All I did to the picture was give it a touch of fill light in Lightroom. Mr. Snowman was an absolutely perfect subject. He never argued or gave me a goofy, unnatural smile and he always sat exactly where I wanted him to sit. I had a lot of fun practicing on him. My connection to Brandi's picture is tenuous at best. If you look at her shot you can see some holiday lights and decorations set up around the storefront, that's what I used as my connection. Sorry but it is the Christmas/holiday season and I had to jump on anything I could :).
The key to getting nice Christmas lights is to have a really, slow shutter speed, so use a tri-pod or something to help you stay steady, and as low(wide open) an aperture as you can get to get that nice blur look. Also your subject should be not too close to the lights themselves. Mr. Snowman here was a few feet away in reality, and do not, I repeat do not, use a flash unless you absolutely must. Here is an article worth reading about to help you with those holiday light pictures.
Now settle yourself down with the lights off and your holiday lights on, grab yourself a cup of hot chocolate or coffee or whatever floats your boat, and join me in enjoying this most beautiful part of the holiday season.