The 5 Best and the 5 Worst Christmas Decorations EVER

December 11, 2007 at 4:52 pm (Pop thoughts)

Now that we’ve been fully saturated in Holiday festivality with the Christmas songs an Christmas movies posts it is about time we move on to a slightly less discussed version of the Christmas season.

Christmas decorations. When it comes to songs and movies most people are pretty quick to know their favorite. But have you ever tried asking someone what their favorite Christmas decoration is? Usually the 10 seconds of blank staring is finished off with, “uhh a Christmas tree?”

I find it very interesting that with the myriad of different decorations we employ to “make the season bright” we don’t often take time to consider which are actually our favorite.

If you don’t take the time to determine which is your favorite and least favorite of something than it’s quite likely that you are taking the things in question for granted. For instance a person who doesn’t like baseball certainly isn’t going to have a true “favorite” team, nor will he have a “least favorite” team. So while we all claim to enjoy Christmas decorations do we really appreciate them enough to classify which ones we like the best?

I do. That’s why I’ve made this list.

My 5 Favorite Christmas Decorations

5. Large Multi-Colored Outdoor Christmas Lights.

No, I couldn’t possibly just say, “Christmas lights”. There are just way too many. There are so many different sizes, colors and styles that you can choose from. For many years when I lived with my parents I was in charge of putting up the Christmas lights and my personal favorites were always the big bulbs. After years and years of busted and burned out bulbs the pattern gets thrown off so the lights look something like this… Red, Blue, Green, Red, Yellow, Purple, Green, Green, Blue, Purple, Red, Orange. While in nearly every other aspect of my life I am quite obsessed with symmetry the uniqueness of the big random bulbs has just always appealed to me. Now a days when everyone is trying to make their house look like the Griswolds it’s quite refreshing to see a house with just two or three strands of assorted big bulbs marking their contribution to Christmas cheer. And it works on me every time.

4. Stockings

These are both a decoration and a gift bag. What could possibly be better? One of my favorite memories as a kid was the random number drawing for who would get first crack at the 7 Christmas sticking we had in our family. Even though the selection was virtually meaningless we still craved the opportunity to be the first to pick. The only time I can remember in my life where I actually did get to pick before my sisters I think they persuaded me, using some sick reverse psychology technique, into picking the lamest of the family stockings (The white one with a strange red snowflake). Now I have a preassigned stocking just sitting there waiting to be filled up. Last night I heard my wife in the other room saying “Diamonds. Coal. Diamonds. Coal. Dimaonds. Coal.” When I went in the room to find out what in the world was gong on I noticed she was alternating between her stocking and mine.


I’m not too upset about the idea of getting coal but diamonds? geez Santa’s going to need a raise.

That’s the coolest thing about stockings, Santa puts presents in them! We don’et even have a chimney and he still loads up our stockings with good loot. How can you not love stockings?

ONe problem I do have with stockins though is that every year I see tons of them for sale at the stores. How is this possible? You use them once a year it’s not likely that they are going to be wearing out any time soon. Basically I don’t expect to be buying a stocking until we get a new addition to our family and that won’t be for a long time. So who is out there buying all these stockings at the stores? If you’re the guilty party please state so and give me some kind of reason why you’d buy stockings more than twice in your lifetime.

3. Candy Canes

I’ve long believed that the most perfect Candy ever created it the peppermint. I believe this because the peppermint has been unchanged for many many years. It’s the rarest kind of candy that not only tastes delicious but also has the added benefit of making your breath smell nice. It has a fantastic timelessness to is that makes it appropriate for candy dishes year round. Peppermints are usually wrapped in clear cellophane twisted tightly together on either end. Visually, aesthetically and flavorfully pleasing the peppermint is a hit.

And then Christmas comes around and it becomes king of all candies when in takes the form of the candy cane.

The Candy Cane is ripe with urban legends and traditions. It is thought by some to represent Jesus with the white color representing his purity and the red his blood. Upright it resembles the cane of a shepherd (Jesus being the “Good Shepherd”) and upside down the letter “J” for Jesus.

It’s creation dates all the way back to the 15th century. What was once a simple white sugar stick eventually took a curve to be more functionally placed upon Christmas trees with the red stripes being added as recently as 1900.

