COLUMBIA, Mo. — One family in mid-Missouri is spreading holiday cheer not through Christmas lights, but a jam-packed front lawn full of inflatable characters.
The pieces safely store into 50 boxes for most of the year, but when the holidays roll around, they turn into the Hughes family’s Christmas jigsaw puzzle.
The Columbia family has dozens of inflatables to fit into one front lawn, KOMU reports.
“We got about 10 more than last year, so we’re going to have a logistical issue to deal with to see where they’ll all fit,” dad Chris Hughes said.
They’ve put the puzzle together for the past year eight years.
“My son is the reason why we do this. He really enjoys the inflatables,” Chris said.
Their annual tradition keeps growing and growing to the point where Chris said he kind of feels addicted to it.
And his son said he wants even more.
“We want to make room for the new ones, and it’s all a matter of trying to figure out how to fit them all together in a finite amount of space,” Chris said.
You could say their love for Christmas inflatables has just snowballed.
“What we said that years ago — enough is enough — and we just keep getting more,” Chris’ wife Tiffany Hughes said.
The grandparents join in, too.
“It’s a family affair,” Chris’ dad Kevin Hughes said. “Around 50 to 55 inflatables and we have to find room for. It’s just an excitable day.”
Kevin and his wife play key roles in piecing together this display.
“There’s not a patch of ground that doesn’t have a stake in it or an inflatable, but my son and daughter-in-law, they have everything plotted out,” Kevin said. “They’re all three like little kids again, and that’s what the joy of Christmas is.”
They’ve got Mickey as a corner piece. The minions make for good edge pieces, and there’s snowmen, penguins and even Will Ferrell to fill in the holes.
“We know some people think it’s tacky, but we do it because it’s fun. It’s something that we do together as a family and it makes us laugh,” Chris said.
It takes the family about 8-10 hours to solve this holiday puzzle. And when everything fits into place and the sun goes down, their hard work shines.
“I’m happy with the way it turned out,” Chris said. “It looks even better this year than it did last year.”
But what do the neighbors think?
“I hope they don’t think we’re crazy,” Chris said laughing.
“It is glorious,” neighbor Jane Fiore said.
She lives across the street and said the neighborhood likes the massive display.
“My husband loves the fact that they do all the work, and he gets the joy of watching it,” Fiore said. “It’s also a great way to give directions to somebody coming to your house.”
For children in the neighborhood, it’s a holiday favorite.
“My daughter loves it, so it’s, like I said, it’s a good reason to take a walk,” another neighbor said. “It’s just nice to have those memories to kind of hold on to when you look back down the road.”
Fifty boxes and hours later, you’ll find a Christmas puzzle that pieces together the best parts of the holiday season — all in one front yard.
“It’s kind of like an ugly Christmas sweater. It’s an ugly Christmas yard, and we recognize that and that’s OK with us,” Chris said. “We enjoy it, and we have fun and that’s what it’s meant to do — to have fun and enjoy the holidays.”
As if the family’s display isn’t big enough, Chris told me their next door neighbors have offered up their yard next year for more room.
He said they might just take them up on that.