White Christmas Lights Suck. ​Multicolored Lights Are Better.


Every December, homes across America are riven by discord. Spouses square off. Children rise against their parents. Roommates glare at each other across the living room. Even the staff of Jezebel is divided.

The subject of this strife? It’s not eggnog, or proper wrapping technique, or whether it’s okay to play “Feliz Navidad” more than twice a day. No, we’re talking about Christmas lights: multicolored or clear? Where do you stand?

It better be on the side of multicolored Christmas lights.

At the risk of sounding treacly, there’s just something a little magical about bringing a big, riotous burst of color to a random corner of your living room, or your front porch, or strung across your kitchen window. It changes the whole look of the place. You dim the overhead lights and suddenly it’s all red, green and blue. Doesn’t matter if you’ve got landlord beige walls and Ikea furniture—suddenly it’s like you’re inside that Chip and Dale cartoon where they wreak havoc inside Mickey’s Christmas tree, or that Indian restaurant downtown.

Plus, they’re retro as hell. You can trigger your parents’ nostalgia by lightly evoking your grandparents’ living room, or you can go with those big fat bulbs if you want to deck your tree out in full Mad Men cosplay.

It’s fun. It’s festive. It says go ahead, have too many cups of spiked hot chocolate and wear that Santa hat, we’re all friends here.

Who cares about clashing colors, or whether the lights match the rest of your house. If you’re doing seasonal decor right, it’ll look like a reindeer barfed on your doorstep, anyway. Go nuts. Cover the place in that tinsel that’s impossible to clean up, too. Open a couple of seasonal scented candles.

Sure, clear lights create a more unified look. Perhaps you find that classier, or more pleasing to your decorator’s eye. I, however, could not give less of a shit about either of those things on Christmas, a holiday where children consume sprinkle-covered cookies until they run around shrieking and grown-ass adults pose for photos on their parents’ couches while wearing novelty pajamas.

If you absolutely must get in some quality time with clear lights, just go chill at your town’s snottiest mall for an hour.

As for the idea that clear lights are more tasteful, I yield the floor to Simon Doonan. He told the New York Times in 2010 that the notion is “about a quarter-century out of date.”

“It’s very ’80s ‘Dynasty,’ ” Mr. Doonan wrote in an e-mail, referring to the eveningsoap opera. “People who are pathological about white lights are usually the same people who stuff their TV into an armoire and try to pretend they don’t have one.” Colored lights, by contrast, Mr. Doonan said, are “beautiful and magical” and carnival-like.

Actually, hang on — a Dynasty Christmas? Forget everything I just said. Clear lights and oversized geometric earrings for everyone! (Just kidding. Multicolored lights forever.)

Image via Shutterstock

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