How to Put on Your Own Fireworks Show at Home This Year

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Fireworks are a popular way to celebrate holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Eve around the world, but with COVID restrictions in place in many locations this year, big, public displays may be canceled. 

That’s okay — you can put on your own fireworks show at home. It’s a great outdoor activity for socially distanced holiday gatherings, and kids love holding sparklers, lighting charcoal snakes, and throwing bang snaps. All you need is a decently large yard and a line of fire free of power lines, trees, and structures.

Check Your State’s Fireworks Laws

Before you go and buy a bunch of fireworks online, make sure you’re allowed to light them off in your state. Only one state, Massachusetts, bans fireworks altogether, while many others ban aerial and explosive pyrotechnics. However, a few states allow consumers to buy and set off any kind of pyrotechnic, even the big explosive and aerial ones. While you might be tempted to make a road trip to get the “good” fireworks from a state where they’re legal, reconsider whether you really want a fine and/or jail time.

Mark Out an Appropriate Firing Zone

The most important part of setting off fireworks safely at home is making sure you have the space to do it without setting fire to trees, taking out the power lines, or shooting a bottle rocket through your neighbor’s bedroom window. Layout a “firing zone” of about 200 feet beyond the firing line. Make sure it’s clear of trees, structures, and power lines. Plan to keep spectators at a distance of one and a half times the altitude of your highest aerial firework. So, if your highest firework goes up to 120 feet, keep your spectators 180 feet from the firing line.

Stay Safe

Firework injuries can be serious, and it’s no time to need an ER visit. Follow safety guidelines for handling fireworks. Don’t hold lit fireworks in your hand. Don’t turn your back on a lit firework. Make sure fireworks can’t fall over while they’re going off. 

You can light fireworks in the rain — just cover them in foil — or in the snow, but if it’s windy, postpone the event. Wind can blow aerial fireworks in unpredictable directions. Don’t make this the Christmas you burned the house down.

Wear safety gear when handling fireworks, including long jeans, a long-sleeved cotton sweatshirt (synthetic fabrics are more prone to melting, so they offer less protection against burns), goggles or glasses, gloves, boots, and a sturdy hat that covers your neck. Don’t light fireworks when under the influence of alcohol or drugs — if you take any medications that impair your ability to drive or operate machinery, get someone else to light the fireworks or wait until after the fireworks show to take your meds.

Make It Festive

Many families use a Christmas fireworks show as an opportunity to signal to Santa that the home is ready for a visit. You can look for fireworks that display Christmas colors like green, red, and gold. Kick off the event with a round of Christmas carols. Stuff stockings with kid-friendly stuff like sparklers and bang snaps and let them open these gifts and use them during the fireworks show. Prepare a pot of hot apple cider or festive Christmas wassail and serve it with Christmas cookies — it will help keep everyone warm while they’re standing outside.  

Respect Your Neighbors

You might want to give your neighbors a heads up that you’re planning to light off some fireworks, since Christmas may not be a big “firework holiday” in your area, and they may not be expecting it. And, since it gets dark early in December, you can light off fireworks early in the evening, in plenty of time to eat dinner and get the kids into bed before Santa visits. 

Fireworks are a great way to make this Christmas special, and they give you a good excuse to get everyone together for an outdoor event that’s not as risky as gathering for a meal inside. The kids will love it, and a light show is just the thing to brighten up a long winter’s night.

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