All the rich heritage and stories behind a simple piece of candy sure puts those Werthers original commercials to shame don’t it?

Our family never decorated the tree with Candy Canes but the family with the most members who actually read my blog sure did (You know who you are) and what a sweet memory it is to recall going to their house and swiping a candy that may or may not be 4 years old from the tree.

2. Mistletoe

As far as plants go the mistletoe plant is pretty much disgusting. It’s a parasitic vine that attaches itself to a host tree and sucks the water and mineral nutrients out of it until the host dies. For this reason many people have come to associate mistletoe with In-Laws. Haha, just kidding. No we all know that mistletoe is all about romance. When you find yourself beneath mistletoe with a lovely lady you are granted permission to do some lip locking.

There are some other crazy “christian” traditions but lets face it Christmas is really about trying to make out and as far as I know mistletoe is the only decoration actually associated with this custom. So it makes number 2 on my list.

1. The Christmas Tree

Ok so in my introduction I mocked those who defer to the X-mas tree as their favorite decoration but really what else could it be? The origin of cutting down an evergreen conifer tree (the most important types of trees in maintaining oxygen throughout the earths atmosphere) dates back to 16th century Germany. For those of you unfamiliar with history this was before Albert Einstein discovered electricity so people had no way of keeping their houses lit at night. With December 22nd being winter solstice (the shortest amount of daylight in the year) they needed a way to see their Christmas presents. So the people would cut down trees but them in their houses and then light them on fire. When the fire would spread from the tree to the actual frame of their house they would pray to Jesus who would then send Santa Claus to miraculously put out the fire and make Christmas special. You can see why we don’t do that anymore. But we still cut down the trees from the forest, adorn them with gold and silver, level them out so they won’t totter and put them into the center of living room, just like the Bible tells us to do (Jeremiah 10:3-4). hmmmmm

While I don’t really care for ornaments and I can’t stand the idea of decorating your tree with a different “theme” each year, I happen to really enjoy the fact that Christmas trees are erected in every prominent place in the western world. It’s kind of a big deal.

While those are my 5 favorite I also have a number of Christmas decorations that institute a gag reflex. Or at the very least a deep moan of annoyance. This is those.

5. The Giant Inflatable “Snow Globes”

What an eye sore these things are. They are the epitome for all that is evil in the effort to outdo your neighbors for the most obnoxiously decorated house. They are big, They seem like a huge waste of money both to buy and to operate and they always have some bizarre arrangement of characters inside. Example… A polar bear and a penguin holding song books. What? Never mind that these two animals live as far away from each other as any other two creatures on Earth but just for a moment imagine if they actually were put together in a plastic ball, how long do you think that penguin would last? Or what about the one where Santa is riding a reindeer? How lame is that. Everyone knows it takes 8 reindeer to pull Santa and his sleigh so in the world is one supposed to be able to carry him?

Home Owners Associations, you evil, evil groups. Please do something about these monstrosities!

4. The Poinsettia

WHY? Why in the world do we insist upon making a Mexican flower a part of the Christmas tradition? for more than 50 years the Paul Ecke Family of Encinitas California had a virtual monopoly on Poinsettias since they owned the secret to growing them without having them turn out looking like a crappy weed. Then the Poinsettias were quite valuable, rare and expensive. But all good things must come to an end and the secret finally got out making Poinsettias a dime a dozen (not really but they are a lot cheaper now). Along with their cheapness comes an over-abundance of their presence. Leave me alone you devil flowers! you have nothing to do with Christmas and I hate you. (Just in case you are wondering, No, they aren’t really poisonous but I still wouldn’t mind if the Agriculture department banned their existence.)

3. “Icicle” Style Christmas Lights

When these guys came out a few years ago it was kind of a neat treat to see them on the occasional house in the occasional neighborhood, but wow what an explosion. Now everybody has them and now even in colors other than white (nothing is worse than red icicle lights, it looks like the house is bleeding). Not only are they way overused but they are incredibly unpleasant to put up. Most strands warn you not to connect more than three but three strands won’t even get you half way across to roof.

