Christmas lighting can add to the joyful holiday festivities with houses decorated in all their splendor.
Christmas lighting with brightly colored lights can make a beautiful house much more beautiful but it needs to be done right. Just like everything else!
We have all seen houses decorated with Christmas lights in such a way that make a nice house look like an absolute mess. Probably not much different than the homeowners.
To understand design it is more important to see mistakes and badly decorated homes than it is to see the well decorated.
There is no reason for low social status to be flaunted.
I don’t mean to put a wet blanket on the spirit of Christmas but I have seen some very bad or should I say SLOPPY Christmas decorating. In most cases the bad Christmas decorating is usually on the unkept homes in the not so nice neighborhoods but there are always exceptions. When seeing sloppy Christmas lighting as with a sloppy house and bad landscaping with no pride of ownership, one wonders how bad the house looks on the interior – not to mention a sloppy looking homeowner.
This year I will take photos of good and bad decorations and add the photos to this page. For now, here is a listing of dos and don’ts to help you do your best to show off that holiday spirit. Click on the image to enlarge.
Christmas Lighting Dos & Don’ts
- First thing is don’t light up too early. It’s kind of ok if you are a business but there’s no need to light up until December 5 – the eve of St. Nicholas Day.
- Those early decorators are the first to take them down and end the season. Don’t take down those lights too early. All that work decorating! Keep the Christmas spirit alive until January 6 – Epiphany at the earliest. I would even go a week or two later. Just because they stop playing Christmas music on the radio Dec. 25th EXACTLY at midnight does not mean that the Christmas season is over and you have to decorate for Valentine’s Day. It’s really just the beginning of the Christmas season. In some European countries decorations are taken down February 2 – Candlemas Day. Try to control the temptation to rush the holidays. DO NOT let commercialism rule your life!
- Be consistent. Use the same type/size of lighting. Don’t use large bulbs in one place and smaller bulbs in another place.
- Multi colored bulbs are good as are solid colors. But it’s best not to mix solid and multi colored bulbs unless you really know what you’re doing. If outlining a house (eaves and windows) lights must all be the same for when painting the trim your eaves and window casing would have to be the same color. Choose multi-colored or one single color only for outlining architecture. When painting your house you wouldn’t have multi-colored trim so why do it now if you have any pride in your house.
- Using white/clear lighting? Most new clear LED bulbs produce cool light. These lights have an ugly bluish tint. Know what you are buying. Clear warm lights are best and create a more pleasing feel. Some LED’s come in warm light but they are still not as warm as traditional lights. NEVER mix cool lights with warm lights. However I did see them mixed in a certain way that looked great. I wouldn’t attempt doing this yourself though. One way as a reader suggested is to have warm on the interior and cool on the exterior to provide an icicle feel.
- If you don’t have enough lights, get more. Don’t just stop in the middle of the porch like a crazy person. Try to use some common sense.
- If you want to put lights on your porch railing and the steps separate the railing into two sections, you can extend the lights across at the bottom of the steps to go up to the next railing. When doing this you must replace the bulbs with dead bulbs or cover them with black tape in the area that should appear unlit at the base of the steps. Don’t just continue the lit strand all the way across. This looks sloppy. Same thing for windows.
- Outlining your window? Seriously people – don’t allow a stream of lights to be visible from the outlet to the window or from window to window. Replace those bulbs with dead bulbs or black tape to keep it neat. This house looks very sloppy and the viewer may wonder if the interior of the house and residents are just as sloppy. Just imagine what the homeowners look like!
- White lights around a deciduous tree? Lights should be wrapped around each branch to look as beautiful as the trees in the picture above. This is difficult to do and expensive when done by a professional. The results are amazing though! Be careful if you just wrap lights around the tree instead of the branches for it really won’t look good. If you can’t do a good job, best to not do it.
- Lighting that comes in a net are convenient. Make sure they fit the shrub you are covering. Only covering a small portion shows the neighbors you can’t afford it and come from not the best background. Just don’t do it for the sake of doing it.
Stores sell lot’s of decorations. Just because they sell them doesn’t mean you have to buy them. Stores need to come up with decorating gimmicks in order to make money.
- Do not use inflatable yard decorations. They are cheap and tacky looking. I once listened to a radio show where people called in and passionately said how they hate them in their neighborhood and that they wanted to shoot them with a bebe gun. I’m sure/hope they never went to that extreme. I personally detest them and fortunately there are none in my neighborhood.
- The use of a single spotlight on your front door may be all you need. Simple, yet elegant. Don’t use a colored spotlight though.
- Don’t use plastic bows. They look super cheap. Use felt covered (flocked) bows only. Yes, they will hold up in the rain. I’ve been using the same bows for years.
- Candles in windows? Use clear warm bulbs only. No LED, colored, or worse yet multi-colored.
- Blinking lights? Usually blinkers stay off more than they’re on. Use twinkling and make sure all your light strands do the same.
Lamppost and porch light. Do NOT put a colored bulb in your light.
Laser projection lighting? These are slide projectors which cast moving shapes onto your house.
Stick with clear snowflake type like the above only. Stay from tacky colors or projected images like in the photo above. Actually these are the best I have seen. A bit much but everything is done neatly and that is the main point of all this.
“But it’s for the children” I see so many people use excuses saying “it’s for the children”. What a stupid comment. If a person has a lack of decorating ability or decorating sense, it’s not an excuse to blame on an innocent child. Of course children love bright shinny stuff that attracts their attention. I would hope that a parent would try to inspire good taste for their children to learn in hope they wouldn’t do any of the above when they grow up. Teach them to appreciate good design as you would instill proper table manners. When grown they will display class and good breeding. Really though it’s not such a matter of bad decoration but SLOPPY decoration. If you can button your shirt straight you should be able to at least try to put the lights on straight.
Christmas lighting can add to the joy of the holiday season just as a well kept house can add to the beauty of the neighborhood. There is sloppy Christmas decorating just like there is sloppy landscaping and sloppy looking people. Just because it is Christmas should not make it acceptable. Decorating is decorating. Some people are better at decorating their living room and matching colors and some people are not. That is why there are designers that know what to look for to get the best look. I hope homeowners can learn from seeing these bad examples and get some ideas to improve the curb appeal of their homes and neighborhoods. Hopefully you can see mistakes and learn from them.
House is outlined with Christmas lights that are straight and neat looking. Does not look like the homeowner was drunk when decorating. Shrubs have net lighting that covers the full shrub. VERY neat and tasteful. Credit of this photo is from Christmas Light Source – Design Guidelines. Check out their info on design guidelines.
We all know the famous Griswald house and movie. What are my thoughts on this? Yes it is over the top but it shows more organization that the other houses here. I say go-for-it!
Then for those of us that are animal-friendly, why not get a giant salt-lick for your roof. While Santa is in your parlor decorating your tree, his reindeer can have a party.