A Guide To Decorating For Christmas

Ryan Cole, Sentry Staff Reporter

Not everyone can be like Clark Griswold when it comes to decorating for the holidays. I mean sure, he fell off his ladder a couple of times and his Christmas tree was at least two sizes too big, but his final product was a spectacular display that puts even halls decked with holly to shame.

Decorating for Christmas is a pain-staking, tumultuous task, not meant for the faint of heart. Throughout the process, anger and indescribable annoyance will fester between you and your co-decorators. There will be challenges. There will be setbacks. There will be multiple CVS runs to pick up those stupid little disk-shaped batteries. There will be arguments over trivial matters like whether the tree is leaning right, or left or not at all. All of these hurdles are unavoidable in the strenuous, reindeer-eat-reindeer world of Christmas decorating.

No, unfortunately, unless you want to be the Scrooge of the block, there is no such thing as a quick and easy decorating experience, but it’s being able to roll with the punches that separates the Griswolds from the Kranks.



The quality of a Christmas display depends almost entirely on having aesthetically pleasing lights. Quality lights trump giant inflatables any day of the week and are the foundation for everything else in your display.

The first step in putting up lights is to decide what kind you want. Now, I am not going to get into the age-old debate over colored versus white lights. I’ll let the pretentious grandmothers and the self-proclaimed “fun” dads duke that one out. However, I will say that regardless of which type you prefer, it is always better to remain consistent throughout. People wear socks and sweaters that do not match around this time of year, but mismatched lights are not trendy.

The next step in making sure you have a “lit” house is fairly easy if you have new lights, but if you are using the same strands from last year, “yule” be in for a rough couple of hours. 

Remember late last January when you finally got around to taking down your decorations and you were so careful not to let your lights get tangled in the process? I hate to break it to you, but regardless of how meticulous you were, do not be surprised when you open your box of lights and are faced with a massive jumble of wires and fragile bulbs. 

Most people, when they encounter this issue, react like reindeer in headlights and some even contemplate shelling out money for new strands of lights. Do not fret; detangling lights is like a puzzle. At the very least, you will have an excuse to mutter to yourself and not talk to anyone for a couple of hours.

The next step in the process is plugging in those lights you spent hours detangling, only to realize that multiple bulbs on the strand do not work. So then you end up buying and using new lights anyway, and for some inexplicable reason, you elect to not throw away the broken lights and just toss them back into storage. Believe me, they will be waiting for you next year.



Putting up garland is as painful as repeatedly slamming your finger in the car door. No year goes by where I do not wonder who decided to make garland the next big thing in Christmas decorating. Something tells me it was probably a mom.

The thing about garland is that any house guests you have in the time between now and Christmas will inevitably notice if your garland is half an inch too far to the right. I mean, when was the last time you went into someone’s house around this time of year and did not immediately check to make sure their garland game was on point?

I do not have much advice for putting up the garland. Just remember to remain in control of the situation. If you are the one putting up the garland, then you have the authority to decide when the job is done. Do not succumb to the back seat garlanders.


The Tree

There is an issue with the way society views Christmas trees: we expect them to be perfect in every way. The tree you pick out must have strong branches, it has to be “full” (whatever that means), and God forbid there are any visible patches of any color besides green.

The fact that a living room is not the natural habitat for a tree seems to slip our minds around this time of year and we unfairly judge these poor conifers. 

In this day and age of acute political correctness, it is surprising to me that we are so horribly critical of these trees and their appearance. I mean, tree shaming is clearly an epidemic in this country. We all need to rewatch Rudolph, examine its central theme and realize that every tree is a star in its own way (and also that wanting to be a dentist is okay).

Anyways, once you decide what aspect of your tree you are going to complain about for the next couple of weeks, you are then faced with the monotonous, lengthy task of decorating it. What a treat: repeatedly almost knocking the tree over, dealing with those ornaments that you can only hang on certain branches and attaching together way more strands of lights than what is recommended on the box while thinking to yourself, “well, this probably won’t set the tree on fire, right?” It is a classic Christmas tradition.


In conclusion, the best way to make sure your house is all decked out for the holidays, and that you can enjoy looking at your decorations for the whole Christmas season, is to make someone else do the work.


(For families with both pretentious grandmothers and “fun” dads)