Truth be told I really don’t like trying to fake wintery conditions.The fake snow at Disneyland, white cottony fluff on your yard, fake snowmen and icicle lights all seem to be the creation of mad scientists intent shoving nostalgia down your throat while hoping you ignore headlines like, “Freezing weather kills 19 in midwest ice-storm”.

2. Any Images of Santa Praying

Seriously people it’s not helping the gospel message to have the jolly old elf kneeling before the manger.

1. Decorative Hand Towels In the Bathroom.

If there’s one thing that makes me actually desire hand blowers it’s these. Oh how I despise the embroidered patches runining perfectly good towels.

I am a fanatic when it comes to routine. Every morning I drink a lot of coffee and even more water. This means I gotta pee often. And unlike 75% of the American male population I insist upon washing my hands at each and every bathroom visit. I also typically use between 2 or three paper towels to dry my hands after each washing. Except of course when I am visiting someones home and then I don’t expect them to have paper towels. Your typical cloth towels aren’t a terrible substitute for the comfort of paper towels but neither are they as good (you never know who has done what with that towel before you are putting your now “clean” hands on it).

Typically the patches of Bells and Snowflakes only take up about half the size of the towel, however it’s the only usable half! All that is left is the outer edges and the part that keeps the towel hanging from the ring. This just irks me sooooo much. I want to have clean and dry hands when I come out of your bathroom and start meeting your friends at your Christmas party. I want to enjoy my eggnog and my white elephant gift without having cold, clammy, maybe clean hands. So please people, PLEASE if you must have your decorative towels also include some use-able towels in the bathroom as well. Thank you.



  1. amyleesspace said,


    In RE: to stockings- I LOVE stockings!! When I was young my parents didn’t do them, I was so bummed!! I was determined to have stockings for my kids. My first year married I even MADE Wences make me a stocking! Now that I am the one filling them, I see why my parents may have chosen to forgo the stockings, they are quite expensive.

    “If you’re the guilty party please state so and give me some kind of reason why you’d buy stockings more than twice in your lifetime.”

    **This would be me, when you have a child every other year, you are constantly having to add to your stocking collection. I just put all of my stockings up today, and realized I now have to go and get Miss Molly one.

    “Basically I don’t expect to be buying a stocking until we get a new addition to our family and that won’t be for a long time. ”

    ***Don’t speak too soon, I thought the same thing!! (insert wink, and another wink)

    I also think the Snow globes are an eye sore!!!

  2. Anthony said,

    “t and as far as I know mistletoe is the only decoration actually associated with this custom”

    What about female style santa outfits? I don’t know if you’d call it a “decoration” but it certainly follows the same custom.

  3. Laura said,

    My favorite Christmas decorations are ( in no particular order)
    1) ornaments. I collect them. For myself, and my daughters have gotten one or a set every Christmas since Carla’ s first Christmas. I now bring back ornaments from states and countries I visit on vacations. We have a million. This is our only theme, year after year after year. It truly makes our tree a “Traditional” theme!

    2) snowmen. because I think they are cute. I even started displaying them about two years before it got popular. I am done now with collecting them, though!

    3) candles. in wreaths, in the fireplace, in the window. only the ones in the fireplace have real fire, though. candlelight is cozy, inviting, romantic, pretty…

    4) the Nativity that I made for my girls when they were young. it looks like it is for little ones, but it is our favorite. I also prefer Nativities with Mary holding Jesus, which is more real, and usually harder to find. I have three or four of Mary holding her Baby…

    5) the Advent Calender, especially the one my mom has that my grandma made for her when we were kids. All the days are symbols God, Christ, the Holy Spirit or other symbols of the Christian faith. I love it because my grandma made it from her own original idea, and it teaches us about the Scripture.

    6) mistletoe. because it is Celtic in tradition, and just plain fun.

    7) Christmas clothes. worn for the first time to church either on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Sunday. Just so special and is rooted far back in our family’s tradition.

    8) Christmas cards. lined up on the mantel, or usually taped on the wall. any other time of the year, tacking varicolored and diverse pieces of paper on a main wall of your home would be, well…tacky..or at least, weird. but at Christmas it is a picture of the friends and family that you have who still take time to actually mail some correspondance to you, and it’s fun!

    My least favorite decorations:
    1) Santa, at any time for any reason. He has never visited our home. I don’t like him. St. Nicholas is another story, though.

