How Well Do Your Yard Decorations Reflect What You Think about the Meaning of Christmas?

Is your idea of Christmas secular, religious, or just confused?

Some think Christmas is only a season filled with lights, a season when people try to treat each other more kindly, a season when they give more than usual to others. Some see it primarily as a time to celebrate the coming of Christ to show earth’s people what God is like and to save them from their sins. Some think it’s simply a time to nurture family traditions.

Those traditions often include decorating inside and out. It’s when the family Christmas tree goes up inside and yard decorations go up outside. Those decorations may have secular or religious themes, mixed themes, or maybe no theme at all. Some families celebrate other holidays, during the season and their yards will reflect that.

I plan to explore some of these holiday decorating themes in photos I’ve taken over the years in my city of Paso Robles.

Non-religious yard decor

Non-religious themes can be almost anything wintery or traditional with no religious overtones — Santa, holly, candles, North Pole, snow, Christmas trees, snow people, reindeer, wreaths, and other such symbols. Light and color are the most important common ingredients. Here are some examples.

Secular Christmas Decor, © Barbara Radisavljevic

The scene above has many of the traditional secular objects associated with Christmas: a snowman, presents, reindeer, a Santa figure, and a Christmas tree. And, of course, there are lots of colorful lights.

North Pole Theme, © Barbara Radisavljevic

Everyone knows Santa lives at the North Pole, but penguins don’t. They live in more southern regions. You are, however, as likely to find penguins at the North Pole as you are to find Santa living there. Imagination can put them anywhere. That’s evident in the rest of this yard’s very creative decorations. The entire display was too large and intricate to capture here, but it was secular and colorful. Below is another part of the display.

Snowman Toy Train, © Barbara Radisavljevic

Most yards aren’t as lavish as the one above. It is located on Vine Street and was part of the Vine Street Victorian Christmas Showcase, a long-established Paso Robles tradition. I showed more pictures of this decorated house after the 2015 showcase.

The photos below are more typical of the secular displays I see. This one has a Disney theme.

Disney Yard Decor for Christmas, © Barbara Radisavljevic

The simple reindeer below will be lighted at night. Nothing fancy, but they show this minimalist family wants to participate in the festivity without overdoing it.

Reindeer to Celebrate the Winter Season, © Barbara Radisavljevic

Christian Yard Decor for Christmas

Most Christian yard decorations I saw were very simple, as is fitting.

I love this one all in white.

Outdoor White Nativity Scene, © Barbara Radisavljevic

This one in front of another home is a bit more colorful at night. During the day, it may only be a heap of colored plastic on the ground. Read more on that at It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas — at Least at Night.

Simple Inflated Nativity Scene, © Barbara Radisavljevic

The photo below was taken during the Paso Robles Vine Street Victorian Christmas Showcase. It was displayed on the property of the North County Christian Fellowship Church on Vine Street on December 19, 2011.

This is an annual event. The houses and businesses on several blocks of Vine Street are decorated lavishly for the December showcase. Various organizations provide free food and drink or perform for those who are walking the street to see the decorated homes. There are even attractions such as snow slides, ice sculptors, dancers, bands, and choirs for those walking the street to see and hear. The biggest attraction is Scrooge’s house. But he wasn’t in it this year. Instead, he rode in the parade along Vine Street in a vintage pickup, shouting at everyone. That part didn’t change. You can see pictures of this year’s event here. You will see Scrooge.

Everything changed because of the Covid pandemic. In years past, the street has been blocked off and motor vehicles weren’t permitted. This year it’s been a drive-through event. And for the first time, it ran on two different Saturday nights instead of just one.

But the spirit of Christmas hasn’t changed. It is revealed in the scenes below. It’s the news that God came to earth as a baby 2000 years ago. He didn’t stay in the manger. He came to show us what God is like. He was born to die that we might live forever. Or as it says in the Gospel of John,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1–5, ESV

If you want to learn more, pick up a Bible and read the Gospel of John. If you don’t have a Bible, you can read this chapter or the entire Bible free online.

Morning Star Youth Ranch Living Nativity Scene, © Barbara Radisavljevic

Many churches and organizations have living nativity displays outside on special days during the Christmas season. The one below was peopled by friends of the Morning Star Youth Ranch which rescues horses and mentors at-risk young people and their families. In these displays, both people and animals are live.

Houses that mix up their decorating themes

Some houses I’ve walked by make it hard to tell what they think about Christmas. That is especially true on one block in my neighborhood. Is this secular? Christian? Or just confused? I’m not sure what to make of it. Is that a rabbit where Jesus ought to be or do I need my eyes checked again?

Peanuts Christmas Yard Decoration, © Barbara Radisavljevic

When I moved here six years ago and starting walking the neighborhood before Christmas, this corner house displayed only three decorations. The above was one of them. I think the others were a snowman and a Santa.

Since then the display has grown more each year. Today it’s quite elaborate. There are so many decorations it’s hard to focus on any of them. That’s why I walked around it with my video camera this year. I wanted to show it from many different angles to get it all in. If you look really hard you may find the Peanuts decoration above at the back against the garage wall.

Do you see a theme?

Do you decorate your yard for Christmas? Do you prefer simple or elaborate displays in your own yard? What do you want your yard to say about the meaning of Christmas or whatever December holiday you celebrate?

Christian, bereaved adoptive mom, blogger, amateur nature photographer, voracious reader. Married 56 years. Central Coast of California.

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