When Should Outdoor Decorations Come Down?


Every neighborhood has one of those, the neighbor who leaves their outdoor Christmas holiday decorations up until after Valentine’s Day–or beyond.


When one decides to put up or take down their Christmas tree is no one else’s concern. However, it’s generally accepted that outdoor decorations, including lights, shouldn’t go up until the day after Thanksgiving, but how long is it appropriate to leave them up?


Some strip away all evidence of Christmas, the day after. Those inclined to superstition, believe its bad luck to leave decorations up after January 1. While others believe that since they pay the property’s taxes, anything goes.


In truth, there is no fixed social rule, and no official decorations police. Of course, some neighborhood associations and conservations districts do have policies or restrictions, so check with your local organizations.


The general thinking is that outdoor decorations are appropriate until Three Kings Day, January 6–also known as The Epiphany. Others say by Twelfth Night, which is January 5. However, by the end of January (and all those clearance sales) Christmas is considered over.


However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind when grappling with this question–and frustrations about your neighbor’s outdoor decorations. First, does your neighbor need help? Are they physically unable to take them down by themselves? Perhaps someone helped them put the decorations up but aren’t available, or forgot, to offer to help take them down.


Also, keep in mind that the holidays can be very upsetting or depressing for a lot of people. Depression, suicides, and domestic violence all increase during the holidays. Not everyone has family, or perhaps they’ve recently suffered a loss. During this time of year, television bombards us with “happy family” and “joyous couple” scenes. So, take into consideration what those decorations may mean to your neighbor.


As with families, the holidays can bring out the best and worst in some neighbors. If red and green lights aren’t flashing through your bedroom window, be kind. And patient.

Riptide      Nothing below the surface is what it seems.