Christmas Light Etiquette: How to Be a Good Neighbor

Just last night I was looking out of my living room window and I saw something: a tiny little flicker of blue, red and green. Christmas lights have officially landed on my street. Of course, I also just felt like writing a more upbeat post. After all, student safety can be such a serious topic…

Personally, I love the first sighting of Christmas lights. My boyfriend, however, not so much. And as much as I’d rather live in the dream world where Christmas lights are always a thing to be welcomed, he does have a point: sometimes, they are just downright annoying.

Now as a college student, there are few things as exciting as Christmas lights, and there are even fewer things less exciting then decorating your own place. However, how exactly do you make sure your Christmas lights are those that are celebrated instead of condemned? Follow these rules to make sure your neighbors won’t feel the urge to burn your little dorm room to the ground during the next month and a half.

1.) Wait until the day after Thanksgiving. This is a touchy rule, but just follow it. As someone with a Master’s degree in Behavioral Psychology, I still can’t believe there isn’t a term for an individual that flies into rage over the sight of one holiday’s decorations before the previous holiday has passed. I even find myself going into a slight rage when I see Christmas decorations in the stores before Halloween has arrived. I can’t explain it; I just know it makes my blood boil. Wait until after Thanksgiving.

2.) Cut the sound effects after a reasonable hour. Holiday lights set to sound have become all the rage in the past few years, and if you’re jumping on the bandwagon good for you (I’ll be driving through your neighborhood soon to see your handiwork!), but hearing the same four Christmas songs over and over and over and over again for hours on end is sure to send your neighbors off the deep end. Plus, many dorms have noise rules that you just flat out have to follow, so just follow them.

3.) Understand other floor plans. If there is a bedroom is facing one side of your house (or condo or dorm or tent or whatever) they’d probably appreciate it if you didn’t put lights up on that part of the house. This is especially applicable if your lights are flashing or blinking. You know how annoying it is to have a cop cars lights flashing into your bedroom at 2:00 in the morning? Well imagine that…for the next 45 days.

4.) Ask if they have any special concerns. Just asking is usually enough to smooth over any potential rough spots in your neighborly relationship. And if they ask that you shut the lights off after 9:00, you will be able to negotiate for 9:30 without seeming like a jackass.

5.) Safety first. If you are planning on placing a giant, blow-up Santa Claus in the front yard, you need to make sure it’s not a hazard of any kind. Make sure it’s not blocking anyone’s view as they are backing out of their driveway or trying to turn the corner around your house. No one will appreciate your decorations if they keep resulting in a three-car pileup. Of course if they’re just too interesting to not stop staring…bravo.


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