Who doesn’t love a beautiful display of holiday lights, shining bright with holiday cheer for the whole neighborhood to see? Lights are a staple of the winter season. But with cold weather, slippery roofs, tangled strands and numerous other obstacles, hanging them can present some challenges. We’ve compiled our favorite tips and tricks for getting your holiday lights up and shining without all the fuss.
You need to start with a good idea of how you want your finished display to look. The last thing you want is to change your mind part way through hanging them and then starting over. Having a plan will also allow you to measure the length of lights you need to ensure you have enough.
For a beautiful light display, choose a focal point and work around that. Maybe you want to focus on your roof, or perhaps you have entryway columns you want to dress up. Choosing a focal point is the best place to start developing a solid plan. Some popular places for hanging lights include along roof lines, around railings or posts, on trees or hedges, in window boxes and along paths or driveways.
Bright Idea: Gather together all the outdoor lights and decorations you have before you get started, so you can see what you’re working with to create your plan.
A good plan can benefit you for years to come. If you like what you’ve come up with, you can recreate it next year without all the trial and error – you’ll have all the lights you need, and can even leave light hooks up on gutters or shingles if they aren’t easily seen.
Make sure you’ve got enough lights to bring your display ideas to life. For areas where you will run the lights linear, such as along the roof, it’s easy to measure the length and make sure you have enough strands to match. If you’re going to hang lights over a tree or bush, this can be harder to predict but a good estimate is 100 lights for every foot of height you want to cover. So, a five-foot evergreen would require 500 lights.
Bright Idea: If you want your house to really shine, you can double up your strands of lights, installing them so that the bulbs are staggered, giving you twice the number of lights for the same area.
In addition to lights, you’ll likely need a ladder, hanging hooks, an outdoor extension cord and a timer.
Don’t make things more difficult than they need to be. For starters, be sure to test all your strands of lights before you start hanging them. Even if they are new out of the box, you don’t want to find out you’ve got a bad bulb after the family is gathered around for the big reveal. When you are checking your bulbs, check the colors of your different strands in comparison to one another, even if they are both “white” – one manufacturer’s “white” may be a different hue or tone from another “white,” and LED lights will give off a different glow than incandescent bulbs. Be sure that your colors match for lights hanging in the same area before you get started.
There are a few tools and gadgets available to help make hanging your lights a little easier. A hanging tool will help you get those lights to the top of the tree and can be purchased or easily DIYed with a broomstick, a wrench and some zip ties to hold it all together.
Bright Idea: Give your existing lights a holiday makeover. Using red or green see-through plastic cups, you can cut out inserts to go into your landscaping or porch lights to change the color of their light.
It’s a good idea to have all your lights coming out of one outlet. This will allow you to put all your lights on a timer. You don’t want to forget to turn on your impressive display when it gets dark, or leave them shining throughout the day wasting energy and money. Set your timer to start at sundown and turn off around bedtime.
In addition to lights, there are many ideas to be found to decorate the front of your home for the holidays. From garland around posts, red bows on the mailbox or a wreath on the door, you can get creative to adorn your house with some holiday cheer.