    2) All the garish competition to see who can put up the most junk on their lawn and light it up. What happened to simple, creative, and pretty?

    3) Anything that is garish and cheap. I am kinda traditionalist, so I like to keep it classy or child-like, especially now that I have a grandbaby in the family.

    Really, that is about it. I really enjoy the Christmas season, so there aren’t too many decorations I don’t like!

  4. danielbalc said,

    Amy… Yes of course it’s ok to be buying stockings when you have a child. I totally can understand that. But the question is how many stockings have you purchased PER child? Hopefully just 1. Meanwhile about them being expensive to fill. As children we always got a toothbrush and and a couple of cheap fall apart toys. Nothing that seemed too expensive.

    Anthony… hmmmm I hadn’t thought about that at all until last night my wife and I went to dinner at Miami Grille in Poway (If you guys haven’t tried it out I highly recommend patronzing them. Delicious food, fun atmosphere, the works. Kinda pricey but there was a two for one coupon in the mail so we splurged). Anyways while waiting for a table we walked over to Stein Mart and saw the BEST Santa boxers ever. When you squeeze his nose it plays jingle bells. Hey look, here it is on ebay…


    No offense but had my list gone to 10 of each instead of just 5 your first three (Ornaments, Snowmen and Candels) would have made my least favorite decorations.

    Not that I’m anti ornaments, but they are WAYYYYY too expensive. and some are just so hideously ugly you can only put them on the back of your tree.

    Snowmen have nothing to do with Christmas. Nothing. I’m a so-cal native I have only once in my entire life seen snow ON Christmas day and I don’t ever need that experience again. To me snow means being AWAY from home.

    Candles are ok. We have candles in our home year round which is why I don’t like the idea of breaking them out just at Christmas time.

    but I DID like your inclusion of Christmas clothes. Something I completely forgot about.

    You oughta check out stein mart for a nice gift for Dave.

  5. Aunt Beth said,

    The Best
    1. Camels in Nativity Scenes – When I was young, I couldn’t wait to paint a camel cookie always outfitting them with elaborate saddles and tassels. The camels make us think about the wise men following the star and worshipping Jesus. I love the significance of it all — men of learning, their spiritual guidance, the journey, precious and symbolic gifts, worshipping the kind, and steering clear of Herod’s scheme.
    2. Angels with trumpets – I’m not a fan of throwing wings on a chubby naked little kid and dubbing that an angel, but I love messenger type angels with trumpets heralding the birth of Jesus. What an exciting thought! What a great sound! What an exciting thing to look forward to – someday hearing the trumpet of the Lord!
    3. Hand painted wooden cutouts of sleighs and reindeer – Nothing could take the place of the original plywood decorations that my Dad constructed and assembled up on the roof during the holidays. The most elaborate part was the red light bulb on the lead reindeer and a string of lights representing reins.
    4. “Dickens” Christmas Villages – I love setting up a little neighborhood where all of the houses have great paint jobs and there is no blight. There are no signs of traffic, cell phones, skateboards, or video games; instead, adults stroll through the park holding hands or carol while the kids are busy sledding, building snowmen, and ice skating. The townspeople all seem friendly and family oriented. Though not realistic of the actual conditions portrayed by Dickens, it is a respite from the modern landscape of Wal-Marts, Home Depots and endless strip malls (all painted a variation of the same southwestern paint scheme).
    5. White light polar bears, deer, and occasionally penguins – These are my favorite of the modern yard decorations. They’re classy and cute and don’t look like they jumped out of a cartoon or video game.

    The Worst
    1. Blow up Carousels, Ferris Wheels, and Snow globes. They’re garish and entirely too shiny and puffy.
    2. Macy’s balloon replicas such as Santa and the Grinch. The big balloons belong at the Thanksgiving Day Parade. They aren’t meant to be parked in every other front yard. It’s like looking at a tongue. The longer you stare at one, the more abnormal it appears.
    3. Most Santa Claus representations – Though an occasional Santa embodies the ideal, the market has a glut of the golfing, surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding, and doing-all-sorts-of-other-things variety. Yuck!
    4. Elves – Something’s just not right with them.
    5. I can’t think of any other things I dislike about holiday decorations. I love Christmas lights – especially the icicle style ones.

