Episode 140: Bright lights for the holidays

Episode 140: Bright lights for the holidays


In this episode, Mak & G look at the costs the holidays bring, how much people spend on Christmas lights, and how we can bring these costs down…


It’s not uncommon for people to spend hundreds of dollars each year on Christmas lights.


But who spends the most? Why does it cost so much? And how can we bring these expenses down?


In this episode, Mak & G look at the extra costs the holidays bring, why we need to budget and how much people spend on their Christmas lights each year…


“When we think about the holidays we oftentimes forget about all the extras we spend money on.”– G

Time Stamps:

01:00 – The trouble dad has when putting up the holiday lights each year.

01:27 – The extra things we spend money on during the holidays.

02:00 – When people put up holiday lights and how much they spend on them.

03:10 – The cost of hurting yourself and going to the ER.

03:35 – How much it costs to get someone to put up your Christmas lights for you.

04:40 – The different costs to power different types of lights.

05:16 – The Callaway Garden lights that take over 4,000 hours to install.



Callaway Gardens

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MAK: It was a great Thanksgiving week. The ham, turkey, and all those pies were awesome.

GRANT: Do you remember them all?

MAK: Pumpkin

GRANT: Cherry

MAK: Pecan

GRANT: Was there a chocolate one? 

MAK: No, I would remember that, but there was an Apple.

GRANT: Speaking of apple, I can’t believe mom was able to eat it this year.  Sammy made it gluten-free with a graham cracker crust. Plus, dad can’t pass up the Peeecan pie and…

MAK: a pile of cool whip.  You can’t even see the pie and have to dig for it.

GRANT: It was funny when you shot the whipped cream from the can ACROSS the table and onto the chair on the other side.

MAK: That wasn’t my fault, the tip on the can was broken.  I couldn’t do anything about that. 

GRANT: I have to remind you every time, you first MUST check that it works properly by testing it in your mouth!!!

MAK: I know, I know. I just forget.  But, it was still a great week, except for….

GRANT: Sunday afternoon. It happens every year.  It’s cold outside, the sun is shining, and mom and dad work on putting up the holiday lights. Bags come out with a cluster of lights, and..

MAK: dad stands out there all alone trying to work through the mess. It takes hours. They fix some, replace some and start hanging them. Do you think all that’s in the holiday budget?

GRANT: Great question.  When we think about the holidays, we oftentimes forget about all the EXTRAS we spend money on and probably need to make sure it’s accounted for.

MAK: It’s a ton of fun to be festive, but we don’t realize how fast the money goes on stuff like:

GRANT: wreaths

MAK: smelly candles

GRANT: ornaments

MAK: hot chocolate (in the colder areas)

GRANT: lights

MAK: ugly sweaters

GRANT: matching pajamas!!

MAK: Really? Matching pajamas?  That’s not an every-year kind of thing. But, I guess it would be extra if it’s not a present under the tree, which is normally in the budget.

GRANT: You know it all adds up, including the decorations. One study found that almost 2 out of three households put up lights. About a quarter can’t wait and start BEFORE Thanksgiving.

MAK: That is amazing.  Any idea about how much people spend on outdoor lights?

GRANT: I’m glad you asked.  The average I found was actually around $300.  It starts at around $100 and goes up from there.

MAK: Let me ask you a question. Who puts up the most lights on average?  A single person, someone in a relationship, a single parent with kids or a married couple with kids?

GRANT: Married couple with kids.DUHHHHH.

MAK: You NAILED IT!! Ok, I’m rounding but it goes from $200 to $250 to $300 than $400.

GRANT: Having kids is just costly, no matter what, right?

MAK: You got that right! But, we’re soooo worth it.

GRANT: And, we’re lovable too!

MAK: Do you remember the time that dad slipped off the ladder and landed in the bushes.  His face was scratched for a week.  It looked like he got in a fight with a cat. And LOST!!  

GRANT: Wow, you are LOVABLE.  But, it was funny. I’m glad he didn’t get hurt. It’s dangerous.  They found that about 20% of people get hurt hanging lights.  

MAK: That’s probably why you see spending on outdoor lights goes down with age.  

GRANT: Sounds like it makes sense.  Can you imagine the cost of getting hurt?

MAK: Well, an ER visit in the US averages over $2,000.  Not something you ever want to do.  I’d say if it sounds like if it requires a ladder, it requires a different solution.  Would you agree?

GRANT: Abso-bulootly.  You can actually hire someone else to put up the lights, and they GENERALLY go from $100 to $1,100.  But, some people take it to a whole new level.

MAK: Which means it’s much more than $1,100.  Do you remember Mr. Portillo in Chicago?  He started with a hot dog stand, and had restaurants named after himself, called Portillo’s?

GRANT: Absolutely. That Italian Beef Cheddar Croissant thing that dad used to eat was like 5,000 calories.  But, I do love their burgers and dogs.  

MAK: Right there with you brah.

GRANT: His house wasn’t far from ours in Chicago. It was decked out with all kinds of stuff over the holidays.  Mom and dad said it was a favorite that we had to drive by every week as a kid.

MAK: He must’ve spent 10’s of thousands of dollars.  That’s not including the EXTRA costs for stuff. He had to have storage, pay for installation and takedown as well as electricity.

GRANT: That’s the thing with budgets. You have to get into the details. The other day I saw a calculation for lighting a Christmas tree. They estimated a 7-foot tree needed 7 strands of lights.

MAK: But, didn’t you say it makes a HUGE difference in the type of lights that are used?

GRANT: Yep. If you run the mini incandescent lights for 24 hours a day it would cost about $27 for a month.  If you use LED lights, it’s around $3 a month.  

MAK: That’s almost 90% less. But, most people don’t have them on all the time. I read that the average is about 4 hours per day. Many put them on a timer which is smart.

GRANT: Yep. But, it also depends where you live.  The average cost is about 14 cents a kilowatt-hour. But, Hawaii is over 2 times the average at 33.

MAK: Understanding the costs is key, and there are lots of online calculators to help. 

GRANT: Before we go, I found a really cool Light Show, called Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens in Atlanta, I thought we could give some interesting info from their website.

MAK: It has over 8 million lights which could decorate almost 27,000 Christmas trees or outline the state of South Carolina 

GRANT: It was originally started with the help of some professional Disney Imagineers

MAK: It takes 3,500 extension cords 

GRANT: It has over 32 miles of cable and takes almost 4,000 hours to install

MAK: when done, the elves spend over 1,000 hours packing it up into a 6,500 square foot warehouse

GRANT: There you have it. Enjoy the holiday lights and be safe on those ladders.

MAK: See you next time for more…..

GRANT/MAK: Money with Mak & G.  Bye!!

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