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Homes, businesses, churches in Kouts open their doors

Carol Darnell fluffs large Christmas ribbmade by her daughter Saturday her Kouts home during town’s 34th annual Christmas Open House.

Carol Darnell fluffs a large Christmas ribbon made by her daughter Saturday in her Kouts home during the town’s 34th annual Christmas Open House. | For Sun-Times Media

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If you go

The 34th annual Kouts Christmas Open House continues Sunday in homes throughout town. Maps are available at Family Express at the corner of Indiana 8 and Indiana 49.

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Updated: January 9, 2014 10:03AM

KOUTS — Friends Joyce Gergets and Carolyn Robledo work together at the same Merrillville engineering firm and on Saturday the two headed out to Kouts to check out the 34th annual Kouts Christmas Open House.

Robledo, of Hammond, hit the open house a couple of times years ago, but Gergets, of St. John, hadn’t been to the event before, though another co-worker always brings in a map of the dozens of homes, churches and businesses that participate each year.

“It’s fun and different,” Robledo said, noting the occasional drive on country roads to the open house locations. “It’s kind of fun trying to find the places. It’s like a scavenger hunt.”

Gergets enjoyed looking over the crafts and what homeowners and other participants had to offer. She didn’t expect to be going into people’s homes.

“When we were looking (for locations), I was looking for a business, and it was somebody’s house. I was like, wow,” she said, as she and Robledo looked over the wares at Carol Darnell’s home, which included handmade wreaths, jars with hot cocoa mix, and other items.

That homey feel is what brings people throughout the region to the open house, and why homeowners so willingly take part.

“It’s welcoming, and people come from all over — Rensselaer, Crown Point, not just Kouts — because it’s just a cool thing to do,” said Jeri Mateer, who displayed her faith-based jewelry in the home of her friend and co-worker, Tammy Snyder.

Snyder had totes, bags and purses for sale, as well as home baked treats. Her son Chase, 7, got into the act, too, with rubber band bracelets he made on a loom.

This was the second year she and Mateer joined together for the open house.

“A lot of it is the homey feel. It was neat getting to know people in the comfort of my own home,” she said.

For crafters, the event is a way to share what they make. Cindy Hennings of Boone Grove and her mom, Judy Phillips of Valparaiso, make goods all year for the open house. They sold their crafts in the home of family friend Ray Lawrence, as they have for around 15 years.

Hennings and Phillips find crafting — Phillips sews and knits, and Hennings does crochet — relaxing. Phillips said it’s her therapy.

“It’s not so much doing it for the money. I like doing it. I pile it up and have to start selling it,” Hennings said.

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