Christmas lights

As Christmas creeps closer, and the nights get longer, you can ask just about any North Texan — checking out the homegrown light displays in various neighborhoods is as much a tradition as tamales and NorthPark Santa.

But do you worry you’re missing out on a great neighborhood? Or are you new to the area, and don’t have the skinny on the great displays? Fear not — staffers have been quizzing readers, scouring the Internet, and strapping jingle bells on our gumshoes to find some of the best neighborhood and city-led decoration displays in Dallas-Fort Worth.

And thanks to one of our favorite luxury Realtors, Christy Berry with Compass, and, you can check out our list of great cruising spots this holiday season. Think you might want to find a house in a neighborhood that embraces their inner Clark Griswold, or maybe something a little uh, more Martha Stewart? Stay tuned, because Christy has a listing to share that could get you right in the middle of Christmas central. (more…)

Getting your home ready for winter and the holidays? Take some advice from the foremost in landscape design — Harold Leidner. (Courtesy Photo)

With freezing weather in the forecast, there’s plenty to consider when it comes to preserving the hard work you put into your landscape during the spring and summer. Luckily we have one of the best resources — Harold Leidner, founder of Harold Leidner Landscape Architects. What plants need special winter care? How should you winterize your pool and water features? And what’s the best way to over-winter your trees and shrubs?

Harold Leidner has the answers:


Tasteful Christmas lights are easy to accomplish when you hire the experts at Harold Leidner Landscape Architects. (Photos: Harold Leidner)

Though our winter weather in Dallas and Fort Worth is often mild, that doesn’t mean your landscape is out of the woods. And who doesn’t like to have their halls decked by someone else? Today we’re tackling some winter landscaping questions and myths with the one and only Harold Leidner. Find out how you and your yard can have a happy holidays this season, all without lifting a finger:


holiday lights

(Photo courtesy Anthony Quintano/Flickr)

As Christmas approaches, so do the holiday parties — and chances are, there are some great neighborhood light displays to check out on your way to that ugly sweater party or that company dinner.

But how do you know for sure? Thanks to  Christine McKenny of Allie Beth Allman & Associates, and, you can check out our list of great cruising spots this holiday season. (more…)

From Klyde Warren Park and downtown to the Park Cities to Swiss Avenue to Addison and beyond, we have your must-see neighborhoods on a handy map (Photo courtesy Flickr/skys the limit 2).

If you’ve lived in Dallas-Fort Worth for any length of time, you know that shortly after Thanksgiving Day — whether it’s 80 degrees or 20 — it’s a time-honored tradition to check out the Christmas light displays in nearby neighborhoods.

But do you ever have FOMO on your expeditions? Perhaps you worry that as much as you love the regular haunts you cruise through during the holidays, there might be new displays to check out, too. Or maybe you’re pretty new to the area and have no idea where exactly to go.

Thanks to and sponsor Christine McKenny of Allie Beth Allman & Associates, you can FOMO no more – because we’ve created this handy map of key spots to check out Christmas lights. (more…)

Want incredible Christmas lights like Highland Park Village? Hire a professional. (Photos: Sarah Beauregard)

Want incredible Christmas lights like Highland Park Village? Hire a professional. (Photos: Sarah Beauregard)

The cool weather has set in, Thanksgiving has passed and the holiday season is upon us. That means it’s time to pull out your festive sweaters, create your party menus, and make a plan for your holiday lights. Of course the exquisite Highland Park Village lights come to mind as we think about our city’s most stunning holiday display. That’s why we chatted with Christmas Light Company, who annually installs the Village’s lights, and many of our city’s grandest displays — the Galleria, the AT&T Performing Arts Center, and the Hilton Anatole — to learn the ins-and-outs of Christmas light installations.

“Right now LED Lights are popular,” General Manager of Christmas Light Company, Antonio Garcia says. “They use 90 percent less power.”

He explains that it’s important you hire a professional company that knows the difference between LED and incandescent lights, because to the eye, the lights look the same.

