The Nightmare Before Christmas

As the month of December rolls in like a lion, snow has begun to blanket the ground, carols are taking over the airwaves…and Christmas decoration abuse has begun.

Gone are the days where serene, tranquil white orbs of peace dotted the soft pines of trees and bushes.  Memories of candles lining each window with simple, elegant wooden reindeer mingling about snow-covered lawns are but a distant dream.  These shattered fantasies of tasteful décor were wrecked by one thing, and by one thing only:  inflation.

And I’m not talking about the epidemic that can really screw up our economy.  Nay, I’m talking about the type of inflation that can make Santa billow up to 2-stories tall with his entire entourage of eight tiny reindeer to boot.  Yes, that’s right…I’m talking about inflatable lawn ornaments.


Cue theme from Psycho...

When did my most cherished holiday become so gaudy?  How on Earth does a giant balloon Grinch win a place next to a lopsided Frosty the Snowman?  And, when these decorations aren’t full of air during the day, should little children really be forced to see a deflated Santa, lying pathetically prostrate on the ground?

Lawn Ornament

He's gotta lay off the sauce...

I happened upon new favorite blog today, Things You Should Hate. The humorous post featured on their main page today laments the uprising of tacky Christmas decoration.  As these decorations begin to pop up throughout the country, I am reminded of some song lyrics from Tim Burton’s holiday classic, The Nightmare Before Christmas.

What’s this?
In here they’ve got a little tree, how queer!
And who would ever think?
And why?
They’re covering it with tiny little things
They’ve got electric lights on strings…

“What,” “how,” “who,” and “why” are questions that continually pop into my mind when I pass by certain houses in my neighborhood during the holidays.  What on earth were they thinking?  How did they manage to staple all of those lights to their porch?  Who has enough money to buy 10 lawn ornaments?  And for God’s sake, why are those reindeer humping one another?

Lawn Decorations

Now we know why Rudolph's nose was so bright...


Call me an “exterior decoration purist,” but I have strict rules when it comes to holiday lighting.  Someone’s gotta save Christmas, and it sure as hell ain’t gonna be Cindy Lou Who.


She's as gaudy as all get out...

So, for your approval, I submit Aunt Bethany’s Rules for Holiday Outdoor Decorating: Volume 1. If you feel the need to volunteer any of your own suggestions, feel free to do so in the comments section!

Aunt Bethany’s Rules for Holiday Outdoor Decorating:  Volume 1

1.  NO inflatables! I don’t care how cute or adorable that blow-up Nutcracker looks on your lawn…Nutcrackers weren’t meant to be blown up (yes, I note the innuendo/double-entendre/12-year-old humor in this comment).

2. Any types of bulbs larger than 1 inch must be used sparingly, if at all.  Really….do you want your house to look like it’s the entrance to the Moulin Rouge? Sure, you might get more business and women-of-the-night that way, but….

3. Just because you have open lawn space does NOT mean you have to fill every single inch.  Please do not make your yard look like a World War II re-enactment with candy-cane wielding elves fighting against Uzi-toting reindeer.  Your property can end up looking like a 3-D version of “Where’s Waldo:  Christmas Edition” which can induce, seizures, spasms, and early onset A.D.D.

4.  Just say “NO” to multicolored lights.  If you must use colored lights, PLEASE use them sparingly.  You’re trying to invoke a winter wonderland, NOT an amusement park fun house.  If anything, stick with the traditional red, green, and white lights…just don’t go crazy with red and green.  Your house will end up looking like someone forgot to take down the Halloween decorations.

5.  For the love of God, BLUE LIGHTS?!? No, no, no!  And while we’re at it, no pink/purple/fuschia/orange/mauve/chartreuse/lime/teal/plaid lights, either!

6.  Thou shalt not cover thy bushes in light “nets.” These look WAY too precise and it looks like you grew a bush of lights.

7.  Thou shalt not have blinking lights…if you must, PLEASE synchronize your lights with some kick-ass music, like Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

8.  Blinking patterns shall not be lopsided! In fact, let’s talk about blinking lights in general.  If you have the technological ability to make your lights “twinkle,” then by all means, do it.  But “twinkle” is NOT the same as “blink.”  To twinkle is to appear like an effervescent fog of pixie dust.  To blink is to irritatingly flash and glare at random intervals, which inexplicably brings back memories from bad school dances with equally bad strobe lights.

