Setting aside my usual rant on Christmas lights going up entirely too early (i.e. before Thanksgiving), I really do enjoy the way my street is lit up with twinkling Christmas lights now that the timing is appropriate. Part of this is a love of Christmas, and part of it is because I leave for work in the dark, spend most of the day in a windowless office, then return home in the dark. This mole-ish existence is made more bearable by sparkling strings of lights outline roofs and dangling from trees and shrubs.
(You knew there was a “but”, right?)
There are some practices that I abhor in exterior Christmas-lit decor:
-Lit-up inflateable figures: 8 out of 10 times these are just flat tacky, 1 of 10 times they’re downright creepy (you’re either spotlighting them with a ground-level flood light so you get the effect of Santa holding a flashlight under his face to tell a ghost story–or it’s lit from within, making Santa look like Satan) and the final time they’re deflated because this is the prairie and those things take off like kites if the wind picks up, so you have to deflate them all the time. Verdict? Don’t bother.
-Light-Nets: CHEATERS. We all see the uniformity of those lights draped perfectly over your box-hedge, and to any normal human eye, that just looks wrong. If you don’t have the time to drape lights over your shrubs artfully and creatively, just don’t bother. Your short cut may add twinkling lights, but in their creepily lock-step formation, the beauty is diminished.
-Solid color lights (other than white): All red, all green, all purple? Really? The consistent scheme may seem like a good idea, but it comes out looking cheeZy, creepy, or cheap–and sometimes all three. The all red looks like you’ve started a brothel, the all green looks like you’re signaling the mother-ship and the all purple just makes you look like you allowed 14 year old girls to handle your decorating. I guess I could make an exception for blue if you’re Jewish and these are Hanukkah lights, but even then, you ought to mix in some white.
-Mixing traditional and LED lights: I’ve accepted the different look of LED lights for the sake of the power savings they offer. If we get our twinkling wonderlands with less pull on the grid, I’m for it. BUT… you need to commit. Don’t mix the old power-sucking strings in with the moddish new LEDs. Not only are you defeating the power-saving purpose of the LEDs, but the color clashes are visually offensive to your neighbors.
-F’d up flashing: If you’re going to use the flashing lights, it’s a bad idea to mix three different flashers (flashing at three different rates) AND chaser lights. Unless you’re setting this whole thing to music like the Christmas light nerd-guys with the whole light show, you’re probably just going to give the neighborhood kids seizures.
We love the sparkle, the twinkle and the fun of lighting up long winter nights….just try not to make it fugly.