Find the Best Holiday Light Displays in Your Neighborhood With Nextdoor's Cheer Map

Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo light up the neighborhood in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989).
Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo light up the neighborhood in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989). / Warner Home Video

For many people, driving around the neighborhood to admire the gorgeous light displays (or laugh at the garish ones) is a beloved holiday tradition. But if you live in a big city or only want to check out the most impressive displays, you might not know where to look. That’s where Nextdoor’s Cheer Map comes in.

Nextdoor, a free and private social network that lets you interact with other people in your neighborhood, is used in more than 270,000 neighborhoods around the world, including one out of every four households in the U.S. If your 'hood happens to be one of them, you can use the Cheer Map to find the nearest Christmas light displays in your area.

The map is crowdsourced and voluntary, so your neighbors can mark their own homes with a holiday lights icon. And if you're eager to flaunt your own festive decorations, you can mark your home on the map, too. Just don't be surprised if you have a little more competition than usual this year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are planning to stay at home for this year's holidays, and what better way to ring in the festivities than with a Clark W. Griswold amount of exterior lighting?

You can access the Cheer Map online, or via an iPhone or Android device. To get started, click the Cheer Map link, and you’ll be prompted to create a free online account with Nextdoor if you don’t already have one (signing up is quick and easy). Once you’re logged in, a pop-up window will ask whether you plan on decorating for the holidays; select “I will” or “Not this year,” then click "Continue." If you don’t want to participate, you can also select “Skip” to jump ahead to good stuff and access the map of decorated homes in your neighborhood. And that’s it! If you selected “I will,” a colorful light icon will mark your home on the map.

For those who live in small towns, there’s a chance you’ll be the first person in your neighborhood to join the site. Unfortunately, that means your neighborhood won’t be officially “launched” on Nextdoor unless you get nine of your neighbors to sign up. But even if you aren’t able to use the Cheer Map this holiday season, you could help spread the word (and holiday cheer) to put your neighborhood on the map for next year.

This story has been updated for 2020.