9. Decorate with a plan; symmetrical patterns are the most eye-appealing.  Don’t just throw a strand here, a wreath there, and a garland on the window. Really, could you only manage to put one strand of icicle lights over half of your front deck?  Why is there an errant zigzag pattern across the living room? Honestly, only Stevie Wonder has a pass at this rule, and even then, I’m sure his seeing eye dog could decorate better than half the houses I’ve seen this year.

10.  If your festive spirit is so overwhelming that you must ignore rules 1-9, then please buck up, take heart, and go as overboard as you can. I would rather see a home that puts The Griswolds’ house to shame than one with no decorations whatsoever.  And that is the truth.

National Lampoon's

Drumroll, please...

What are some of your holiday decorating pet peeves?


14 responses to this post.

  1. There’s a house in our community that is infamous for its overblown inflatable-itis during every major holiday, and even several of the minor ones, like Groundhog’s Day. The yard is tiny, but the owners manage to pack enough inflatables into it to give the general appearance of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

    I always wondered why Rudolph’s nose was so bright…


    • When it comes to inflatable lawn ornaments, I feel like there’s a secret competition between home owners. They try to see who can purchase (and display) the most decorations. Oddly enough, they usually combine Halloween ones with Christmas ones, which just looks weird…except, if you’re Tim Burton, who seemed to capitalize that idea into an awesome movie.

      It’s funny how after Santa noticed that Rudolph’s nose was so bright, “then all the reindeer loved him.” Hmmm…


  2. Oh Aunt Bethany, we see eye to eye on most of your list. I live in a part of the world where darkness lurks the majority of the day and night. So my city is filled with white fairy lights most of the year. To make it special at Christmas, coloured lights are used. Inflatebles are over the top-agreed! Your post really made me chuckle this morning 🙂


    • I would LOVE to live in Edmonton if they have twinkle lights up all year! Especially if they twinkle. I didn’t realize that you put up colored ones at the holidays to make it special…that’s awesome. Just think if cities kept up those inflatables all year long…wonder what they’d have to pull out to make Christmas “special” then!


  3. Ugh! There’s a house two blocks over with multi-colored bush lights (that sounds naughty!) and every color has it’s only line, so it actually looks like a rainbow!

    Hated it!


    • Multi-colored bush lights you say? There are so many rebuttals to this that are completely inappropriate for a comment. And yet, I will respond with one anyways. Better to have a decorated bush than a bald one?


  4. Posted by Uncle Lewis on December 4, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    I would rather see a bare bush myself. (ahem)

    BUT I don’t mind white net lights. But less is more. I get irratated with people who can’t afford winter coats for their kids but have a 6 foot snow globe in the front yard.
    I have struggled to find the energy to put lights up in the past few years. Take today… I am reading your blog and replying instead of decorating! 🙂
    I am looking forward to your RAC for Monday. I have ideas I will share later!


    • Man, why does EVERYONE in my comments section have bushes on their minds today?!?

      I am very interested to hear your ideas for my Monday RAC. Maybe I will do more than one?

      I’m sure decorating with you would be fun, Uncle Lewis. I’d have a feeling there’d be a LOT of mistletoe around the house…just saying…


  5. Thank goodness some people are as outraged as I am. We should all form neighborhood vigilante groups to go through neighborhoods, tagging poor taste homes and leaving copies of Martha Stewart magazines on the doorsteps.


    • Ha, I love it! I would love to do everything Martha Stewart includes in her magazine…now, if I just had the budget to do it….think, think, think…

      I would personally love to see what would happen if a group of us vigilantes just re-decorated a few houses late at night. We’d be Christmas super heroes!


  6. I am SO with you on the inflatables they are TACKY! There is someone in my neighborhood who has them for every holiday! And the lights- I think blue lights are weird, but okay. I don’t like when they blink out of sync, when they are unevenly spaced (you know where you have to link up a new strand) and when they are not straight. This (and a pitched roof) is one of the reasons there are no lights on my house. Can’t do it right, don’t do it at all!!!


    • I love how people will just put random strands on, say, a mailbox, but no where else on their house. Or…just one bush, with a yard full of them. There has to be a plan to these kinds of things!


  7. I agree with number 8. These blinking lights are so bad they might cause a seizure!


    • Ugh, and I HATE when houses put up SEVERAL systems of blinking lights…meaning, one strand on the right side is doing the tango, while another on the left is pulsing to a slow fox-trot, while yet another strand on top of the house is imitating a strobe light. I get A.D.D. twitches thinking about it!


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