That's when members of Casa de Rancho Cucamonga Historical Society and supporters deck the former rancho out for the season complete with greenery, lights and other decorations. The community is invited to stop by the Civil War-era home now turned museum during the annual old-fashioned Christmas open house.
The event is set for Saturday from 3 to 7 p.m. Docents and volunteers will serve hot cider and homemade cookies to guests who are invited to walk through the home and see a snippet of what life was like so long ago.
And it has been a long time. The Mission San Gabriel set up the rancho to allow its cattle to graze in its far-reaching expanses. In 1839, the 13,000 acres were granted to wealthy Los Angeles businessman Tiburcio Tapia.
John Rains bought the property in 1858 and built the brick rancho there in 1860. The bricks were made from red clay found on site in Rancho Cucamonga.
During the years, ownership of the house changed hands. In the 1970s the vacant property was vandalized and became a shell of what it once was. A group of spirited teachers and students led a protest march that captured the community's attention. The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors bought it in 1971 and the site is a satellite museum of the county.
There's plenty more history and tidbits attached to the house. Visitors can find out more about those from docents or on group tours throughout the year.
On Saturday, however, the focus is all on the holidays and transporting guests back to a much simpler time.
"The house is almost ready. We've been decorating for some time. I just love this event," said Kathleen Rowe, long-time volunteer and former historical society board member.
"I've been volunteering here for more than 23 years, and it just never gets old. I especially love the school tours that go through, but there's something about the Christmas open house. That is the icing on the cake."
When the house was built, it was the only structure for miles. Today, the historic site sits tucked back just off Foothill Boulevard and Vineyard Avenue on Hemlock Street next to homes.
"A lot of people don't know the house is here, but once they find out, they come visit. And when the 10-foot Christmas tree goes up in the house's foyer, the holiday magic begins," she said.
Kristine Hanlon also is a long-time volunteer. She serves on the San Bernardino County Museum advisory commission from the Second District. She agreed that the open house is a long-held tradition for many.
"I know it is for us. My husband Bill and I got involved 27 years ago and then when we had our daughter Whitney she got involved, too. So many people come back every year and say this starts their holiday season," Hanlon said.
Supporters make handmade ornaments and other items to sell in the house's gift shop.
They also spend days baking in order to provide guests with homemade cookies. In addition to walking through the rancho, entertainment will be provided by the Bob Fox Renaissance Group Tapia's Gold and the Alta Loma High School choir.
The Casa de Rancho Cucamonga is at 8810 Hemlock. Suggested donations for the open house are $3 for those 12 years old and older; $2 for those 5 to 11 years old; and free for children younger than 5.
Contact Suzanne via email.