Texas Living

The Insider’s Guide to Holiday Decoration Etiquette

By Peter Simek 12.6.21

Maybe this is the year you finally tap into your inner Clark Griswold and transform your home into the flashiest, loudest, most spectacular holiday light display your neighborhood has ever seen. However, before you spend a mortgage-sized amount on enough holiday lights to make your house visible from space, you may want to review some basic local Christmas light etiquette.

Step 1: Check the Local Laws

Before you invest in that 30-foot inflatable Santa, spend some time researching the rules and restrictions around holiday decorations in your neighborhood.

Some towns and municipalities have ordinances on the books that restrict what you can and can’t put in your yard. These are often related to making sure property owners don’t install displays that negatively impact their neighbors. They may forbid excessively loud displays or extremely bright lights. Other ordinances may prohibit gory or violent decorations (usually more of a consideration around Halloween than Christmas, but you never know).

Step 2: Beware Neighborly Restrictions

For those who belong to homeowners associations (HOAs), neighborhood rules may also restrict how you can decorate your home. HOAs exist to improve property values, which means they won’t balk at putting their nose in your holiday decoration plans if the association believes your over-the-top display may hurt curb appeal. HOAs may have bylaws around the size or scale of your decorations, and they may conduct inspections to ensure that your decorations comply with HOA policies.

Step 3: Consider Your — And Your Neighbors’ — Safety

A spirited holiday display can pose more risks to your home than just an extra-large electricity bill. Keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Before you decorate, trim your trees and hedges.
  • Be careful not to install any decoration that may come in contact with your home’s electrical connections.
  • When stringing lights, inspect all wiring and don’t overload any outlets.
  • Be cautious about how you attach decorations to your house. When you take your decorations down, you don’t want to discover that they have caused roof damage or structural damage to the exterior of your home.

Step 4: Be Festive and Neighborly

When planning your display, remain sensitive to how it may impact neighbors who will live next to your house throughout the season. A few factors to consider:

  • Size: Any decorations that may impede or obstruct your neighbor’s property or views should be avoided.
  • Noise: It may sound fun to have an animatronic Santa who ho-ho-hos right on your lawn, or a speaker that plays festive music on loop, but consider what it will be like for your neighbors to listen to your noisy display all season long.
  • Timing: Don’t be the house that leaves up their Christmas lights past Valentine’s Day. If you’re going all out this holiday season, keep it to the holiday season.
  • Aesthetic: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but consider your community’s eyes, too — one neighbor’s blinding display is another neighbor’s nightmare. Make sure your display doesn’t create a permanent daylight!

With proper Christmas light etiquette in mind, dig into our guide to safely decorating your home for the holidays.

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