Top Ten Things Not to Do While Decorating the House for the Holidays

Top Ten things not to do

The inspiration for this list came naturally from having decorated a number of houses over the years. I guess I could be guilty of some of these, but not all. I hope you enjoy.

10 If you are decorating your house for the holidays, do not ignore the number of lights on a continuous string instruction on the lights. If you do, at best you will trip a circuit breaker. At worst, you may take down the Eastern seaboard grid. (Who’s going to pay that bill, Caelan? Don’t forget the lawsuits that range anywhere from unwanted pregnancy to being trapped in an elevator.)

9 If you are decorating your house for the holidays, do not hire unlicensed contractors especially if they are named Tiny the WWF champ who just got out of confined anger management care. If you do, at best you may get off with a broken window or two. At worst, you may find your lights wadded in a ball in your neighbors living room. (How were you to know your neighbor would yell at Tiny and tell him to turn down the rap music, Cane? Also, how would you know Tiny would jump through your neighbor’s roof and take out a floor and ceiling on his way to the living room. The big question to be answered now is where is Tiny and your neighbor?)

8 If you are decorating your house for the holidays, do not use the twenty-four-foot ladder to reach the peak of the roof. If you do, at best you’ll be stopped by someone who loves you. At worst, you’ll plant that corner star just before your free fall to eternity. (Man. that was a mammoth first step down, wasn’t it Calder?)

7 If you are decorating your house for the holidays, do not think all garland is alike. If you do, at best you’ll have a mismatched mess. At worst, just as you finish with the final strand and just before frostbite sets in you will be told to change it. (You had the courage to go up on that ladder once huh, Caly? How about now?)

6 If you are decorating your house for the holidays, do not think you must out decorate your neighbor. If you do, at best you’ll end up spending too much money. At worst your neighbor increased his light and display capability last year when all the decorations were seventy percent off. (He has way too much stuff for you to finish on top, Carlton. You may take a lesson and wait for the sale and catch him next year.”

5 If you are decorating your house for the holidays, do not think everyone in the neighborhood likes all green lights. If you do, at best there will be no comments. At worst, you will find a picture of your house on Facebook with the caption, “The most non-original decoration on the planet.” (Kinda hurts your feelings doesn’t it, Cartland? Green is your favorite color.)

4 If you are decorating your house for the holidays, do not forget to fasten the decorations well. If you do, at best there will be no wind. At worst, your decorations will be at the mercy of the nighttime winter winds. (It is no problem collecting your lights from the next door neighbor, right Chadwick?)

3 If you are decorating your house for the holidays, do not forget to double-check the timer. If you do at best, the lights will come on too early. At worst, the lights will come on at the right time but burn throughout the night (What would be even worse is they come on at six am and go off at six pm, Chas.)

2 If you are decorating your house for the holidays, do not use blow-up lawn decorations. If you do, at best they look like piles of plastic during the day. At worse the blow up machine could get a short and your blow-up decoration looks like an entry in the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. (Whoever thought Rudolf could get that big just before he exploded, Clemens?)

1 If you are decorating your house for the holidays, do not have Holiday music on an outdoor speaker. If you do, at best your neighbors will complain. At worst, you unknowingly violated the town noise ordinance. (Not a good idea to tell the SWAT team to get off your property, Cleveland. Too bad about that new storm door.)


  1. What a wise & helpful sushi-set, dear John! I’ve never thought that garlands might be blown with the wind for I don’t have a practice of outdoor decorating yet. 🙂

    1. Around here they can certainly take off. Thanks, Maria.

  2. LOL! Loved number two, John! Great list!

    1. Thank you, Jill. 😀

  3. Wait. Do people actually hire contractors to do their holiday displays?

    1. They do. Costly too.

      1. That feels like cheating to me.

      2. Well there are some with way too much money and not enough time. You can always tell a pro job thought. They all look the same.

      3. Too much money, huh? Couldn’t they just give it to us? 😀

      4. Rich people aren’t like that. They give to get and we offer nothing.

      5. Guess you’re right. 😦

  4. Gwen Plano · ·

    Oh goodness. I’m sticking to an outdoor wreath and indoor decorations. 😀

    1. Safer for sure, Gwen. We have only nine feet of garland on the third floor (reachable by the deck)

  5. Great list John. I’ve broken a couple of these. Our neighbor often violates #1.

    I once wrote about making religious displays, including a white blinking Cross that my wife said made our house look like “Eat at God’s”

    These days I decorate one small evergreen at the top of the driveway. No ladders on the ice got me.

    1. Good idea, Dan. “Eat at Gods.” I love it. Thanks. 😀

    2. I think “Eat at God’s” will stick with me for the rest of my life.

      1. Ha ha – here’s the story if you’re interested –

      2. That is hilarious. Thanks for the link.

      3. I’m glad you enjoyed that.

      4. I know right? Such a funny statement.

  6. At the risk of making my middle name “Ebenezer,” I really detest those blow-up decorations… I think my favorite is #10 though. I cracked up about the unwanted pregnancy law suit. Hugs!

