination of the two. Center islands are a very popular kitchen trend. Many of our islands also having available seating, which is perfect for a quick breakfast or for entertaining. Islands can also be composed of different materials, a few options include: laminate, granite or quartz.

Granite is our most popular kitchen counter trend right now. It comes in various colors and designs, allowing for nearly endless options and combinations for your dream kitchen.

Tile Backsplash

Untitled design (28)Just like a kitchen island, tile backsplashes come in various shapes, sizes, patterns and colors. Each backsplash has a distinct look and can be the perfect kitchen accent. Backsplashes can be a feature just above your stove, between the stove and oven hood or they can be featured on all kitchen walls between the cabinets and counters.

Tile is also great for easy maintenance! If you splash or spill on the tile, a simple wipe down is usually all that is required.


Untitled design (29)A large pantry is a feature many homeowners ask for. It provides a space to store items without having them displayed on kitchen shelves or counters.

Some pantries are actual rooms, just off the kitchen. Others are large cabinets integrated into the rest of the kitchen’s storage. Having many shelves and racks to put food and other items on helps keep your kitchen organized and less cluttered.



Painted or Stained Cabinets

Untitled designKitchen cabinets are something every kitchen has. Having plenty of storage space is high on many homeowners’ wishlist and that will never go out of style! Organization is key in a kitchen.

A common debate is if you prefer painted cabinets, stained cabinets or even a combination of the two. In our Twitter poll regarding this debate, 80% of voters said they preferred stained cabinets!

Even beyond paint or stain, there is the question of color. Light stain gives the room a warm, airy look; while dark stain gives the room a more formal, bold look. Currently, white painted cabinets are a big kitchen trend, but pops of color in the cabinetry is also starting to show up.

Built-In Appliances

9Built-in appliances seamlessly blend in with the kitchen cabinets, perfectly fitting into the space. Stainless steel continues to be the finish of choice for kitchen appliances. It gives the kitchen a modern and updated look.

Having built-in appliances also allows you to maximize your kitchen space and helps with easy maintenance and clean up.

To find out which kitchen is the best fit for you, take our quiz!

To see more kitchen ideas by Cypress Homes visit our kitchen idea book on Houzz!


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Community Profile: Kimberly

KimberlyWIAnyone looking for a great, friendly community to be part of should take a look at the village of Kimberly. This still growing community is a great place to live, work, and build your dream home! Find out more about Kimberly in this community profile we have created…

Kimberly is conveniently located near Little Chute, Appleton, and the Town of Buchanan.  Highway 441 cuts through Kimberly, connecting it to the rest of the valley. County Highway CE also runs through the village, making it convenient to get to work, school and anywhere else you need to go.

Historically, Kimberly’s driving economic force was the mill located in the village. However, in recent years the economy has become more diverse. Roughly 1/3 of the workforce is employed in by a manufacturing company. The other main industry is the health and social services sector, which makes up about 17% of the workforce.

Top employers in Kimberly include: the Kimberly Area School District, Theda Care Physicians, US Oil, Creative Metal Products, Inc., SM&P Utility Resources, Inc., the Heart of the Valley YMCA, and Black Dog Machine, LLC.

The Kimberly Area School District is made up of seven schools, three of which are located right in the village of Kimberly. These three schools are Westside Elementary, Mapleview Intermediate, and JR Gerritts Middle School. Other schools in the area include CORE Charter School and Appleton Christian School.

Kimberly’s government is made up of Village President Chuck Kuen and six Village Trustees: Dave Opsteen, Lee Hammen, Peggy Weber, Mike Hruzek, Marcia Trentlage, and Dave Hietpas

Parks and Recreation
With over 100 acres of parks, residents of Kimberly have plenty of options when it comes to outdoor fun. The most popular park is Sunset Park and Sunset Beach. You can go swimming, play sports like soccer, volleyball and softball, go fishing, or walk the trails while enjoying the views of the Fox River. Sunset Park is also home to the Kimberly Amphitheater, where concerts and other events are held. Other parks in the area include: Sunset ParkVan Daalwyk Park, Liberty’s Park, and Roosevelt Park. The CE Trail, which goes from Appleton to Kaukauna, cuts through the village of Kimberly and allows individuals to explore the surrounding area with a variety of scenic locations.

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