No decorations please, we're British

Bah, humbug - Christmas lights in my neighbourhood!

Most neighbourhoods have at least one resident who goes over-the-top at Christmas.

But instead of getting into the festive spirit, over a quarter (28%) of Brits would be unhappy if their neighbour had a Christmas display outside their home – though only one out of ten (11%) would complain, according to research by the AA's Home Emergency Response service.*

  • Over a fifth fear outside decorations being stolen
  • 40% concerned about cost of running them

An un-festive 37% don't put lights up outside their home because they think it's tacky, while an economical four out of ten (40%) say they'd be too concerned about the added expense to their electricity bill. However, an entrepreneurial 11% would try to reclaim this cost by asking for donations from the public if they wanted to see the display up close.

The fear of their decorations being stolen means a fifth (22%) wouldn't decorate the outside of their home, with this being a particular worry for those living in the north-east (32%).

Tom Stringer, head of the AA's Home Emergency Response service said: "A brightly lit house is the staple of most neighbourhoods at Christmas. Some displays tend to be more extravagant than others, so it's a matter of taste really, as to whether it's your cup of tea.

"We've found that over half of the people we polled put up decorations because their children or grandchildren like to see them, while others do it simply to get into the Christmas spirit. Those who aren't fans of Christmas displays can at least be comforted by the fact that they usually come down by early January."

The East Midlands is the Christmas decorations hotspot, with 85% saying they get put them up to get into the Christmas spirit, compared to 66% from the north-east.

But it's not all "Bah, humbug". Even if outside lighting isn't for some, 90% of those surveyed do have some type of Christmas tree, with the East Midlands leading the way with 96% having a tree and Londoners lagging behind at 82%. However, the debate over whether we should get a real or artificial tree has a clear winner – 22% prefer the real thing, while 69% opt for its ersatz alternative.

21 December 2012

* Populus interviewed 1,101 AA members aged 18+ from its online AA Home Panel between 5–16 December. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.