The Best Way to
Light up the Holidays

The holiday season is ramping up, and neighbors tend to get a bit competitive over whose house takes the title of best decorated. We’re about to help you change the game.

December 19th, 2018
5 minute read

With Christmas just around the corner, nights are getting brighter as everyone begins to pull out their outdoor decorations. Over the years, holiday displays have shifted from nativity scenes to giant inflatable characters that take up half of the yard. Many people undoubtedly hold back on decorating because of limited resources like time, space and money. Creating original and attention-grabbing displays for can be a simple task if you pick and choose things that will catch peoples eye.

Some important elements of setting up your holiday decor are the same no matter what kind of space you have to work with. No matter where you’re located, in the big city or suburban jungle, string lights seem to be the building blocks of most displays. You can never go wrong with classic white lights outlining your entire house, window or railing.

In cities and urban areas, hanging twinkling lights and signs can make any street look more magical.

In suburban and rural areas, there’s a lot more greenery to work with. You can bring the Christmas tree look outside by decorating a 100-year-old pine tree.

Though the fundamentals tend to be the same when creating an outside winter wonderland, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to making the most of your space. Smaller locations like row homes and apartment buildings pretty much rule out some big, flashy decorations like blow-up figures.

Decorations in the city tend to involve the whole block and involve lights and larger decorations mounted on street lights to make up for the tree shortage.  

Neighborhoods in smaller towns tend to gravitate towards Inflatable decorations featuring themes like Disney or Star Wars to create a focal point in larger yards.

More Decorations, More Problems!

This time of year reminds me of childhood traditions and get-together’s. Driving around the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights is a favorite tradition in many families. Even when my family didn’t have the time to go all out when decorating the outside of the house, seeing other peoples lights and the way that their personalities were reflected in their decorations made the holiday season come alive for me.

Holiday decorations are available in any theme or color arrangement that you can think of, which is great for some people but troublesome if you have trouble making decisions (me!). Just this year I’ve seen Star Wars themed yards; houses decorated in the owner’s’ favorite team colors; and even a live video feed of the YouTube sensation, Baby Shark, being played on a house with string lights flashing in time with the song.  

Through my research, meaning the lights and displays I’ve seen in passing, it’s not always the most extravagant decorations that catch people’s attention. Adding a bit of personal flare with a noticeable centerpiece can help set you apart from the house that always claims the unofficial title of the neighborhoods “best decorations” each year.

The “Over the top” House

The “practical but pretty” house

The “themed” house

This year, the game is about to change! In order to bump the house with millions of string lights and a big blow up Santa out of the running, include a few of these less conventional decorating options into this year’s setup.

1.) Light machines are a trend that’s an aesthetically pleasing and easy to set-up option for houses that require hundreds of string lights. Does anyone recall the scene from Christmas Vacation where Clark Griswold winds up hanging from his gutter? That scenario is exactly what we’re trying to avoid.

2.) Visit mom and pop shops for unique decorations that you can’t get at your local Walmart such as my local favorites, Mias Christmas Gallery and Winter Wood Gift.

3.) Make your own DIY decorations to set your house apart.

Tetris: Holidays in the City Edition

In my neighborhood of Philadelphia, it’s customary to decorate the front window of your row home for every occasion from your child’s birth announcement to college graduation. It’s a way for people to share snippets of their personalities with their neighbors, so it’s no surprise that the holidays are no exception to this self-expression.

With just a small slab of sidewalk and no front yard to work with, it makes sense to decorate the same way you build houses and office buildings, up. This means using windows, doors, walls and draping decorations over busy streets. These can include but are not limited to, winter backdrops outlined with lights and artificial snow, armies of nutcracker men, full nativity scenes and of course, sports-related Christmas decor. The rest of the decorations tend to act as subtle compliments to the main attraction. Usually, these displays are finished with a touch of live garland on the stoop railing and possibly a wreath attached to the front door.

Classic “Main Street” setup

City Hall display

City Hall display pt. 2

As someone that spends a lot of time strolling different neighborhoods while walking my dog, I feel like I can confidently give some pointers for how to stand out on your block:

1.) Team up with neighbors to make the whole street a display.

2.) Choose a theme for your decorations that fit your interests.

3.) For a space-saving flare in often small city apartments, a beautiful string light tree or detailed window decorations can be your saving grace when it comes to decorating for the holidays.

Thought it’s always nice to see the lights and decorations shown in Christmas movies, having a big yard to decorate can be overwhelming and expensive. On the other hand, living in a small row home in the city doesn’t lend itself well to big inflatable holiday decorations. Through some intense google searches and a lot of driving around looking at both extravagant and understated holiday displays, it became clear that anyone can have a festive and brightly lit home if you know what works in your space and where to get it.

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