Tacky Holiday Decorations – What Were People Thinking?

tacky christmas decorations

Credit: BigStockPhoto.com

We’re at that time of year where many homes are already decorated for the holidays. One of my favorite December activities is driving around, looking at all of the holiday displays, lights, and various Christmas decorations. But wow. There are some seriously tacky holiday homes out there!

I often drive by one particular house in the neighborhood, and I ask myself nearly every time — “What were they thinking?” It’s the epitome of tacky Christmas displays. If there’s a blow-up lawn display or holiday cut-out to be found, it’s on that lawn. And it’s a pretty big lawn at that. As much as their holiday decorating makes my eyes want to bleed I do have to give the homeowners some credit. Somehow the crazy little menagerie of reindeer, snowmen, and Santas (seriously, how many Santas does one person need on their lawn?) manages to survive every wind storm we get. One of these days I half expect to see Santa finally take off in his sleigh.

This local eyesore is pretty bad, but it’s far from alone. Tacky holiday decorations can be found pretty much anywhere. What’s the worst you’ve seen?

Here are some of my personal picks for the tackiest Christmas decorations and decorating styles:

1. Lawn Snow Globes

I really don’t know what it is that bothers me about lawn snow globes — those huge, plastic (maybe vinyl?) air-filled snow globes. I like holiday cartoons. I like color. I like most things you could consider “cute.” But these things leave me scratching my head. “Why?” I have to ask.

Maybe it’s that they look like they’re more hassle than they’re worth. Maybe I’ve just been overexposed to other gigantic air-filled lawn ornaments blowing in the wind. I don’t know. But they strike me as incredibly tacky. I don’t expect everyone to agree. In fact, I can understand how kids would be attracted to them, so one on a family lawn might not be so bad. But two? Three? Yep, I’ve seen it. Remember folks, you don’t need both size and quantity to impress the neighbors during the holidays.

inflatable snowglobe

Credit: Uncle Paul T Birdman (via Flickr)

2. Abnormal Nativity Scenes

Look. I’m not a religious person, but even I feel a little bit offended (or maybe a better word is “perplexed”) when I see crazy nativity scenes displayed. I’m not talking about a big plastic Mary and Joseph here either. I can overlook the somewhat cheesy. But some people seem to take it just a wee bit too far — adding an odd mix of characters, the nativity scene below is a perfect example.


Credit: zen (via Flickr)

3. Dark-Colored Christmas Lights

Okay. I’m somewhat biased here. I’ve always preferred a “classic” look around Christmas, especially opting for white lights over multi-colored ones. What I will say about colored lights is that I’m glad so many individual colors are available these days, because they do seem to contribute to more creative holiday decorating. However, there’s a particular type of colored lights that looks absolutely atrocious. The colors are so dark that they look like a better fit for a creepy Halloween display than one around the winter holidays. Take a look at the difference below between more traditional colored Christmas lights and these dark ones I’ve been seeing more of lately. I’m not sure if this is simply a new style or a particular brand of lights with the overly dark appearance. What do you think about them?

colored christmas lights

Traditional colored Christmas lights – Credit: jspad (via Flickr)

colored christmas lights

Dark colored Christmas lights – Credit: Aaron Landry (via Flickr)

4. Extremely Bright White Christmas Lights

On the other end of the spectrum, I’m seeing more of these extremely bright white lights this year too. They’re generally LED lights from what I’ve seen, that emit a stark white glow. What’s wrong with that? Well, when they’re overdone on a home, frankly they can be kind of blinding. But it’s more than that. Where’s the “warmth?” Traditional white holiday lights always had a warmer feel to them — more of a cream color than truly white. Again, I’m biased because I love those traditional white lights. But still….

Now don’t get me wrong. I think LED lights in general are a fantastic idea. Who wouldn’t want to save money and help the environment with LED lights? (You, in the back, put your hand down!) All I’m saying is that if we can get LED Christmas lights in various colors, why not figure out how to give us our good old fashioned “white” as well?

white christmas lights

Traditional white lights – Credit: jpstanley (via Flickr)

white christmas lights

Traditional white lights – Credit: Sister72 (via Flickr)

white christmas lights

Bright white lights – Credit: Daedrius (via Flickr)

white christmas lights

Bright white lights – Credit: bigtallguy (via Flickr)

5. Net Lights

To be fair, net holiday lights can be either a hit or miss. Sadly, most that I see are complete misses. What are they? They’re basically a square or rectangular net of lights. The concept is a good one — you can use a net to ensure uniformity in your rows of lights (neatness counts, right?). The “tacky” nature comes in when people toss a single net of lights over a bush or tree without covering it. You’re not supposed to know it’s a net being used! You’re supposed to use more than one if necessary to completely cover your hedge (or whatever you’re attempting to illuminate). I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me. A lot of folks seem to disagree and be quite content with half-assed shrub coverage. More power to them.

net lights

Net lights – Credit: H-monk (via Flickr)

These are my five “favorite” holiday decorating disasters. What are yours?

Written by
Jennifer Mattern