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What brings Republicans and Democrats together? Holiday décor ... lots of it

Right or left, we all agree that your inflatable lawn Santa has to go.
Image: President Trump Lights the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse
Democrats and Republicans agree that inflatable Santas and blow-up reindeer are “tacky," but are pretty cool with light-up sculptures. Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA file

The division between Republicans and Democrats has seemingly never been so heated, but there is some ground where the two staunchly opposed groups overlap: holiday décor. A new survey by Your Storage Finder considered the spending, decorating, storage and other yuletide habits on both sides of the aisle and found that while there are some gaps, the two parties have more in common than we may have thought.

The survey asked over 2,000 people across all 50 states and the District of Columbia a number of questions to learn how their political views might affect the way they celebrate the holidays, particularly when it comes to their preferences for the look of their respective winter wonderlands.

"We understand that for most Americans it's not just stuff; it's memories that are loaded with warm, fuzzy feelings," says Cindy Glover, data analyst for Your Storage Finder. "While we had no preconceived notions, it was pretty surprising to find that when it comes to Christmas and traditions around holiday décor and what they treasure, people are more alike than they are different."

Republicans and Democrats Agree on Lawn Decorations

Republicans and Democrats may be split on immigration reform and gun control, but they’re in total agreement about holiday lawn décor. The groups are pretty much tied (Dems at 42.8 percent, Republicans at 42.6 percent) in thinking those inflatable Santas and blow-up reindeer are “tacky.” But most of us are pretty cool with light-up sculptures, with just 15.8 percent of Republicans and 15.3 percent of Democrats deeming them tasteless.

We’re just a tad more divided on the issue of holiday sweaters, with Democrats more in favor of them (34.3 percent say no to them; while 43.1 percent of Republicans pass). We get back to a place of accord though when it comes to themed trees. Most of us think these are pretty classy, with only 9.7 percent of red-voters frowning upon them, compared with 9.1 percent of those who vote blue.

We All Have Tubs (and Tubs) Of Holiday Stuff

Your voting ballots may look very different, but likely your attics look fairly similar, because we’ve all got a bit of a hoarding streak when it comes to holiday decorations. Alas, Republicans do beat Dems here. The survey found that Republicans have an average of 6.5 tubs of holiday stuff in storage; Democrats weigh in at 5.1 tubs.

Considering that Republicans have more stuff, it makes sense that they take more time decking the halls every year. But again, the difference is hardly dramatic. Republicans spend an average of 3.5 hours decorating for the winter holidays, whereas Democrats spend an average of 2.7 hours.

We Do Greet Each Other Differently

One area where the survey did find a fairly substantial disparity was in the seasonal greetings: Republicans are far more likely to say "Merry Christmas" (as President Trump would prefer) than the more neutral, all-encompassing "Happy Holidays." The survey found that when sending a holiday card, 78.3 percent of Republicans would opt for one that says Merry Christmas, versus 47.4 percent of Democrats; 16.3 percent of Republicans would pick a Happy Holidays message versus 38.8 percent of Dems.

If you're on the fence about which salutation to go with, etiquette experts would likely point you toward something like "Happy Holidays," but not just for the sake of being politically correct as Maryanne Parker, the founder of Manor of Manners is quick to add, but because it makes more sense.

"Usually the holiday celebrations in December through January include not only Christmas but Hanukkah and New Years Eve," says Parker. "It is a combination of holidays. So it is much easier to say 'Happy Holidays.'"

Republicans Spend More on Holiday Gear

Another point where Democrats and Republicans aren’t quite on the same page is (surprise!) money. The survey found that members of the GOP dish out more dough on holiday décor than those of the opposing party. Democrats spend an average of $74 a year on décor alone; Republicans spend $96.

But Parker adds that the gap in percentages here really isn’t that substantial — not when you consider that the holidays has everybody in a spending fervor.

“We are all guilty of overspending for the holidays,” says Parker. “We love to see the excitement on our kids' faces and the people we love. [It’s] not navigated by political atmosphere.”

Because the holiday spirit isn't dictated by politics, we should do our best to preserve that as we seek to enjoy the company of our families — even those with whom we don’t see eye to eye. It’s perhaps a bit corny, but the holidays are a somewhat magical time of year where we can take a moment and be thankful for the people we love, even if we don’t agree with them, and perhaps even appreciate a moment of levity. Lawn decorations and Christmas sweaters may be trivial compared to issues like tax bills and net neutrality; but it’s worth embracing even these little things we have in common.

"When you are in a cozy, beautifully decorated room, surrounded by your family, with the smell of Christmas tree, hot chocolate and freshly baked cookies, I believe for the most of us the political dilemma will be the last thing to discuss or think about," says Parker.

Ah, but if you are a Republican hosting a Democrat at your Christmas dinner, you may want to keep the noise down, as the survey found that Dems' biggest pet peeve are loud, late night parties. The most common annoyance among Republicans is keeping up your holiday decorations too long. Bah humbug!


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