From Griswold to Grinch: How Much Does It Really Cost to Light Up Your Home for Christmas?


  • The holiday season is upon us and Christmas lights are up.
  • New data indicates that the cost to light up a home for the holidays is rising steadily.
  • But many Americans don’t care about energy costs when it comes to Christmas lights
Christmas lights costs - From Griswold to Grinch: How Much Does It Really Cost to Light Up Your Home for Christmas?

Source: Juliya Shangarey /

We all have that one neighbor who puts up their Christmas lights the day after Thanksgiving. If you don’t know that person in your town, it’s probably you.

Christmas lights are often the harbinger of the holiday season each year. Adding much-needed Christmas flair to homes, trees and bushes, they can transform streets and even entire towns. New York City’s Dyker Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn has become a cultural landmark due its iconic holiday light displays, and popular holiday films have been centered around families who take holiday home-lighting to extremes.

However, rising energy prices may put a damper on this holiday season for some. Recent data indicates that Christmas lights costs are rising significantly, especially in certain states. For that reason, some areas may have less elaborate lights displays this year.

Christmas Lights Costs in 2023

We all remember the iconic scene in the classic holiday film National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation in which Chevy Chase’s Clark Griswold attempts to light up his lavishly decorated suburban home, only to have a faulty circuit stall his elaborate rollout. As it turns out, if Mr. Griswold had carried out that home decorating scheme in 2023, the costs could have been much higher.

Residential and commercial services provider Mr. Electric recently examined the trend of rising energy costs as the holiday season approaches. A press release discussing the organization’s work reports the following:

“Using the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), they calculated pricing for typical, heavy, and enthusiastic decorators, estimating that the lights would run for 7 hours/day from the day after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. Overall, for Americans with ‘typical usage’ (defined as 1-3 wreaths, a garland, and 10 strings of lights) who use incandescent lights, these are the states where it is the costliest this holiday season.”

The study then goes on to highlight the following states and the estimated added costs to a family’s electric bill based on the above:

  1. Hawaii: $60.78
  2. California: $44.70
  3. New Hampshire: $44.25
  4. Maine: $42.03
  5. Massachusetts: $41.50

Granted, Clark Griswold didn’t live in any of these states. But for the many people who do reside in the aforementioned states, the holiday season may be more costly than usual.

It makes sense that Hawaii would top the list. Ever since the Maui wildfires wreaked havoc across the state earlier this year, its economy has been struggling to recover. Things are especially complicated for Hawaii’s power sector. There has been speculation that Hawaiian Electric Industries (NYSE:HE) may bear some responsibility for the highly destructive fires.

For large family homes in the New England region, energy costs are always high due to the constant cold weather. Now, citizens of New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts may be faced with even higher bills unless they reduce their holiday lights.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Despite rising Christmas lights costs, a walk through many areas, from big cities to small towns reveals that macroeconomic trends aren’t dimming the holiday spirit. Many homes are still brightly lit, and lavishly decorated Christmas trees can be found in many town squares. While it may cost more to decorate your home this holiday season, it’s clear that many people aren’t letting this get in the way of treating passersby to a beautiful lights display.

However you celebrate the holidays, it doesn’t seem as though the trend of expensive Christmas lights will be too big of a factor in this year’s festivities. Energy costs may be rising but so are holiday spirits.

On the date of publication, Samuel O’Brient did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the Publishing Guidelines.

Samuel O’Brient is a Reporter for InvestorPlace, where his work focuses primarily on financial markets, global economic trends, and public policy. O’Brient writes a weekly column on recent political news that investors should be following.

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