A South Florida Christmas: Deck the Halls with Christmas Decor

Exterior Christmas home decor sure has come a long way from simple lights hung around homes to the elaborate where Christmas light displays flicker to the rhythm of music. The first home Christmas lights are thought to have been put up in 1882 by Edward Johnson, who was an executive at Thomas Edison’s company. Johnson put 80 red, white, and blue lights on a small tree. Businesses soon followed his lead, extending the display to the outside of buildings. President Grover Cleveland had lights put on the White House Christmas tree for the first time in 1895.

General Electric bought the rights to Edison’s bulbs in 1892; and in 1900 the first known advertisement for tree lights appeared in print in Scientific American. The ad contained the gentle suggestion of renting Christmas lights, mainly because they were so expensive. In 1900, one string of electric lights cost $12, which would be a few hundred dollars in 21st century money. Technical innovations brought the price down relatively rapidly,  and the same string of lights cost less than $2 in 1914. By the 1930s, Christmas lights of an electric fashion were ever-present across America.

This clip features one of South Florida’s most iconic department stores, Burdines.  This boutique on Flagler Street had a particularly impressive outdoor neon display of Santa Claus. 



This home movie clip features a Florida family that decked their front lawn with personalized snowmen made to look like each member of their clan.



No Christmas would be complete without family and friends. This clip from the “Miami Movie Makers Club” from 1962 showcases a retro Christmas party complete with food, a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, and a special visit from Santa Claus.



-Ursa Gil-

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