Time to deck the halls, folks, because December 1 is National Christmas Lights Day! Before the invention of electric lights, families would balance candles on the branches of their Christmas trees—a risky practice that naturally led to several house fires. Electric Christmas lights were first invented in 1880 by Thomas Edison, who promptly strung them all over the outside of his Menlo Park laboratory. Because people were initially distrustful of electricity, however, it took another several decades for the invention to catch on. And it wasn’t until 1903, when General Electric began selling pre-assembled kits of Christmas lights, that electric lights became popular with people of all classes. Today, electric lights are an integral part of the winter holiday season, and certainly aren’t exclusive to Christmas. As we get ready for the end of the year, let’s string up our lights and celebrate. ‘Tis the season, after all.
National Christmas Lights Day timeline
The practice of decorating Christmas trees with candles started in Germany.
Edison finalized the first ever long-lasting filament lamps, which he used for lighting up his laboratory in New Jersey on New Year’s Eve.
The brand NOMA took over the market by storm with its cheaper, colored Christmas lights.
The environmental friendly and cost efficient LED lights become a game changer for Christmas lights and have went mainstream since.
National Christmas Lights Day Activities
Take a Christmas lights walk
Bundle up in your winter coat and take a walk through your neighborhood to enjoy the lights on display. Or, if there’s a place in your hometown that’s notorious for grandiose light displays, take a trip over there to check them out. It’s a great way to stay connected with your community, get exercise, and just enjoy the beauty of the winter season.
Coordinate with your neighbors
If you feel like putting on a big scene with your neighbors, you can collaborate on a specific design together. Whether it’s a repeated motif or an extended scene, this is a great way to exercise your creativity and have a great time with your neighbors. And as a bonus, you might end up going viral thanks to some passer-by with a smartphone.
Set your lights to music
This was a trend a few years ago, but we maintain that it’s still a classic Christmas project. If you’ve got the know-how (or know someone who does), you can set your lights to flash to the beat of your favorite song.
Why We Love National Christmas Lights Day
There’s something about the look of Christmas lights shining on a cold winter’s night that captures the imagination. You’re instantly transported back to your childhood, back when magic was real and life was a lot less complicated. Whether they shine against a blanket of snow or glimmer from the trunk of a palm tree, Christmas lights have their own special kind of beauty.
They keep you warm
Anyone who has ever singed their hand on a bulb that’s been burning too long knows this to be true. Sure, a roaring log fire might be a more efficient way to keep warm (or heck, even a furnace), but in case you don’t have either of those things, curl up next to a bright strand of Christmas lights and warm on up. (Just be careful not to touch them).
They make a great family puzzle
At some point during the months leading up to December, the Christmas lights will inevitably become tangled. It doesn’t matter how carefully you put them away the year before—they will always be tangled when you bring them out again. So rather than be miserable and grumpy about it, gather the family together and turn the Great Untangling into a game! Build up your hand-eye coordination and your strategic thinking skills as you get ready to “step into Christmas.”
National Christmas Lights Day dates