  6. itsasecret2u said,

    My number 1, hands-down favorite is Christmas lights; but I like the small ones. The big ones make me cranky. For the tree, they have to be colored. I prefer colored outside, too, but white is very pretty if it is done well. I will admit that I have some icicle lights outside, but they are only along the railing of my back deck. I then have colored lights wrapped around the top rail of the deck and the overall effect is pretty. But I DESPISE colored icicles. Since I moved out of my parents’ house, it has become the step-dad’s job to decorate outside and he has multi-colored icicles along the roof with big-bulb regular lights right on top… but the colors are different! The big lights have more primary-ish colors and the icicles include pink and turquoise… ugh!

    I also LOVE stockings. I still don’t have one for myself, but that’s because I make them. I made gigantic ones for the husband and #1 initially, then I couldn’t find the right size kits to make another gigantic one for me, let alone #2 and #3. So I made a small one for #2 last year, a new, small one for the hubby (finished a couple months ago), and I’m almost-almost-almost done with the baby’s for this year. Then I’ll need to make a new, small one for #1 and FINALLY one for myself. But since I’m the one who fills the stockings every year, it never seemed a priority to make one for myself. Because I grew up with embroidered stockings, I totally can’t relate to the “stocking selection” tradition. Our names are sewn on ours. I thought it was so weird in my husband’s family that no one ever remembered whose stocking is whose, even though they are handmade. They are crocheted and have no names. That is the one I’m making for the baby. It has so many tiny pieces that it has taken a looooong time to do. Ugh.

    Amy, I get made fun of by my hubby for this, but I always put new socks, new underwear (it’s money, but it’s totally practical, too), snacks (this would mean organic maple sugar candy, little organic chocolate bars, and maybe a small bag of Kettle chips in my house), and one or two tiny gifts, no more than a dollar or two each in the kids’ stockings. When we have the money, we’ll sometimes throw a DVD in there, but not always. The kids don’t care. They get most excited about the junk food. 🙂

  7. Laura said,

    Hey, Daniel, not offended in the least! You asked our opinion, it’s a fun post. I would have kept it to 5, but got carried away!

    If I kept it to five, I would take away candles and mistletoe and snowmen. I know snowmen are not Christmas per se, but since I am also a San Diego native, I have a weird nostalgia for what I haven’t had – seasons – and snowmen make me feel like I am having a winter season. IF I display them, they usually stay up through January. By the way, I don’t think I could ever live somewhere it snows. I hate being cold!!! And snow is dangerous!

    I don’t know what you mean by ornaments being too expensive. I haven’t found that to be true. I only buy three or four a year, and the tradition was started so that my kids would have their own collection when they grew up and moved out. They were involved in the selection, usually, so it has been a memory-making experience, also. I mean, I buy them for $5 at World Market or somewhere like that.

    I have never bought a whole tree full of ornaments to make a theme tree – I think that would be very expensive! And ugly ornaments do not go on my tree! (well, they might be ugly to you, but I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder!) And the “filler” ornaments are typically very affordable. Once you buy them, you use them only once a year – they pay for themselves. But I am guessing you are referring to changing the entire theme each year…OH! and if you are referring to ornaments by Christopher Radtko and those type of ornaments – whooyeah, those are a lot of money! I don’t collect those type!!!

    To answer youquestion about stockings: I have had more than two for my kids. There was the Baby’s First Christmas stocking that only went up the first year . Then for a time we had big knitted ones, but they got too heavy and “saggy” and dangerous when gifts were put in them…so I changed those out to what we have had now for about 15 years – they are medium-sized and made of felt. We don’t have the name-on-the-stocking tradition, but my kids know what stocking is their’s because the stocking holder has an insert for a small photo. Sounds tackier than it is, believe me..and it works. We keep the price down on stocking stuffers by buying small things – other than some candy, usually a hairclip or band, some chapstick or other inexpensive make-up, a small toy when they were younger, etc. This year they are only getting candy, though.

    And thank you about the Christmas clothes inclusion…and no Santa boxers for David, thank you very much! As far as getting a gift for Dave, well, he and I have not once given each other a gift at Christmas. There is a good reason for it, if you want to know the story, let me know. I think it is a good story…

  8. danielbalc said,

    OK so you got your kids 3 or 4 stockings.That’s still tolerable.

