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When Should You Put Your Christmas Lights Up?

Updated May 12, 2022
When Should You Put Your Christmas Lights Up?

The right Christmas lights put-up date is an everlasting topic for debate.

There is no set rule on when to hang your Christmas lights, but certain points are worth consideration.

We don’t really put up Christmas lights for ourselves. It’s merely an act of kindness, an attempt to bring the holiday spirit to the neighborhood.

Each of us is a little bit of Santa bringing others joy by lighting up the streets.

Some believe that it’s never too early to decorate the house. But early is a vague concept.

Sure, you don’t have to wait until the last Advent, but you should at least let Halloween be Halloween.

Others, on the opposite, prefer to put up lights right before Christmas, making the moment more special.

The date of putting up Christmas lights makes a perfect family tradition. You may set the date based on existing customs or create an entirely new tradition that will matter personally for you.

Most importantly, you should keep in mind the Christmas light etiquette. Be considerate of your neighbors, don’t distract their sleep by flashing lights right into their window for four months straight.

Let Thanksgiving Pass

As a rule of thumb, Christmas lights can be hung the day after Thanksgiving or at the end of November. When in doubt, use this family holiday as an indicator.

However, this doesn’t mean hanging Christmas lights earlier or later goes against Christmas etiquette.

Hanging Christmas lights after Thanksgiving is simply convenient and logical.

This way, you get to enjoy the decorations for over a month but don’t steal the moment from other holidays. Plus, you can save on the electricity bill by not rushing with the lights.

Check with Your Neighbors

Some neighborhoods have strict rules regarding any exterior changes. In others, you can do whatever you please with your house. There’s no right or wrong, as both points of view can be supported with valid arguments.

The look of your house may affect the perception of an entire street. In fact, you’ll see your Christmas lights less than your neighbors will. So, asking their opinion makes sense.

But, on the other hand, even if you don’t care about the comfort of your street residents, you’re unlikely to get punished for it.

If you’re new to the area, make sure to check with your neighbors whether they have traditions related to decorating the street for Christmas.

Some prefer to cooperate, hanging lights at the same time or coordinating them by color. Others may be against overly bright lights that distract their sleep.

Even if you’ve been residing in the area for a while, it’s never too late to start paying attention to the Christmas habits of your neighbors.

A single house from the entire street decorated with bright lights at the start of October looks odd.

It’s Getting Cold and Dark

The whole purpose of Christmas lights is to brighten up our dull days. So, if you can’t wait any longer and are tired of cold and dark autumn, it’s time to hang your Christmas lights.

This doesn’t mean you should hang the lights with the arrival of the first cold day. Plus, the weather is a highly relative measure, as some may consider September a cold month, too.

However, if it’s getting extremely cold earlier than usual, there’s no harm in having a bit of fun and getting out your lights.

Never Too Early?

Some believe that it’s never too early to celebrate Christmas. There are even people who seem to live from Christmas to Christmas.

Of course, there should be some limit. For example, hanging Christmas lights in September is far too early. But some argue that November 1st is the right time.

Why wait until Thanksgiving if you can go to sleep on Halloween and wake up to the winter holidays?

This makes sense, as both Christmas and Thanksgiving are family holidays. Their vibes don’t clash like those of Christmas and Halloween.

No one would mind seeing a nicely decorated house through their window while enjoying dinner with family.

But if you decide to hang your lights earlier than the end of November, you should consider how long they will hang. This has a solely practical reason – having your lights working for three months straight is costly.

Typically, people have their lights out for about two months. Those who hang them at the start of November tend to take them down right after New Year.

Those who wait to hang their lights until December may leave them up until the end of January. But that’s just an observation rather than a law.

Right Before Christmas

Some people have the opposite opinion, preferring to hang their Christmas lights at the end of December. That makes sense for two reasons.

Firstly, it’s a great way to save on electric energy. If you’re limited in budget, there’s nothing wrong with having your lights out for a few weeks rather than the entire season.

Secondly, miracles are meant to be short moments of wonder.

For example, if you see Christmas lights everywhere since early November, you become used to them by the end of December. After that, Christmas lights lose their magic and become routine.

Sometimes, the wait is even better than what you’re waiting for. The excitement of expecting the holiday season to come brings back childhood memories.

And once you’ve hung up the light, well, all you think about is which bulbs need to be replaced and your energy bill.

Moral of the story? Let Christmas be a special time, don’t hurry to hang your lights.

Coordinate With Christmas Tree

Setting up your Christmas decorations step by step at random times doesn’t seem like a tradition or a special moment.

How would you explain to your kids why you hang the lights after Halloween and decorate a Christmas tree on December 24th?

If you coordinate the tie of decorating a Christmas tree and hanging lights, the moment feels more magical.

It’s like you instantly dive into the world of elves and Santa Claus rather than wet your feet a bit before plunging fully.

So, when to put up the Christmas tree, then? Unlike Christmas lights, your tree won’t distract neighbors and thus can stay for as long as you wish.

However, remember that real Christmas trees aren’t everlasting. With proper care, a Christmas tree lasts for up to two months at best.

You may also put up Christmas lights on Advent, which celebrates the birth of Jesus and lasts for four Sundays starting with November 19th.

Common tradition dictates that a Christmas tree should be set up on the first Advent, so you may do both simultaneously. Another option is to put up all decorations on December 1st, National Christmas Lights Day.

Create Your Tradition

As there’s no set rule on when to hang Christmas lights, it’s a perfect opportunity to create your own family tradition. That’s especially relevant if you have children, as they will wait for this time to come every year.

You can choose any date you wish, but best if it can be justified. For example, you can hang Christmas lights on the second Tuesday of December, but how will you remember a date that doesn’t mean anything to you?

If you have some other special occasions happening around the holiday season, you can link the house decoration for Christmas to such.

For instance, if your child’s birthday is in December, you can skyrocket the excitement by making hanging lights on this day a new custom.

What Retailers Say

Who can track consumer behavior better than retailers? Typically, Christmas items arrive in stores right after Halloween passes. However, most consumers don’t rush to stores to get new lights right away.

Instead, the most significant purchaser influx is seen around the middle of November.

After that, the demand for Christmas lights continues to grow until a couple of weeks before Christmas. Some people even buy their Christmas lights the night before.

However, buying Christmas lights right before Christmas is often cheaper. Some retailers start to discount Christmas stock even before the holiday season is over, as they have to free up space for spring items.

If you didn’t manage to buy lights on clearance in January, you might wait until the middle of December. Plus, this will help you avoid shopping in rush hours when shopping malls are crowded.

Taking Lights Down

When it comes to taking lights down, the rules are more straightforward. However, there’s yet again no specified date on when to remove holiday decorations.

For some, Epiphany may be an essential part of the holiday season. For others, it ends with New Year. You should consider your religious and family traditions in the first place.

Another point to keep in mind is etiquette. Your Christmas lights are visible to the entire street.

Some neighbors may get tired of bright light beaming through their windows for three months in a row. If you leave the lights up until February, some may view you as lazy or inconsiderate to others.

Sure, some people leave their Christmas lights hanging the whole ear round, simply powering them off when not in use. This may be practical and time-saving but is far from aesthetically pleasing.

Image credit: Unsplash