Fireworks at Christmas? It might sound a little weird to some people, but in many parts of the world, fireworks are a cherished Christmas tradition. For example, in Peru, everyone lights off fireworks for a solid couple of hours on Christmas Eve. Christmas fireworks are also popular in Colombia, El Salvador, and Mexico; you can even find Christmas fireworks shows planned in many parts of the U.S., like at Disney parks and ski resorts, and in the state of Louisiana.
This year, when Christmas celebrations look so different than normal, fireworks can be a great way to make the holiday memorable, maintain a socially distant gathering outdoors, and cheer up kids and adults alike. Here’s how to put on your own fireworks show at home this Christmas.
Make Sure You Have the Space
Local fireworks displays might be canceled this year, as many locations enter a second round of lockdowns and restrictions in December. But as long as you have a decent-sized yard, you can have a safe home fireworks show with your family, friends, and neighbors.
If you’re lighting off aerial fireworks, plan to keep spectators at a distance one and a half times greater than the altitude of your highest aerial firework. If your highest firework goes up to a distance of 120 feet, keep your spectators 180 feet from the firing line. Point pyrotechnics away from your spectators, but make sure there’s a clear fallout area of 200 feet or so with no trees, power lines, or structures. You can fire fireworks in the rain — just wrap them in foil — but if it’s windy, more so than a stiff breeze, call off the display. Wind can blow fireworks and their debris far off of the planned flight path.
Check Your Local Laws
Most states allow consumers to buy at least some kinds of commercial fireworks, but laws can vary pretty widely. In Massachusetts, for example, all fireworks are banned, while in South Carolina, you can buy any firework you want — even large aerial and explosive pyrotechnics. Check your local laws before you buy fireworks for Christmas online. You don’t want your kids to remember this as the year Daddy (or Mommy) went to jail for lighting illegal fireworks.
Handle Fireworks Safely
Fireworks can cause serious injury if they’re not used safely. Follow appropriate safety precautions for lighting fireworks. Don’t hold lit fireworks in your hand. Stabilize fireworks so they don’t fall over while they’re going off — you could end up shooting someone or something with balls of flame, and it’s a bad time to need an ER visit. Keep spectators at an appropriate distance. Wear long denim pants, a long-sleeved cotton shirt or sweatshirt, goggles, gloves, and a hat that covers your neck or, better yet, a hardhat or helmet. Save the cocktails for after the fireworks show — you need all your faculties to light them safely. Never turn your back on a lit firework. Keep first aid supplies, and fire extinguishing supplies, on hand while lighting fireworks.
Add a Festive Flair
Don’t miss the opportunity to make your Christmas fireworks more, well, Christmas-y. Have the kids kick off the event with a sparkler-illuminated round of your favorite Christmas carol. Announce that your fireworks display serves as an official signal to Santa that your household is ready and waiting for gifts. Look for green, red, and gold pyrotechnics, in keeping with Christmas colors. Serve mugs of hot cocoa, cider, or wassail (non-alcoholic for the kids) and Christmas cookies to keep everyone warm while they’re watching the show.
One benefit of a Christmas fireworks show is that you don’t have to wait until 11:00 p.m. to light your fireworks. It gets dark really early in December, so you can have your fireworks show before dinner and then herd everyone inside for a traditional Christmas spread, if you want. But since there’s no reason to wait, and you probably want to get the kids into bed early on Christmas Eve anyway, set off your fireworks early and minimize your neighbors’ annoyance — and the possibility of noise complaints.
Are you looking for a way to make this Christmas memorable? A beautiful home fireworks show gives you a chance to bring everyone together for a socially distanced holiday event outdoors. It’s so much fun you’ll want to keep doing it year after year.