My friend Cameron and I have this tradition: we go to a ritzy part of town and then we drive around and check out the Christmas lights. I'm not going to lie, we get pretty judgy about what is good and what is not a good use of lights. **Disclaimer I understand that any effort people make in decorating their houses to celebrate their holiday spirit or cheer is important and that I do appreciate their efforts no matter how judgmental my comments may appear.**
In general these guidelines dictate whether or not I like a house:
1. A consistent theme - i.e. If you use colored lights to frame the windows, you better use colored lights to edge the house and same with white lights.
2. I generally *dislike* only red christmas lights. It's a little scary and tends to be demonic looking.
3. Inflatables vaguely resemble mascots so they make me uncomfortable and are generally not appreciated by me. (Children love them so I get that)
4. Changing your flood lights to be yellow/blue/green/or red (see number 2). It's too much and only really cool if you have those vintagy wooden cutouts to show off! And I'm sorry, but yellow and blue? NOT Christmas colors...
5. Tree trunk lights. Oh boy... This is a big one. If you're going to wrap the trunk of a tree, please PLEASE make sure that you use the same color lights, i.e. all the same brand and type of white lights or the same color (if you're going to go that route). Do NOT let there be bald spots going up the tree; it really detracts from what you're trying to accomplish.
6. Lighting Tree Branches. If you're going to try this, might I suggest you get the twinkling lights that dangle from the tree? They don't have to be placed perfectly and they look really nice. One technique that I particularly dislike is when people just take the strand of lights and toss it haphazardly on the branches. Also, a new fad this year was to take a whole strand of lights and dangle it from the branches creating a weeping willow effect... also not cool. Weeping Willow does not say Christmas...
7. Roof Lights. I really like it when people light the edges of their roof! I think they make the whole hose look Christmassy! In particular, I like the evenly spaced alternating red and white lights for roof edges. I also really like the icicle lights (not the LED ones though, they're too bright!)
These are my *simple* guidelines for outdoor Christmas lights! Merry Christmas Eve Everyone!