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Having been brought up Jewish, my wife and and I never had the opportunity to actually decorate our homes with holiday lights. That being said, we appreciate a nice display, and have come to think of ourselves as connoisseurs and critics of the very best (and worst) in holiday light entertainment. We're bringing back this gallery for your holiday enjoyment.
Over the years, we've developed a set of guidelines for holiday lights. This year, we decided to codify them and to distribute citations to local residences for exceptionally good (and exceptionally bad) light displays.
Exceptional Display: Well coordinated, perhaps including music; may be way over the top, but in a pleasing manner. Display is either very elegant or outrageously fun and attracts positive attention to the neighborhood.
Pleasant Coordination: Light type and color are well matched or mixed in a pleasing fashion.
Music: Audible music as part of display. Bonus points for unusual or cool holiday music, such as oldies by Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby or Burl Ives.
Bulb Clashing: Mixing of big and little bulbs, mixing of white and colored lights, in an uncoordinated manner.
Poor Maintenance: Lights are burned out in and creating gaps in display, figures knocked over.
Uncoordinated: Strands of light blinking out of sequence, clashing colors.
Laziness: Sloppy strand work, especially on deciduous trees which should be strung along branches and twigs and not sparsely wrapped around the tree. Or, not using an extension cord to bring the strand of lights to the object to be lit, so that you see the string of lights along the base of the object.
Mixed Iconography: Religious and Secular should not be part of the same display. Santa was not part of the nativity scene. Nor was Rudolph one of the animals in the manger.
Inappropriate Color Use: Christmas is red, white and green. Blue should not be used unless you are Jewish, neon Blue should almost NEVER be used.
Timing: Displays may be lit from dusk until 11PM (or earlier, if required by local ordinance). Your neighbors might want to go to sleep sometime without 10,000 watts of light shining in their bedroom keeping them awake.
Date: Displays may begin on the Friday after Thanksgiving and must come down no later than the Sunday following Epiphany.
Multimedia Distraction: Blaring music or flashing lights that may be hazardous, especially on busy roads.
Check this video out for an example of a over the top holiday light display that could easily cause an accident. (EDIT: Here's the original site, where you can watch several computer coordinated Christmas light displays synchronized to different holiday music.)
Here we have a case of particularly sloppy strand work on a tree. The strands seem to have been "wrapped" rather than running light strings up the branches.
Bad tree strings
The house itself doesn't look bad, but the sloppy strandwork on the tree trunks just makes the whole display look crappy.