Halloween is over and you know what that means. It's time to put up Christmas lights! With less than two months to go before this blessed holiday, you don't want to cheat your kids and neighbors out of a single second of joyous spectacle. To make sure your display is both cheery AND tasteful, I've consulted our young corps of fashionistas at Southern Living for some easy-to-follow rules for Christmas lighting.

Rule #1 -- The more lights, the better. Don't stop with hundreds of lights. Think thousands. If you have to install an extra breaker box to supply the needed juice, by all means do it. How do you know when you put up enough lights? When a scientist in the International Space Station looks out of the window at night and says, "I can see Atlanta. And right there's [your name here]'s house," you've done it right.

emI can see my house! Photo:

Rule #2 -- Always go for colored lights, never just white. White is so cliché. It doesn't matter if they're all red, all blue, all green, or mixed colors. Color is the key if you want people to stare. And they will.


Rule #3 -- Lights should blink and flash in migraine-producing patterns. This says festive. I just bought LED lights for my screen porch that change from blue to green to yellow to red to boring white. They are a statement I want to make.



Wait for the encore. Wait for it! Don't you wish this was your neighbor's house?

Rule #4 -- Use as many blue icicle lights as possible. There is simply no way to overdo this.



I kinda like this display, but it's too subtle. Icicle it up!

Rule #5 -- Don't forget the lit reindeer from Wal-Mart.

emPhoto: Wal-Mart/em

This one costs only $13.99, but I think we can all agree it's worth a dollar more.

Rule #6 -- Inflatable Christmas characters are a must. Use dozens.

emWhoops! Santa had a little too much nog. Photo: Steve Bender/em

Inflatable Christmas characters should be a big part of everyone's Christmas light display, because they're really, really huge! And that means you get more for your money -- a cornerstone of good design. But they needn't be obtrusive. Flip off the switch to the air pump and they quickly collapse into limp piles of garbage on your lawn.

Well, there you have it -- the basics of what you need to know to create a truly memorable Christmas display this year. Be sure to check the pages of our December home section in Southern Living for more simple yet stylish ideas from our fashionistas!