Irked that it’s the new year and those tiny Christmas lights are still twinkling? Follow this advice for a diplomatic resolution.
First things first: You should understand that unless there’s some kind of a home owners’ association rule pertaining to them, holiday decorations that linger beyond the actual holidays (even if it’s weeks—or months—later) are not really something that you can be adamant about, says Diane Gottsman, etiquette expert and owner of the Protocol School of Texas. But even though you don’t exactly have a legal argument to make, you do have some diplomacy options. To start, you could casually offer to help your neighbors take down the Christmas lights when you’re out during the day, say, cleaning your gutters or bringing in the mail. Bring it up breezily after a little small talk. But keep in mind: Even if you mention the offer in an easygoing, kind-hearted way, there is a chance it will be taken as an insult—so if you are at all hesitant about getting into a potential standoff that could make life in the neighborhood difficult for you (or just incredibly awkward), you may just want to let the blinking lights lie. That said, if you do have a particularly chummy relationship with your neighbors—and you’re substantially bothered by the delinquent disassembling of lights—it may be worth a shot. There’s a chance you can get away with some nudging if you deliver it in a joke-y way. Need a sample script? Try this one: “Hey! Getting a head start on next Christmas? Ha. But seriously, Alison, any chance of those lights coming down?”