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The great Christmas debate: White lights vs. multi-colored lights

Each year, in living rooms and home-goods stores across the country, the same battle unfolds: White or multi-colored lights?
Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Christmas lights are displayed on houses in Trinity Close in Burnham-on-Sea on December 6, 2018 in Somerset, England.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was originally published on USA Today in 2016.

Each year, in living rooms and home-goods stores across the country the same battle unfolds: White or multi-colored lights?

The battles are contentious with husbands and wives, neighbors and colleagues pitted against each other and searching for compromise.

Katie Eukel tweeted that she and her husband were still unable to reach a unanimous agreement even as they had the two options staring them in the face.

“The Home Depot assistant couldn’t stop laughing at my husband/me as we bickered about white vs. multicolored, cool vs. warm LED xmas lights,” Eukel said.

While many people tweeted that they prefer white lights, others noted that it's not really Christmas without multicolored lights.

But while white light advocates can spew out any number of facts on why their pick is more aesthetically pleasing, white lights aren't always best, according to Marianne Canada, an HGTV entertaining and decorating expert.

That's right, we've consulted an expert to put this to bed once and for all.

Canada said her style is mid-century modern and Scandinavian, so people might think she would lean towards "tasteful white light options," but she prefers colored lights.

"When it comes to Christmas decorations, I like to go all in on colorful lights and tons of ornaments that have an a lot of personal meaning," Canada said. "My Christmas tree is a tasteful an explosion of color."

Canada said over the past few years there's been a trend towards a woodland inspired neutral pallet, with wood tones, creams, and golds. She said it's perfectly fine to mix colored lights with a neutral pallet."

I also feel like people are getting more confident to do what makes them happy and if that is a 1000 white twinkle lights, or going with old school oversized colored bulbs from our childhood or grandparents Christmas tree I think people are about what is comforting right now," Canada said.

Canada says the bottom line is that there is no aesthetically right answer when it comes to lights.

But what if you're having a hard time believing that after years of demanding white lights you should be flexible? Well, your strong preferences probably don't stop at white holiday lights, according to Craig Sawchuk, a clinical psychologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

"You tend to see that they will have stronger preferences and opinions about other things in their life," he said.

Sawchuk, who is Canadian and says he has no light preference, said many people prefer the kind of lights they grew up with.

"Rigidity in preferences can come from holding on to traditions," he said. "Their childhood memories, of going through the holiday season things were done this way, it may be a strong positive memory for them, but when people are overly rigid, they almost have some degree of fear that if things deviate from what they are used to it will in someway taint the positive experience."

But if like many on Twitter, your biggest issue with your significant other is Christmas lights, you should remember compromise is king.

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