Decorating Like the Griswolds

Twelve years ago, my soon-to-be husband received a unique invitation via text. We were invited to an honorary “Griswolding.” The response was simple, a quick “Yes! We’ll be there!” On a Saturday evening, excitement flowed through the 12 arrivals, who stood surrounded by large cardboard and Rubbermaid boxes of stringed lights, bows, garlands, and extension cords, and had the intention of illuminating a friend’s yard in thousands of lights. With the only direction, “Be careful,” men and women worked together and carefully to cleverly cover the house, lamp posts, large and small trees and shrubs, and outline walkways, a few buildings and a garage, also covering the mailbox in strands of multi-colored lights. Similar to the moment when Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation stood with family to turn on the grand display, we, too, awaited a countdown to appraise our efforts. In fact, it was an extravagant exhibition assembled in just a few hours. The ultimate word was, “Wow!”

Grand displays honoring the seasons of Halloween and Christmas continue to be a celebrated tradition. In driving down main roads or through neighborhoods, we often discover more people are decorating like the Griswolds, with flash and flair, and sometimes accompanying music. To ask anyone why they invest in lights and decorations, the answer is often humble. Quite simply, it is done in honor of celebrating the seasons.

You may be considering becoming more involved in exterior decorating for the Christmas holiday, yet wondering what would be the most cost-effective means of lighting. Many homes decorate more than one Christmas tree. When we love to see the lights and develop the festivity, it often feels right to expand to the outdoors.

Start Using LED Lights

Clark Griswold, in a time well before the arrival of low-voltage LED lights, would have spent approximately $3000 for using 25,000 incandescent lights. While LED lights are twice as expensive as incandescent lights, the decision to employ them lies in the fact that LEDs use 75% less energy. In addition, LEDs have a greater longevity. Since the bulb is cool to the touch, it reduces the risk of both burns to the skin and fires. In North Carolina, today, a Griswold display in LED lighting would cost roughly $35 for one month of use, five hours each day.

Tips Concerning Safety, Saving Energy, and Money

Decorating with lights is eye-catching; yet, there are other alternatives, such as using garlands around posts or accenting with wreaths or bows.

  • Your source of power should come from a GFCI, a ground-fault circuit interrupter. In case of an over-current, this type of outlet will terminate the circuit, and prevent sparks or a potential fire. You can buy a portable exterior unit from a home improvement store.
  • When buying your LED lights and extension cords, make sure they are marked for outdoor use, which implies they are water-resistant.
  • One convenient invention for exterior Christmas decorations is called “net lighting.” It is a mesh of interconnected mini-LED lights intended to be draped over your shrubs, similar to a blanket. The ease of installation and removal is much greater than removing lights intertwined with branches.
  • Consider controlling your light display with a timer. By allowing your lights to illuminate from 6:00 pm and turning them off at 10:30, you’ll be able to showcase your decorations while saving energy.
  • Attend after-Christmas sales to buy LED exterior lights for potentially half the price.

We have come a long way since the work of Thomas Edison, and his assistant, Edward Johnson, created the first strand of electric lights. There are any number of ways you can illuminate your home and yard on any scale of grandness. From a distance, we passersby know the season of celebration is here, and we welcome the beauty of light.