ABC’s ‘The Great Christmas Light Fight’ Hosts Talk Filming in Covid and What to Expect This Season

The theme of this year’s season of The Great Christmas Light Fight? Expect the unexpected.

“The light displays were just bananas; things that you could never even in your wildest dreams expect to see,” judge and co-host Taniya Nayak told AfterBuzz TV. “And Carter and I have pretty much seen it at all.”

Nayak, an interior designer featured prominently on HGTV, Food Network, and other major networks, have been co-hosting the show since 2015 with lifestyle expert Carter Oosterhouse. Together they take viewers across the country to the biggest and brightest light shows in America.

Starting Dec. 9, each episode will feature four families’ over-the-top light displays as they compete for a $50,000 prize, as well as the show’s highly-coveted trophy, “The Bulby.”

“I feel like people are just getting more creative than they’ve been in years past because they know that you have to be doing something different and create something different than ever before just to stand out,” Oosterhouse said.

Innovation and creativity aren’t the only things certain to make this Light Fight season stand out. As the show tapes a year in advance, the eighth season was filmed during Christmas 2019 before the pandemic.

“You will see a lot more hugging, a lot more stuff that you don’t see during Covid,” Oosterhouse said. “I think it’s going to be a little bit of a refresher this year to see people gathering on TV and celebrating the holidays because we don’t really do that as much right now. It’s going to really bring it back to that traditional sort of Christmas.”

As seasoned judges of the series, Nayak and Oosterhouse each have their own set of criteria in order for a display to stand out.

“I love nostalgia. That’s a big one for me,” Nayak said. “Whenever I see something that brings me back to when I was a kid, that always builds up points on my side.”

“I’m very DIY-heavy, so when people make stuff, I just geek out over that,” Oosterhouse said. “It’s just so impressive to see people that, whether they’re a true artist or whether they’re a metal fabricator, dive in and create stuff that has never been seen before because they just drew it up in their head.”

Both judges noted that their favorite part of the show is hearing the stories behind the lights.

“Maybe it’s generational, so they’re passing it down from one generation to the next, to the next. And when you see that, it always gives you goosebumps,” Oosterhouse said. “Or when they tell you stories about how families come back to see their lights. So, for instance, this family, they brought their daughter when she was two. Now she’s 10, and she’s been every year, and that’s something that they look forward to every year. It’s little stories like that that communities rally around.”

Nayak added that none of the families they feature are in it for the money but for the people.

“The part that feels so good about it is that they are doing it every year out of their own pocket. It’s not something they’re getting paid to do, and they do it for their communities,” she said. “I mean, really, why else do you do it? You do it to put smiles on people’s faces, to see kids’ faces light up. I always find it very, very endearing when it’s a couple that doesn’t even have kids, and they do it for the kids in their neighborhood.”

Not only are Nayak and Oosterhouse preparing for the season premiere Wednesday, but they’re also currently shooting next year’s season, which they promise will be just as special without the usual crowds and communities gathering together.

“I think it’s actually going to be just as good because of the stories that we’re shooting this year,” Oosterhouse said. “I don’t want to give it away, but the stuff that we’re shooting right now for next year, these stories are incredible, the kind of stuff that’s written in a Hollywood script.”

While we’ll have to wait until next year to see what they’re filming right now, Oosterhouse says watching the stories of family displays this season will be a powerful reminder during Covid.

“The spirit’s not lost. There’s still reason to believe in the human spirit,” he said. “With all the craziness of 2020, you want to just have some faith in humanity and traditions that we have that sometimes take a back seat to a lot of other stuff that’s happening in the world; to not forget that there’s still people out there that are selflessly giving of themselves nonstop for their communities, for their friends, for their family.”

Nayak says if you’ve never seen the show before, this is the year to start watching.

“Especially this year, it will bring a lot of feel-good vibes into people’s homes,” she said. “There’s going to be a level of nostalgia because it was taped pre-COVID, so just to remember those feelings of being around people and hugging and laughing and crying together.”

Season eight of The Great Christmas Light Fight premieres Wednesday, Dec. 9, on ABC.

About the Author

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Meagan Lynn

Meagan Lynn is a host and writer at AfterBuzz TV, actress, and social media manager. Outside of AfterBuzz, you can find her hosting and producing Ten Minute Talks. She loves singing, listening to inspirational podcasts and consuming copious amounts of movies and television shows.