Scoring the Holiday Displays

By now, you should be seeing plenty of holiday light displays out on people’s lawns. While it should not be a competition, one does get the sense that there are still a few people who try and outdo their neighbors. In any case, I do like seeing the different displays chasing away the darkness. And it is kind of fun to argue over whose is better.

So I’ve come up with a scoring system.

Start with 10 points. Anyone who bothers putting out some lights deserves some credit.


0-5 points for the complexity of the display. Are there lights on the second floor of the house, or on the roof? Is it just the house, or are there lights on the fences and shrubs? The more lights, the more points.

0-5 points for aesthetic value. Is the display balanced, or is it a chaotic mess? Is there some effort to make it look pretty? Is there an overall uniformity to the design of the display, or are lights and figures just out there willy-nilly?

2 points if you can see their Christmas tree inside the house.

0-3 points for personal preference. Toss on a few extra points just because. Perhaps they tried something different, but it just didn’t work out. Maybe you like a particular style that wouldn’t score well in the other areas (the plain wreath on the door, for example).


5 points if there are larger-than-life figures. Who needs a 10 foot tall Santa? That’s overkill. At one house that I drive by on the way home from work, they have a giant inflatable/wire-frame dog – with a red Christmas hat. It must be eight feet from the ground to the top of the hat. Seriously, a real dog could live inside it. WHY?

3 points for any text. People driving by shouldn’t be reading.

3 points for anything in motion. Don’t distract drivers.

10 points for a donation box. If your display is so huge that you need help paying your electric bill, it’s too darn big.

Note: Do NOT subtract points for things like figures that have fallen over or sections of lights that are out. Assume that it just happened, and give people a chance to fix things.

Total up the points. If the result is less than zero, the display has FAILED. Note that it’s possible to get all the penalties and still come out positive if you max out on the additions.

INSTANT FAIL: Any figures of corporate mascots. Look, you may love the M&M characters. But if they are going out in your holiday display, that’s advertising – and you had better be getting paid for it. There’s more than enough holiday advertising anyway.

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