I’m taking a break from decorating my front yard with a 20-foot-tall inflatable “manger-copter,” piloted by Santa Claus and a polar bear wearing sunglasses, to share some thoughts on the art of outdoor Christmas decorations.
My first thought is: You’re doing it wrong.
My second thought is: Oh, c’mon, don’t give me that “good tidings” and “peace on earth” blah-blah. You know darn well the No. 1 hobby among people who celebrate Christmas is harshly judging other people’s Christmas decorations.
'Tis the season to judge decor
I do it. You do it. Your family does it, probably to you. It’s a tradition passed down from generation to generation, like a fruit cake recipe or that one super-old ornament nobody really likes that gets hung on the tree each year regardless.
So while I know very little about most things, I know A LOT about outdoor Christmas decorations. Therefore, I’m happy to share some hard-and-fast rules so the rest of you can get less bad at it.
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So let’s move on to Rex Huppke’s Non-Negotiable Rules for Outdoor Christmas Decorations:
Winning is everything
Your holiday yard decor must capture the true spirit of the season while also putting your neighbors’ holiday yard decor to shame. If the Johnsons at the end of the block have used 3,000 light-emitting diodes lights, you must use 4,000 LED lights, ideally ones that do something cool like fade in and out or twinkle.
If the younger couple across the street have an inflatable snow globe that blows small pieces of snow-like Styrofoam around, you need to build an actual snow machine that turns your entire front yard into a snow globe.
Remember, you want to be able to look down on other families’ decorations, and the only way you can do that is by making sure your decorations are the best. (Hum a few bars of that, Johnsons!)
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A cap on the number of inflatables
Inflatable Christmas decorations have been all the rage for some time now, and while some purists shake their heads, I deem them acceptable. We have to roll with advancements in outdoor decorating technology. That said, you have to limit how many you use. Your yard should hold no more than 12 inflatables. Anything more than that looks trashy.
White lights are for the wealthy
I see some people in more modest homes and neighborhoods trying to get away with decorating with all white lights. Nice try, normal people! Roofs lined with white lights and front-yard trees and shrubbery decked out in all-white – that’s the decor of the elite, the kind of people who pay other people to put up their outdoor holiday decorations. Who are we, the nonrich, to think we can decorate our humble abodes and gangly hedges with fancy white lights? It’s preposterous. White lights are reserved for the top 1% of earners, preferably those who own Victorian-style homes on quaint, tree-lined streets in gated communities. No exceptions.
You must shout profanities while untangling light strands
There is no greater outdoor decorating tradition than The Untangling of the Light Strands You Stuffed in a Garbage Bag Last Spring When You Finally Got Around to Taking the Christmas Decorations Down, or TULSYSGBLSWYFGATCDD as we decor enthusiasts call it.
Conveniently, “TULSYSGBLSWYFGATCDD!!!” is also the sound we make after 37 minutes of trying to untangle two strands of lights while standing in the front yard on a 20-degree December day. Key to this tradition is swearing. If you do not loudly emit at least 10 profanities in the process of sorting out light strands, you’re doing it wrong. You should also throw a minimum of three molded-plastic candy canes in a fit of rage. Anything less is amateur hour.
Trip a circuit breaker at least once
Speaking of amateur hour, when you first flip the switch on your array of inflatables, rows of twinkling lights, laser-light projector and the 17 retro light-up outdoor figurines you bought on eBay, you better trip your home’s circuit breaker at least once. Anything less means you’re not trying hard enough.
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And do you know what happens if you don’t try hard enough with your outdoor Christmas decorations. It means someone else will win.
And that, my friends, would ruin the holiday.
Now if anyone needs me, I’ll be on the roof mounting a large-screen TV that displays the words “I WIN CHRISTMAS, SUCKERS!”
Hah-hah-ha ...I mean, "Ho, ho, ho!"
More from Rex Huppke:
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tips on outdoor Christmas decorations, from lights to inflatables