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Graham Roumieu

Every neighborhood always has that one house that goes a step too far on the holiday decor. We all know it, and while we all politely nod and smile with a good-natured chuckle, inside we’re wondering if Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the sanest people in the neighborhood, were somehow body-snatched by aliens who have a penchant for ­over-the-top, awe-inspiring-in-the-wrong-way outdoor Christmas decorations. In other words, Clark Griswold. Here are a few simple tips to help you avoid being that house on the block.
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  • Don’t attempt to make your lawn levitate with multiple inflatables. Yes, little children love them. But a giant Rudolph, Mr. and Mrs. Frosty, plus the life-size snow globes are overkill.
  • Do have a plan. A little pre-emptive work can keep you from running short on lights, hangers, garland, etc.
  • Don’t risk your own neck. If your roofline would make Santa cringe, then call a professional.
  • Do tell someone whenever you head to the attic. There’s a reason the lone man tangled in lights has become an icon of holiday stress.
  • Don’t just fling lights on your trees. It’s not artsy; we know you were just too lazy to drag the ladder out of the garage.
  • Do use discretion when choosing how many lights to hang. There’s no need to make your house and yard so bright it can be seen from the space station. Santa will find the kids just fine.
  • Don’t ignore droops. If a blustery north wind has its way with your twinkle lights, drag the ladder out again and rehang them. Repeat as necessary.
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    Robert Hollins
    Do decorate with meaningful items. Weave these hand-blown poinsettia globes by artist ­Stephen Kitras into hanging­ garlands for an understated­ elegance. Repeat: understated elegance. $42, www.uncommongoods.com
  • Don’t have a single spastic bush. Seriously, if you can’t figure out how to take a strand off “blink” mode, then leave it unplugged.
  • Do add a subtle wow factor to your entry. After all, it’s the main thoroughfare. Try prelit willow branches like these. $10, www.save-on-crafts.com
  • Don’t, under any circumstances, blare holiday music from speakers hidden on your front porch. This especially includes any holiday song by Alvin and the Chipmunks.