/ Home & Energy

Are you a fan of festive lights?

Outdoor Christmas lights

More people are decorating their front gardens and the outside of their homes. But are inflatable Santas and animated reindeer one step too far or part of the festive fun?

Be it a string of white lights peeping betwixt the branches of a conifer, or a house outlined in animations with a blow-up Santa dangling from the chimney, more people are choosing to decorate their front garden and the outside of their home. And nearly a third of Which? members told us they put decorations outside their house as well as in.

A waste of energy?

I must admit to having mixed feelings about this. When we’re all trying to cut back on the energy we use, there’s something rather decadent about choosing to light up the outside of your home when you’re huddled indoors. Plus, you can’t even admire your own handiwork, trying to keep warm.

And just over half of the people in our survey agree with me, as 54% think outdoor decorations are a waste of electricity.

To be honest, I wouldn’t choose to decorate the outside of my own home in this way. I also hope that my neighbours don’t, so I can understand the 12% in our survey who wished that their own neighbours would stop.

Blackpool Illuminations down the road

But saying that, I do like looking at other people’s displays. When I go to visit family in the countryside at Christmas, there’s one house in the small village that stands out. It’s completely covered with flashing lights and animations. Is it in keeping with the village? Not at all. Is it tacky? Perhaps.

But I’m the first to volunteer to take the kids for a visit, as it does look amazing, and the honesty box on the front gate asks all admirers to donate money to charity. So it makes people happy and raises money for charity, what’s not to like?

Do you decorate the outside of your own home? If so, do you care what other people think? Or are your neighbours driving you crazy with their decorations?


The word “tacky” – as in poor taste – has absolutely nothing to do with tack. I believe the word required is “tat”

1. tatty articles or a tatty condition
2. tasteless articles
3. a tangled mass
[back formation from tatty]


Fair play diesel, tweaked the title. Sure some people aren’t a fan of ‘tacks’ either 🙂


The only outside decorations I have each Christmas is a green wreath on the front door. It is not real but looks very nice and luxurious and has lasted about ten years to date. Most of my neighbours are restrained with their decorations as well, but two very large houses further down the road have the most brilliant blue lights that you can see clearly from a distance. In the beginning, when I turned into the road I thought it was the blue lights of the emergency services, they were just as bright and blue. Indoors I no longer have any multicoloured lights on the tree but use white/yellow lights because I think they mimic the glistening frost much better. In my youth I used to love the multicoloured lights but my taste has changed over the years. Less tacky or gaudy than it used to be.

My brother visits from the country before Christmas and brings a welcome bag of holly with him. I use this to mix with flowers in arrangements and also pop some over pictures as my grandmother used to do. I have tried making a holly wreath in the past but it did not turn out very well. I give any leftover holly to my neighbour.


As I am a little kid at heart I normally have a tree, loads of lights and even Santa himself in a blow up form at the end of my bed.

But this year I wont be having any of it. Such a shame, but I just can’t bring myself to use all that electricity 🙁


You can still have a blow up Santa, at the end of your bed!! And use your creativity to make decorations. Use some cut up pieces of tinfoil to make little frost type decorations for your tree and you may be able to buy some cheap ribbon in the market to make bows. Keep all away from your dog as you don’t want to have unexpected vet bills, also s/he might bite Santa.

We need a Martha Stewart type to advise us on how to have a cheap but chic Christmas.


You are right, my Santa does not run on electricity as I’ve just checked it. No idea why I thought it did lol.

As my electricity bill is now £6 a month (using aprox 5-6 units a week) it would go up too much if i used all my lights and all that like a normal xmas. But Santa will be coming out again 🙂

Partimoneous says:
16 November 2013

LED lights are cheap, brilliant and inexpensive to run from phone-type chargers or batteries yet provide a pleasant display for adults and the more important grandchildren.

Combined with an appreciation of what the celebration is about only party politics and soulless politicians could object.

Using the Loop from your offer earlier this year one can manage them within a budget.


We have a Christmas tree outside the house with LED coloured lights as well as one inside. We like it that way. And I think that is the point – it’s your Christmas, decorate your house the way you want to. Personally I would not cover the whole of my house in lights, but I have driven to see the spectacle some people locally put on.
How we choose to use energy is up to us, so I don’t see this save energy theme as very relevant. Otherwise you would ban town displays of lights, Blackpool illuminations, unecessary car journeys and all those other energy consumers including flying on holiday abroad! The amount of electricity most private Christmas displays consume is minimal.


I entirely agree with your comments Malcolm. I’m a fully paid-up member of the Say No to Ebenezer society and the only thing that constrains our display is the time it takes to set it all up and take it down again! Mind you, we don’t go ove the top either literally or metaphorically, and I kid myself the finished effect is tasteful. At our previous house, with its large front and rear gadens and several suitable trees, we had about four sets of lights at the front and about six at the back [and we usually put the garden floodlights and pond lights on as well from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day and on New Year’s Eve – in preference to shooting money up into the sky as a rocket]. Things will be toned down somewhat this year because our new house does not have the same opportunities, although I expect there will still be four or five lighting sets strung on small trees and I am expecting delivery tomorrow of a four-foot high “John Lewis Outdoor Pre-lit Multi-Function Snowy Paper Tree” to go out the front. We also make a bit of a fuss over the indoor Christmas tree and hall decorations, largely for our own exclusive satisfaction!