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We Thought You'd Never Ask: white vs. multicolor lights

You've arrived just in time for the latest episode of We Thought You'd Never Ask, the sarcasm-laced series in which my husband and I debate various burning questions sent in by readers like YOU! If you have an issue or need some advice, leave your question in the comments or send me an email at hollowtreeventures {at} gmail {dot} com. And now, time for the show!

Decorating for the holidays is a festive time to come together as a family, bond, sing carols, and disagree about everything from ornament placement to whether or not the star is on straight. Ellen and Erin of Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms know all too well that a source of decorating discord in any marriage can often be the great “white versus multicolor lights” debate, so they wrote in to ask us to settle it once and for all. Is one variety better than the other? If there’s a disagreement, who gets the final say? If I chuck our pre-lit Christmas tree out the car window into the woods and there's no one there to hear it, will my husband just be grateful he doesn't have to hang up my 87 miles of golden beaded garland?

In this installment of We Thought You’d Never Ask, we’re going to shed some light on the right bulbs to use at Christmastime.

Robyn: I’m going to start off by saying that, while I remember multi-colored Christmas lights fondly from my youth and there’s nothing technically wrong, per se, with using them even though it clearly isn’t 1982 anymore, they are an abomination and should be wiped from the face of the earth. White twinkly lights only, thankyouverymuch.

Gerry: Well, at least some of your memory works. I’ll say that I enjoy seeing all sorts of different types of lights during The Season, but none add the same level of festivity as Giant Colored Lights. That’s right, I’m going all the way back to the big bulbs here. LEDs are so… diode-y. Technology did not bring us this far only to be forsaken for white twinkles. In fact, there isn’t much Christmas-y about white lights. Most people use those ALL YEAR LONG.

Robyn: Hey, it’s not Christmas’ fault that people leave icicle lights stapled to their gutters all year. And yes, people do use white lights for party decor and mood lighting at other times besides December, but that’s because their universally festive awesomeness cannot be contained in a single month. As for big bulbs, I suppose they’re fine. For large trees. Outdoors. In isolated areas, since they’re highly likely to spontaneously burst into flames. #safetyfirst #thinkofthechildren

Gerry: There’s nothing festive about white lights in and of themselves. They are only festive in relation to their context, but colorful lights CREATE context. When you see them, you think Christmas. He shoots, he scores! Game Over. As for the kids and fire safety, what are the Holidays without the fun of wondering whether your house will still be there when you return from Grandma’s on Christmas Eve? #ThatHouseWasLameAnyway

Robyn: Colorful lights create something, all right, but it isn’t context. It’s migraines. ALSO, I submit to the court that WE have a tree with white lights, so at some point I must’ve already won this argument. I don’t remember how I did it, but the precedent has been set: regardless of which type of lights is “better” (white twinklies), the final decision is the wife’s by default.

Gerry: If the final decision is the wife’s then why are we writing this column? We have a tree with white lights because it was on clearance, so there was no argument. We both like saving money. So there’s your answer - the best type of lights are whichever are cheapest. Unless they’re the flashing kind, because those suck. Happy Holidays!

So, who do you think is right? (It's me, obviously - go ahead, you can say me.) Leave us a comment to let us know, and ask a question of your own! Then be sure to tune in next time, when Meredith from The Mom of the Year asks about the best way to budget for necessities (like sea salt spray) without your spouse blowing a gasket.

I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!


Billie Zinke said...

I used to be in the white twinkly camp. Then one year I decided to go colored and I LOVE them. We have an artificial tree pre-lit with white lights. It was on clearance but I purposely picked the white pre-lit over the colored just in case I decided I ever wanted to go back to just white. I always add extra lights regardless and with the 6-7 strings of colored on there you don't see the white, just that there are lights lit. Best of both worlds.

Nicole Shaw said...

White, dir. Sorry Gerry. But I do love me some honking nostalgia bulbs, outdoors, on big trees.

I think I'm in love with both of you, in a humor-love way. Basically I'm asking if our punchlines can swing.

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

I love this idea - enjoy them both, without all the commitment! Maybe we'll try that this year... As a bonus, I'll get credit for compromising!

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

Normally our punchlines are pretty conservative, but for *you* they'll dress up in a whipped cream nightie and heels.

mr.welling said...

There's a joke in there, Billie, but it's too racy for this column. You're clearly right, though - at least about the colorful lights. I like white bread, white Christmases, Wite-Out, white teeth, the White Stripes and white ales, but white holiday lights are bo-friggin-ring.

mr.welling said...

We will not try that this year, but mostly because my affinity for a festive melange of blues, greens, oranges, reds, and yellows is 100% dwarfed by my laziness. Our tree already has white lights built in. I think I'll just live vicariously through the across-the-street neighbors and their plastic lawn Santa.

mr.welling said...

Our lines are already swinging, or they wouldn't be punches, they would just be lines. o_o

JustBcauz said...

I think you sent your Elf on the Shelf to my house to spy... this is our exact argument. For years, I've won (inside) and he's won (outside). However, this year, our white lights finally bit the dust and he volunteered to head out for replacements. Late at night. Alone. I should have known better. Now, we have multi-colored lights adoring our tree, but in true #safetyfirst fashion, they are LED. And, my toddler discovered the colored bulb actually unscrews from the LED light. Hmmm.

Gretchin said...

I've come to the conclusion that... I want my husband to start contributing some material to my blog! You two are adorable/sweet/hilarious!!

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

Just to show you how hip we are to holiday decorating, our Elf on the Shelf is a garden squirrel wearing a hat I made out of taped-together felt - believe me, if he'd been at your house, you would know! If I do send him over there, I'll be sure to train him first to attack your hubs any time he tries to go shopping unsupervised. In the mean time, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you allow your toddler to learn that the bulbs are not only removable, but are also deeee-licious.

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

Thank you! It's great to know that we're at least a little funny to people besides us. Seriously, that's a legitimate concern I have - because you never know!

mr.welling said...

Be wary, Gretchin. This is a Boss Level move. By that I mean that your husband better be aware of who's the boss on your blog, and be fully prepared to defer to you at every stage of the process. So... pretty much business as usual.

p.s. Thank you. I'll assume you meant Robyn is adorable and sweet and that I am hilarious.

mr.welling said...

I think she's saying that the covers come off, leaving plain ol' white lights where there once was beauteous color.

Robyn of HollowTreeVentures said...

White lights for the win - again!

Jenn @ Something Clever 2.0 said...

My husband was raised Jewish, so he's always deferred to me for all things Christmas, including my white lights. Well. We got a new tree this year, a pre-lit. Turns out it can switch from white to colored, and I discovered that he prefers colored. We change it day to day.

Now then, the next logical question for your debate would have to be, warm white or cool white? (I'm team cool white.)

mr.welling said...

Warm white or cool white?

1) There is no such thing as a cool white light. White lights are too boring to be cool.
2) They're all warm if you keep them in your pockets where they belong.

rorybore said...

There are so many colours in the rainbow....and my tree has every one! We even added purple this year. that's what happens when the odds in your home are 3 females to 2 males.
But I will confess I am not entirely opposed to white lights - my mom has white lights and on her tree they look fantastic. But she knows how to channel Martha, whereas I.... I like working with popsicle sticks and Mod Podge for my ornaments.

Meredith said...

"The final decision is the wife’s by default."--OBVIOUSLY.

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