Elaborate holiday yard displays featuring thousands of lights, animated figures, and coordinating music can be fun, but exuberant displays can also turn neighbors into grinches if they are irritating or offensive. Fortunately, there are easy steps to take to be sure you can decorate your home as festively as you like without causing any holiday hard feelings.
1. Follow the Rules
Before starting any holiday light display, check for neighborhood guidelines or home owners’ association restrictions on the types of decorations or size of displays. Some communities may not permit large inflatable figures, for example, or loud music may be prohibited. Disregarding those community guidelines is the fastest way to frustrate neighbors, but following the rules will help keep tempers in check.
2. Coordinate the Display
A jumbled mish-mash of inflatables, lighted signs, projections, programmed lights, and other decorations can look trashy, which may create hard feelings if neighbors feel a holiday display is more of an eyesore than a celebration. Avoid using too many different items, and do not add different holiday lights – Valentine hearts or Halloween ghouls, for example – just for the sake of having more lights. Instead, stick with one theme for a more attractive, pleasing display the neighborhood can appreciate.
3. Keep It Classy
Any holiday display that includes vulgar or tasteless scenes such as Santa “peeing” rope lights off the roof or reindeer that have been “hunted” complete with red entrail lights is sure to be controversial. While everyone celebrates holidays in their own way, it is important to recognize that a yard display is a public statement and should be appropriate for all ages to enjoy.
Dancing displays of elaborate lights coordinated to holiday carols can be a treat to watch, but if your yard display includes music, your neighbors may not appreciate the serenade. Instead of audible music, opt for a small radio transmitter that can be set to a specific frequency for visitors to tune in on their car stereos or mobile devices, and allow your neighbors some holiday peace and quiet.
5. Minimize Shows
If your display does tricks – dancing to music, telling a story, etc. – minimize scheduled “showtimes” that can draw visitors from well outside your neighborhood. The more people who come to see your display, the more they will block your neighbors’ driveways, cause traffic jams, leave trash behind, or be a general disturbance. If you add a charitable component to your shows, however, such as a food drive or collecting donations for local charities, your neighbors may be more tolerant.
6. Limit Days
Stores may be putting up holiday decorations and advertising seasonal sales earlier each year, but that is no reason to put up your holiday lights and turn them on long before Christmas or to keep them on well into the new year. The longer your display is active, the more tiresome and annoying it will become to the neighbors. Limiting the days you light your display will not only help keep your neighborhood friendly, but it will also lower your electric bill.
7. Limit Hours
Most people who visit neighborhoods to see light displays will do so in the early dark hours after dinner, but few guests will be touring as the night gets later. Turn your display off each night at a reasonable hour, particularly if your neighbors have young children who will be going to bed early, or if your neighbors’ houses have windows that can suffer from display glare or flashing.
8. Stay Neighborly Yourself
The holiday season is a good time to practice goodwill toward man, including all your neighbors and their holiday displays. Be gracious about their decorations and offer compliments for their designs and creativity, and it is more likely that they will exhibit similar goodwill toward your festive foibles. Everyone celebrates the holidays differently, and enjoying one another’s displays is all part of being a good neighbor.