Some homeowners win $50,000 for their decorations.

By Alexandra Mondalek / Money and Money
December 22, 2015
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This article originally appeared on

Holiday spirit? Try spirited competition.

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It’s tough to pinpoint when Americans started competing so fiercely to have the best holiday decorations on the block. This year, it’s not just enough to have the best lights in your cul-de-sac: across the country, holiday light contests are being held not just for neighborhoods but for entire cities. Some winners claim glory, others get cash. ABC’s nationally televised Great Christmas Light Fight, for example, awards $300,000 in prizes through the season.

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Contestants are judged on such things as design, originality, and sustainability, but no matter where you are in the country, you can bet the most spirited houses will have thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of lights, giant inflatable snowmen, and of course, displays that are synced to music you can listen to on your car radio for the ultimate audio-visual experience. (Never mind that holiday lights can run up your electric bill and—gasp!—even slow your home Wi-Fi signal.)

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If you live near one of these these towns, pile the family in the car and take a drive through the neighborhood for an evening’s festive entertainment, free of charge.