The Land of Oz: How Much is Too Much When it Comes to Spending on Christmas Decorations?

06 Dec 2018 Derek Osborn
Derek Osborn is the Executive Director of PRIDE of Tuscaloosa by trade and a writer by hobby. He lives in Tuscaloosa with his wife, Lynn, and their daughters, Savannah and Anica.    Derek Osborn is the Executive Director of PRIDE of Tuscaloosa by trade and a writer by hobby. He lives in Tuscaloosa with his wife, Lynn, and their daughters, Savannah and Anica.    Derek Osborn

In case you missed it, news broke in November that the City of Tuscaloosa was spending approximately $56,000 on Christmas decorations this year. I subsequently got some emails from some concerned citizens voicing their frustrations (like I can do anything about it).  

Deck the halls indeed. 

The issue is not whether we should decorate our streets and buildings to celebrate the holiday season… of course we should. The question is, how much is too much – and what do we get as a return on our investment?

By comparison, the amount itself is not all that obscene. Savannah, Georgia, for instance spends a little south of $140K for its Christmas decorum. Of course, Savannah is also a more touristy city, and the money allocated toward the décor is built into a hotel room fee. It essentially pays for itself. 

Let’s go up the road to the more comparable Hoover, whose general budget numbers match up well with Tuscaloosa. Their blinking light budget is just shy of $85K – which is very similar, even though Hoover’s revenue is more dependent on taxes than ours. 

Studies do indicate that decorations add to the enjoyment of your environment, leading to a more positive attitude and, ultimately, to you spending more money while you’re out checking off your gift list. This, of course, leads to more sales tax revenue for the City. 

But you have to wonder, considering how many people shop online, as well as the placement of the décor, how much of a difference do holly and bows make? The truth is that it is probably significant IF the décor itself brings in visitors, and if the placement is in the vicinity of shops, restaurants, and tourist attractions. 

Before you “Bah Humbug” at me, understand that I love Christmas lights. I’m lit-up Frosty the Snowman’s biggest fan. Just come see my yard! But if we’re throwing them up just to make things look pretty, we should probably consider putting some of that money to better use. I love Christmas. I also love sound financial decisions. And the reason for the season means far more than lamppost ornaments.    

Merry Christmas from our family to yours. See you guys in 2019!

I tweet insignificant things @ozborn34.          

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Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

 

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