The holiday season is upon us, and it’s time to start setting up your Christmas displays. Whether you’re an individual looking to make a stunning house display, a company hoping to set up something on the grounds or in the lobby, or a public facility looking to set up a holiday display for the public to enjoy, renting a display for the season instead of buying one can make a lot of sense.
Should You Rent?
Renting a holiday display has a lot of benefits over the alternative, which is purchasing the display directly.
First of all, you can consider the price. Renting a display for a few weeks will typically have costs measured by the day, though some rental companies have discounts for longer-term rentals. You may have additional fees as insurance against damage or loss, but they’re usually minimal or baked into the overall cost. Buying the display will usually cost more.
Now, sure, renting costs add up over time. If you rent a display every year, you’ll end up paying more than you would if you had just bought the display initially. That said, if you buy the display, you’re committing to using it long term. You’re using the same elements every year, regardless of changing tastes, and there are only so many ways to rearrange a few large, static elements. With renting, you can change up your display every year, picking and choosing from items your rental company has to offer.
Another consideration is storage for the display. When you rent a holiday display, it’s brought to you, set up and installed, and left until the end of your rental period. When the time is up – after the holiday season, typically – the rental company comes through, tears down and stores away the display items, and leaves. You are not responsible for storing the items somewhere in your office or home.
Conversely, if you buy the items, you have to figure out where to store them. You might have space in your house, but you have to remember where they are every year, not to mention protecting the items from damage from improper storage, mildew, and other environmental factors. For a corporate purchase, you have to find space in your office or warehouse, or even rent a storage facility, which costs even more money all year long.
You can also consider installation as a factor. Large items can be unwieldy to move and set up. Strings of lights are beautiful, but they require installation, and do you trust your family members or employees to climb up ladders safely? If someone falls and hurts themselves just before the holidays, it’s a bad time for everyone involved.
It’s no surprise, then, that we consider renting your holiday display to be a strong choice.
Considerations for Choosing a Light Up Christmas Display
If you’ve decided to rent, great! Now you need to decide what kind of display you want to rent. For many people, this comes down to balancing the scope of the display with the costs of renting it. Everyone wants the largest and most impressive display they can get – it’s something of a tradition – but you need to be able to afford it.
You’ve probably seen YouTube videos by now of those insane displays some homeowners set up every year. Thousands of lights, all synced up with computers, to perform a display synced with music. What you don’t see is the cost; these displays can cost thousands of dollars or more, between the cost of the lights and controllers, the advertising, and the electricity to power them. Do you have that budget? If so, great! Go hog-wild. If not, maybe set your expectations to a more reasonable level.
Your first consideration is the style of display you want. Generally, there are two kinds of holiday display items; the inflatables and the lights. Lights are easy; strands of lights are extremely flexible and can be displayed however you like. There are also light-up wireframes, like those reindeer you see positioned in lawns every year. Inflatables, meanwhile, use an air pump to keep a large balloon shape inflated, sometimes with motors and sound effects to make them more dynamic.
Inflatables require air pumps to keep inflated, which means they make a little noise. Depending on the size and scale of your display, this can be as minimal as a low whine of a small electric motor, or as large as a large-scale air pump. Typically, the noise isn’t all that bad, and if it bothers some people, it can be covered up with a simple stereo system playing some Christmas music.
Lights tend to be cheaper, though some of the simpler inflatables can be very cheap as well. Larger and more complex inflatables tend to be more expensive.
Alongside your style, you also need to make sure you have space for your intended display. It does you no good to rent a 12′ tall inflatable for a lobby that has 10′ ceilings, right? Consider taking measurements of the area that you intend to use for your Christmas display, and have these ready before looking for a rental.
You’ll also want to make sure you have access to electricity. While you can run lights and inflatables on a generator, you’re going to have to keep that generator topped up with fuel throughout the season, and it becomes a tiresome job to maintain. With many of the simpler displays, you can simply plug them into a standard electrical socket, and a generator probably won’t be required. Some larger displays may need dedicated lines or power arrays, depending on the power draw and voltage that your displays are using.
If you’re setting up a public display, you may also want to consider factors like resistance to damage. If a child pulls on a bulb and removes it, is the entire strand going to go out? If power fails, is an inflatable display going to risk damaging anything fragile as it deflates uncontrolled? Usually, these items are safe and redundant but pay attention specifically to older items that may not have modern design sensibilities in mind.