As far as hiring contractors is concerned, Garcia suggests you do your research before letting someone install your lights.


Fav xmas lights 12 2013The 1% like it bright! This article in the Wall Street Journal a couple weeks ago tickled me: it was like a eureka — people spent thousands of dollars on holiday lights, like $15,000 and upwards, to decorate for the holidays. And further eureka:

More Americans are forgoing the difficult and sometimes risky endeavor of installing their own holiday lights, asking professionals to take their place on the ladder. National chain Christmas Decor, which has 40,000 clients across the U.S., says it has seen sales increase 11% every year for the past four years.

This shift means that holiday displays can get even more extravagant and elaborate. Many installers say they have worked on décor that cost as much as $80,000. Prices are typically based on the number of lights and the size of job.

Elaborate lights 11024px-Dyker_Heights_lites_2010_jehAnd as we know after a drive down Armstrong Parkway, or on Deloach in Preston Hollow where the late Harold Simmons and his wife, Annette, charmed drivers with an elaborate, animated holiday display: holiday lights are now more complicated, with way more gimmicks, colors and choices. LED lights use less electricity, but they look different, whiter, than standard “candle-light” lights. Thus

Vance Brand, a Christmas-light specialist in Salt Lake City who works with 1,500 clients in Utah and Colorado, offers his customers 10 shades of white LED Christmas lights. With schematics planned out using computer models, the bulbs dance and twinkle, often to coordinated music. Mr. Brand, who says his business has grown 22% a year since 2008, installs and takes down the lights after the season is over. He says he has even rappelled over a cliff to hang strands on one precariously situated holiday enthusiast’s home.

You know that if you waited to put up your holiday lights the day after Thanksgiving, you were too late in North Texas. Everyone knows that in August, when the mercury hits 112 degrees, that is your cue to start thinking about some hot Christmas lights. This is when you schedule your installation, otherwise it’s too late. Sure, you can do them yourself you DIYer you, but if you haven’t cleaned out the lighting department at Loew’s prior to Thanksgiving, it’s too late.

Oh and no matter how many strands and boxes you buy, thinking, this should cover that tree, you will not have enough lights and when you go back for more, they will be out.

That is the cardinal rule of holiday lighting.

Years ago, I gave the ladder to the professionals. I simplified my lights to cover one large Live Oak tree, and that is it. I get away cheap: $1500. (My husband swears he will use this against me if we ever divorce.) My friends in Highland Park say the more elaborate lights require a cash outlay (or credit card) of $30,000 and up — some of those lawns you ohh and ahh over run upwards of $75,000.

4b189c10415a5Plus they must be installed correctly. Nothing irritates professional landscape lighting landscapers more than the “pop-up” shops that emerge come October & November, who send out un-trained teams of (sometimes) guest workers who overload home circuits, which could potentially start fires.

“The best thing to do is have a professional company install exterior plugs dedicated to the Christmas lights,” said Johnny Moore of Unique Electric.

There is a company in Birmingham that sells clients the lights to decorate exterior structures with lights.  They obtain the products, fit them, install the lights, garlands, bows and wreaths and maintain them for the homeowner during the Christmas season. After the holidays, they take everything down, pack and store them for homeowners in a warehouse.

That is what I call heaven.

I know companies, even individuals, like Lights of Christmas, Inc. exist in Dallas. Now I am ready for the next step: someone to maintain my interior decorations. That 8 foot tall pre-lit tree, bannister and fireplace garland, all of it is cumbersome! If a company wants to bring my stuff over all pre-decorated from a nice big storage unit well, then, I guess that will save me building a walk-in closet for the Christmas tree!

Seriously: how much did you spend on holiday lights this year? And is $60,000 too much??? Is $1500?



Oslo 2It’s snowy and dark in Oslo, Norway, during the month of December. A reader sent in his holiday photos from the country that gets about 5 hours of daylight during winter.

Oslo 1

Have snapshots of Christmas lights? Share them with us!

Snowy Santa Oslo