    I just can’t grasp the abundance of stockings for sale at the stores these days.

    As for ornaments…

    NOT expensive? 5 bucks seems pricey to me. Our tree has like 3 boxes of ornaments worth about 5 bucks a pop.

  9. RubeRad said,

    the family with the most members who actually read my blog sure did (You know who you are)

    So you remember the candy canes on our tree? I’ve never been very impressed with candy canes. I do think they look nice on a tree, but that’s about it. And I don’t understand the recent (5- 10-years?) explosion of non-mint candy canes. Stick with what works, people!

    The origin of cutting down an evergreen conifer tree … dates back to 16th century Germany.

    “Urban Legend” actually pins it to Martin Luther himself (but this site disagrees). Can you imagine decorating a pine tree in your house with CANDLES? (And since I don’t see anybody else givin you much love, let me just say that your exegesis of Jer 10:3-4 is very funny!)

    Some have made note of nativities; I like them. We have a Playmobil Nativity Set the kids like to play with, and I recall growing up we had a really cute beanbag one. And when Forester got married (Dec 2000?) I helped make their reception favors — adorable little nativity ornaments made out of popsicle sticks (mine is one of my favorite ornaments!) Recently, Albino sent me a link of the most unbelievable nativities you have ever seen…

  10. danielbalc said,

    I love the playmobil nativity set. I was working in a toy store run by Jews when I first saw it. They were really hesitant to order a lot because they had no clue how big a deal the Nativity scene is to Christmas. We sold em out in less than a day.

    The next year we had TONS.

    I have always enjoyed the nativity sets especially my Nana and Papaws.

    Nothing shapes a childhood like rescuing baby Jesus from stampeding sheep!

    The Nativity scene at my house was very different however. It was just Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus. Mary was kneeling, Joseph standing and Jesus obviously in the manger. They were made of some kind of ceramic I guess. Joseph was about 8 inches high. They weren’t painted, they were just a gross pale beige color. I think my Mom made them and since they were so fragile we couldn’t really play with them. Eventually Mary lost a hand, Joseph lost his staff and I think maybe Jesus’ head fell off.

    We don’t have a nativity set, but I’ll take none over the insane Costco ones on the market. Or the really bizarre ones you linked to above. YIKES.

    If I had kids I’d want the playmobile one.
    hopefully by then they will have a cool star wars set as well.

  11. itsasecret2u said,


    Hilarious nativity sets. The fiber-optic one is my, er, favorite.

  12. pokerforprofit said,

    I cannot believe there has been no mention of the single most heinous Christmas decoration of all time……………(drumroll please)………………the popcorn strands around the tree.

    I want to burn down down said tree whenever I see that. Brutal.

  13. danielbalc said,

    While I’m not a fan of the popcorn strands (because I HATE popcorn) I have a strange bit of admiration for those who have them. They require an incredible amount of time and energy to make and typically folks that have them do them as a family unit (homeschoolers).

    I don’t see anything wrong with them. I put them up there with construction paper snowflakes and popsicle stick stars and stuff.

    Homemade craft things are fun for kids.

    Maybe because you grew up in a house full of boys you never did these things.

  14. Aunt Beth said,

    Daniel – I hypothesize that you have a “strange admiration” for those who make popcorn strands because of your Sloan heritage.

    One year Nana and Papaw took us (the youngest three) to a rented cabin in Idyllwild for Christmas. We had an old fashioned tree and decorated it the old fashioned way popcorn / cranberry strands and painted cookies (wrapped in Saran wrap). It took forever to do those popcorn/cranberry strands; and we jabbed our fingers quite a bit with needles. We were sick and tired of painting enough cookies and recognized that the tree was entirely too big for the challenge of decorating it w/o typical ornaments. My Dad was thrilled with the result! We played games and told stories and may have enjoyed some snow – I think there was some old snow and a somewhat sorry looking snowman. I’ll never forget what my Dad told me then about his Christmases growing up. He usually got candy and always an orange, and the tree had popcorn; but only one time did he get a Christmas present – a football. Recollections of that mostly edible, naturally decorated tree will always remain one of my favorite Christmas memories.

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