Christmas Light Etiquette: Respect Thy Neighbor

Christmas lights have long been a-blazin with Jesus Christ's birthday less than a week away. For some people, decorating their home consists of a strand or two of white lights, some garland, and a modest tree. Others go all Dyker Heights with elaborate winter wonderland accoutrement. We spoke to Jacqueline Whitmore, CSP an international etiquette expert about how to keep holiday light displays kosher.

DON'T leave your lights on or up year-round.
Year-round lights come off less festive and more lazy/inconsiderate. We spotted lights adorning a Manhattan fire escape starting September 19th! "Lights go up right after Thanksgiving and stay up through New Year's Day," says Whitmore. "You can have to the third."

Avoid bright Christmas lights in front of your neighbor's bedroom window. Nothing says good neighbor like 24-hour flashing wattage keeping neighbors up all night. "Consider keeping the ones near your neighbor's bedroom on a 10pm timer," says Whitmore. "You don't want to disturb your neighbors."

Lights that have sound effects are really annoying too. This is holiday of joy and festivity. You don't want to incite hate and murderous rage. "Who am I to say someone is too festive or jolly," says Whitmore. "But think about how your holiday traditions affect others nearby.

Be patient with the Eager Beaver Christmasphiles.
"I don't think there can be too many lights," says Whitmore. (We disagree.) "What is ostentatious and tacky to me may bring happiness to someone else. The holiday season is a great time to find compromise with your neighbors and connect with them. Being a good neighbor is accepting the bright pink lights and winter wonderlands too." If safety isn't an issue and you can get a good night's sleep, save the complaining for inconsiderate autumn leaf blowing.

Keep the Christmastime hateratin to a calm minimum. There is no need to go postal or all Matthew Broderick in the 2006 film "Deck the Halls". Instead suggests Whitmore: "If you must speak to your neighbor about his or her lights, simply let them know that they are interfering with your lifestyle. You don't want to make them feel bad in any way, so politely make suggestions and find a way to compromise. Try a friendly holiday approach versus a combative one."

Try not to pass judgment. "People come from all over to see those crazy yards and it brings some people real happiness," says Whitmore.
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