This is our first Christmas in this house so we’ve had to rethink our Christmas decorations. I’ve developed a plan to implement over a few years as we get a feel for the house and start making changes. Previously, our decorations consisted of a Christmas tree that could be seen from just about everywhere downstairs and a wreath on the front door with some lights wrapped around the porch posts. I went straight to Pinterest to search for Christmas decoration ideas and narrowed them down to things we could do now and are safe with a two year old (so no candles).
We’ve chosen not to invest in any new inside decorations because we don’t know where the walls will be in a few years. So our plan was to just have a Christmas tree, but I was given some decorations for my birthday (including a mirror ball and paper chains to make with the children) so we will be decorating the hallway as well at the weekend.
Outside Christmas decorations
The first step was to make a welcoming entrance. I love the suggestion of combining a garland around the porch with floor level displays. We already have our previous wreath to hang on the door and purchased a garland (including LED lights) to go around the porch. I have intentions to add decorations to the garland next year and perhaps create some floor displays.
Lights are an important part of Christmas for me. One of my first Christmas memories is driving through Harrogate to my Aunt and Uncle’s house and seeing the coloured lights in the trees, and then seeing the real candles on their Christmas tree (I’ve never seen another tree with candles).
For the first time we have a tree in our front garden we can light up. However, I’m very fussy when it comes to Christmas lights. I like simplicity and random, so the lights must be white and I don’t like to see any order in the arrangement of the bulbs. So no pressure on my husband as he put the lights in the tree, but fortunately he had B to help him.
Of course, I also helped and learnt a few things in the process, although I don’t know if they are things you can check before buying lights:
- if there is a transformer on the plug it may not fit into your socket
- the length of cable between the plug and the first light varies so could impact on how you use the lights
- the chosen flashing sequence may not be permanent and reset to the first option if the lights are turned off
- the number of lights is deceptive, you will probably have too many or too few
We’ve put two sets of LED lights, consisting of almost 300 bulbs, and at dusk it is obvious only a small portion of the tree is covered; although I think it looks great in the dark. Unfortunately for me, although both sets of lights have multiple settings neither of them have very slow random flashes, so they are both set to permanently on. To be honest I’m not sure why some of the settings exist because they flash so quickly I suspect they could cause headaches.
The downside with Christmas lights is the energy consumption (and associated cost). According to my husband, it is not so bad inside where we have traditional (white) bulbs on the tree because the ‘waste’ heat from the lights is adding to the temperature of the room and reducing the load on the central heating. However, we still don’t want to be using electricity when there is no one to enjoy the lights so we use a timer to turn the lights off after midnight and during the day.
An alternative is to use LED* Christmas lights, like on our outside tree. Of course the main benefit of LED lights is the large energy saving, but for Christmas lights there are additional benefits; the bulbs don’t get hot so there is a reduced risk of children hurting themselves and fires starting, the bulbs are plastic so more robust and on ours, the lights are on little ‘stalks’ so you can position the lights to get the exact arrangement you want. We’ve added a timer to our LED lights so are increasing our energy savings, but it has caused a problem with one set that resets to the first option each time they are turned on; unfortunately for me this involves several fast flashes.
However, I know environmental issues are interconnected and complex, so although LED lights use less energy I wonder if they are better for the environment overall. I have a concern about the Christmas lights as the packaging said it is not possible to replace the bulbs, unlike traditional lights, so what happens when they’ve stopped working? At what point will people throw away the whole string; when a quarter don’t work or half of them? I’ve had a quick look around for a life cycle analysis comparing LED and traditional Christmas lights, but haven’t found one, maybe the expected 20 year life on LED lights means it is not a significant question.
Did you plan your Christmas decorations or did they just happen? Where do you look for ideas? Do you have any quirks about your decorations?
*Disclosure: LEDhut* sent me a 10m string of LED Christmas lights so I could experience the difference of LED lights, and I’m very grateful because our tree in the front garden would look very empty without their contribution. However, all comments and opinions are my own. All links marked with * are affiliate links which means I will earn a percentage of what you spend after following the link, but it will not cost you any more.