Another consideration is whether you want a religious, secular, or hybrid display. Religious displays, including nativity scenes, are common throughout DFW. Secular displays are also prominent, of course. If your display is public and accessible as an event, you may attract different kinds of audiences with different kinds of displays. Some people like to go visit all the nativity scenes they can find, while others make a game of taking pictures of every Santa they come across.
This can matter primarily in terms of where you rent your items from. Some companies only handle one or the other, and some handle both. Deciding on the scope and style of your display helps you pick an appropriate company to rent from.
Finally, you’ll want to consider the company you’re renting from. There are a lot of potential factors here:
- Is the company local? Local companies tend to provide the best service, though they sometimes have smaller portfolios of items available for rent. While you can get larger and more elaborate displays from national companies, those companies generally ship the items to you in a box and you’re left hoping everything is inside and that you can follow assembly and installation instructions well enough. Always aim for local companies whenever possible.
- Is the company well-regarded? There are some rental “companies” that are individuals with a few items for rent, who disappear for most of the year and pop up just to rent out the same few items over and over again. You generally have little recourse in the event of a failure with these individuals, and many of them are not licensed to practice business. It’s always safer to rent from a trustworthy company.
- Does the company have a long history? Similar to the above, a company with a long-term history is better than one with no history at all. A company with no history may not be licensed or insured, may have been a company with complaints that re-formed under a different name, or otherwise has some issue you can’t see because they have not been in business for very long. A little bit of homework on the company you’re renting from can keep you out of trouble.
- Is the company insured? This is typically more important for things like bounce houses, where Texas regulations require licensure and insurance for safety and accountability purposes. Holiday displays aren’t interactive and aren’t designed for children to play with, so they have fewer regulations. Still, you may want to look for a rental company that meets all of those standards anyway.
- Have you worked with the company before? A rental company that only provides holiday displays only gets to work one time of year. A company like Jumper Bee has rental items like bounce houses, water slides, and entertainment displays that you can rent for events year-round. Establishing contact with a company you can use repeatedly throughout the year is often the better choice.
Your choice of company is important, of course, but you need to balance that with the range of products they have available and the intent behind your display.
What About Computerized Displays?
So, what about some of those fancier computerized displays, like the ones you see synced up with music to create near-animated scenes? Most of the time, these are custom designs. You need a lot of individual strands of lights, but you also need individual controls for circuits and a computer that runs them. There’s no easy out-of-the-box software for setting up these kinds of displays, and as a consequence, they are rarely available for rent. You will likely need to talk to a specialty design company to set up that kind of display, not a general rental company.
We’re not saying it can’t be done, just that you’ll generally need a custom solution. These music-synced holiday displays tend to be the realm of hobbyists, electrical engineers, programmers, and corporations with large budgets. They aren’t as readily available for small businesses or homeowners who don’t have all year to dedicate their time to designing the next display.
Simple displays that flicker on and off or cycle through pre-defined patterns are easier to find. Many strands of lights these days come with dedicated microcontrollers and a handful of light patterns preprogrammed. Matching up a series of strands with these controllers is a lot easier than trying to use circuit controllers and a computer to sync everything up. It might not be as musical or impressive as other displays you’ve seen, but it’s better than a static display (if that’s something you want). Either way, it all comes down to what kinds of tools and lights are available from your chosen rental company.
Inspiring Displays Around Texas
Are you full of creativity and bursting with ideas for your holiday displays? Great! Not everyone has that inspiration, though, so here are some holiday displays coming up that you might check out for some inspiration, either this year or next.
Addison’s Vitruvian Lights – An annual display in Vitruvian Park in Addison, this display has some of the best light-up trees in the entire metro area. If you’ve never been, you need to check it out.
Arlington’s Luminova Holidays – Located in the Globe Life Field, surrounding an ice rink, this light display is one of the largest and brightest in the state. With over 2.7 million lights, replicating something of that scale is nearly impossible, but you can certainly take inspiration from individual elements of the displays.
Dallas Zoo’s Lights – The Dallas Zoo displays are always fantastic, but this year they’ve taken the pandemic to heart and have adjusted their display to be a drive-through experience. It’s fun for the whole family without putting anyone at risk.
Many more – There are dozens if not hundreds of public holiday displays throughout the DFW area. If you drive just about anywhere in town, by November 20th or so there are displays around every corner.
If you’re thinking of setting up a Christmas display for your home or your business, give us a call. We’re happy to walk you through our inventory and help you create a memorable display for everyone to enjoy.
We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas for your displays, and some of the best displays you’ve seen, so leave your memories and ideas in the comments below!