Growing up, Christmas always consisted of begging my mother to add those fun, multicolored lights to our meticulously decorated gold, burgundy and ivory color-schemed tree.
“No, honey,” she’d say softly. “That’s tacky.”
According to a recent survey conducted by Wakefield Research for BJ’s Wholesale Club, my childhood self isn’t alone in the desire for colorful twinklers. Of the survey’s 1,000 participants, 62 percent said they prefer multicolored lights, versus the 38 percent who opt for white lights.
Bill Cielinski, co-owner of B&B Holiday Decorating based in Des Plaines, Ill., says disagreements in households about what color lights to choose are common.
“We’ve had houses where we’ve done one set of lights, and then the wife overrules the husband, and we go switch the colors,” he said.
According to Cielinski, 90 percent of his company’s clients opt for white lights over multicolored. Based on his experience and observations, he thinks that socioeconomics play a factor.
“When somebody is hiring somebody — usually the upper class — they don’t like to think outside the box. They want that traditional look, that white twinkle-light effect with the white style of lights,” he said. “Maybe because they’re typically older, and that’s what they grew up on and what you see in the movies.”
Cielinkski said he sees closer to a 50-50 split with the company’s online decoration rental business, which caters to homeowners who want to put up the lights themselves.
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Kelly Fitzsimmons, owner of Chicago decorating company Light Up Your Holidays, encourages people to join in the holiday celebration, whether their decor is “homegrown or professional.”
“It’s all personal preference,” she said about the multicolored versus white lights debacle. “There are really ways to satisfy everyone. It’s Christmas!”
Fitzsimmons offers these ideas if households are in need of a compromise in the great light debate.
Head out back. “Decide what little elements you can do to satisfy the kids. If you want a classic, clean Christmas look in front, decorate a tree in the backyard with multicolored lights. Make sure that the kids can see it from inside. Do green and red bushes too.”
Two is better than one. “Have two trees inside,” Fitzsimmons suggests. “It doesn’t have to be embarrassing for your neighbors to see the multicolored tree — just have it another place in the house. If this isn’t enough, just bite the bullet, and change the lights every other year.”
Happy wife, happy life. “When a disagreement is between spouses, mom always wins. Why? Because more often than not, she’s the one managing it all, and so she gets to have first dibs on her choice of holiday lights.”
Have fun. “Christmas decor is not about the denomination, but creating a winter wonderland; it’s a gift that we give everyone, no matter what color, how quirky or how professional. Decorations are part of the heart and soul of the holidays. Just celebrate, and put something out to join in the celebration.”