Deck the Halls: A neighbor’s lingering holiday decorations

by EPI Staff on January 27, 2011

Q: The people next door have yet to take down their holiday decorations. Am I allowed to complain?

A: No. If you speak up, your neighbors may feel insulted, creating bad feelings that a wreath and some lights may not really justify. If you’re on very friendly terms, they might be open to a sensitively worded request. But dismantling decorations is a big job, so if you ask them to do it, also offer to help. Say “Are you ready to take down the lights? I’d be happy to assist – two ladders are better than one.”

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Elmo Bram Meijer January 27, 2011 at 11:17 am

While it’s actually somewhat strange to see Christmas decorations by the end of January, I fail to see what exactly a neighbour should complain about. I would say something only if the decorations were a serious annoyance, eg. the lights didn’t let me sleep at night or something like that.

My own neighbour still has a Christmas tree in her garden. While I find this a bit unusual, I would never even dream of saying her anything about it, since it’s her garden and if she wants to display a Christmas tree until Easter, well, it’s her right to do so until she isn’t deliberately deriding religion.

Maybe your neighbour just forgot the decorations or hasn’t had the time yet to take them off, so casually mentioning them is probably the best solution if you really can’t stand the sight.


Not Scrooge January 27, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Dear Scrooge,

As a person who has her christmas lights still up, and her tree decorated for Valentine’s Day, I respond on behalf of all people who love Christmas. What is hurting you about your neighbor’s decor? I agree with the previous post: If it is keeping you from sleeping (be honest) then OK, you can suggest to help your neighbor in taking it down. But honestly, a lot of people get depressed (me) in the winter, and seeing the decor makes me smile! Don’t take that away from them just because you have opinions about how others should live their lives.


Not Scrooge!


Alicia January 27, 2011 at 2:48 pm

As someone who has an annoying new neighbor who has up still both Halloween and Christmas decorations I understand. I agree it looks shoddy to have lingering out of season decor. However, it is their property and they have the right to make whatever decor choice they want. I comfort myself that atn least they do not have pink flamingos or those horrid plywood people bending over front yard decor. I suggest you consider what would be worse and comfort yourself that it could be much worse.


Valerie January 28, 2011 at 3:21 am

What’s wrong with pink flamingos?


Alicia January 28, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Well nothing I guess they are lovely in nature and fetured in one of the most creative local protests I have seen this year

However I really do not want them next door.


Lin January 28, 2011 at 9:12 pm

There are far worse things than can be found in people’s yards, like a rusty tow truck on cinderblocks, or propane tanks placed about like they were garden gnomes. Let’s just say I have yet to live somewhere without interesting neighbors LOL.

I’m certainly guilty of having my outdoor decorations up -we’re renting and aren’t too sure if our next place will lead us to another yard to decorate, so we don’t have much, but since the one outside wreath says “Let it snow” on it and it is still winter (we just got 1″ of snow this morning), I see no reason to take it down just yet (the wreath, the other stuff is taken down).

Mel January 27, 2011 at 3:47 pm

I must admit I am one who is guilty of this too, but only INSIDE my house. I have never, as an adult, had a Christmas tree but it was very important to my spouse that we have one this year. Of course, I agreed and actually I have really enjoyed it, but it still remains fully decorated in my living room. I have simply been busy and haven’t gotten around to it. No one who has visited my home has inquired about it but I would simply laugh and agree that I need to get it stored away and as soon as I have a free day to do so…I will :) I figure they came to visit me…not my tree;)


aw January 27, 2011 at 4:48 pm

I doubt I would EVER say anything, but…what about a pumpkin? I see one every day in the window across the street. It drives me crazy!


Camille January 27, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Who cares? Busy body people spend way too much time worrying about what other people are doing. Leave your neighbors alone it’s their house and their yard to do whatever they want. Sheesh!


Just Laura January 27, 2011 at 5:46 pm

I agree. If this is the worst one’s neighbor is doing, one is a lucky person indeed.


aw January 27, 2011 at 7:09 pm

I think it’s more irritation at what one could perceive as laziness than being a busybody. And also probably the major difference between the ‘P’ and ‘J’ in the Meyer’s Briggs personality test.

P’s could care less, J’s want things orderly.


Dolly January 27, 2011 at 11:26 pm

I am very interested in learning what I can say to people who are speaking too loudly on cell phones near me. This happens in restaurants, in the grocery store, and in lines waiting to check out at a store among many other places. Recommendations ?


Elizabeth January 28, 2011 at 2:40 am

You could catch their eye, give a little smile and put your finger to your lips.

Or, you could mentally jot down a few choice morsels of information and inquire about whatever they were talking about when they get off the phone.

Neither of these strategies will probably elicit the reaction you seek, though, which is for them to stop talking or talk more quietly. Luckily, in most of the places you mentioned, the intrusion is only momentary and you can walk away. However, in a restaurant, I would complain to the waitstaff or a manager. People do seem to shout into their phones at a much higher volume than normal conversation, and you shouldn’t be subjected to it for any real length of time.


Lanna February 3, 2011 at 4:59 pm

I delight in differences in taste and character. Or, rather, I enjoy people who ARE characters. It surprises me that a small deviation from the norm, such as leaving lights up, upsets anyone. It seems kind of fun to me. Should somene gift me with 100 pink flamingoes the neighbors would all come to have a look and a laugh.

I will add that the year my husband had a Christmas heart attack our decorations stayed up until summer when my grown son was in town to take them down. It had never dawned on me that the lights might have upset someone. I hope that wasn’t the case with my neighbors.


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