    1. Ha ha ha. Thanks, Teagan. Hugs

  7. Hysterical! 😂 I love Tiny!!

    1. Yes he is a favorite. Sadly he tells me he is coming for a visit during Christmas. Means we have to make the garage ready.

      1. Oh, no! Wait… maybe I mean oh, yes!! 😅

  8. Awesome list, John.

  9. I enjoy other people’s outside holiday decorations – often ironically… 😛
    When we moved to this house in 2003 we stopped the more brazen outside lights as our courtyard neighbours weren’t too amused by the all-flashing gala we’d put up on a bigger residential estate, where outside decoration was embraced – rather too enthusiastically in some cases” 😀
    Less is more out in the boon-docks countryside I think – then you can still pop in for a neighbourly festive snifter without any seasonal grousing over ‘garish bad-taste illuminations’! 😉

    1. Ooooh the snifter. I’m all for that. Thanks, Jan

  10. If you’re decorating the house for the holidays, make your kids pitch in. Seriously, they helped Danny and the outside is just about done! Whew!
    Great list, John. The ladder thing is super dangerous.

    1. Good tip on the kids if they are still at home or near. The ladder is the number one killer of stubborn old men. (I made that up)

  11. Very helpful, John. I stopped using ladders outside ten years ago – floodlights work well for the upper parts of the building. All the lights inside the house are white (Anne’s preference). Outside I use red and green combinations (my preference). Thanks, good sir!

    1. We use white everywhere.

  12. Fun list John! Happy to say we are all decorated & none of those annoying blow up things on our lawn….just saying!

  13. Lol! I think we can all relate to a few of these. One year, it was blue lights – ALL around ALL of the buildings on the property. Can I say we had a blue Christmas that year?? 🙂

    1. Oh my. Blue lights. It must have been pretty though.

  14. D.L Finn, Author · ·

    I belive i may have broken a couple of your rules:) Another great list that put a smile on my face, thanks!

    1. Good to see you smile.

  15. Ah, John, it is a good thing we don’t decorate the outside of our houses here in South Africa. There is no point as they are hidden behind the high walls.

    1. You could run a few lights on the top of the walls. 😀

  16. Great post! I wrote a post about how to prep your space for the holidays if you’re interested. Thanks!

  17. Another timely post, John. Today is sunny and almost 60 degrees — perfect for outdoor decorating. And since this is an “old” neighborhood, I don’t have to fear being out-decorated! As to the all-green lights, well, that’s part of being Irish, isn’t it? *winks*

    1. Ha ha ha. Okay maybe I should have said purple. 😀

  18. What a fun list, and so true to life. I don’t know who came up with those blow-ups but they really do like like garbage bags on the front lawn while deflated !

    1. Ha ha ha. Thanks, Van

  19. I’ve seen some pretty elaborate displays of #1. Always love to watch Clark Griswold put up the outside lights on Christmas Vacation.

    1. I do too. I love that movie. (Vacation too)

  20. Happy decorating, John! We just enjoy what our neighbors put up.

    1. Ha ha ha. I can see that.

  21. Fun read! What burns me, are the neighbours that leave there lights up all year. Those faded, half burned out light strings are such a Debby Downer. Especially for those of us that go to an effort to be festive.

    1. So true. We have a couple of those here.

  22. Great list. I do enjoy the nicknames you use, John.

    1. Ha ha ha. They are classics. Thanks, Audrey

  23. Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    John Howell’s list of 10 things not to do when decorating your house for Christmas.

    1. Thank you for the reblog, Suzanne.

  24. Hilarious, John. I wonder if they’ll “ever” find Tiny and the neighbor. 😀 — Suzanne

    1. Pretty sure not, Suzanne. Thank you. 😀

  25. Oh God…the all green lights made me laugh! People love to get carried away, don’t they? Music, lights, choreography…meanwhile, I’m lucky to get out of the house on time and make it to work each day. 🙂

    1. I have a neighbor with green lights. Drives me crazy.

  26. And for us in condos, I you are decorating your condo, don’t forget to follow the HOA rules.

    1. So true and don’t try to put lights around the windows on the third floor.

      1. … unless they are on the inside. But if on the outside and one falls, we know who’s at fault.

  27. Reblogged this on Author Don Massenzio and commented:
    Here is another great top ten list from John Howell’s blog. This one is the Top Ten Things Not To Do While Decorating The House For The Holidays.

    1. Thank you for the reblog, Don

      1. You’re welcome.

  28. I’d have to add for us who only get less than 7 hours daylight in mid-December, don’t decorate your house with solar-powered lights. At best, they’ll look great for all of 5 minutes. At worse, passers-by may think you’ve not paid the electricity bill and have been cut off.
    Wish I’d read this before decorating the house, John.
    Ho-ho-ho 🎅

    1. Ha ha ha. Thanks, Hugh.

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