Brighten up this Christmas season by adding some festive lights to the inside and outside of your home. If it’s your first time decorating or you want to revamp your current display, this guide will help you pick and hang your lights like a pro this year.
Picking Christmas Lights
Whether you’re decorating inside or out, there’s an abundance of lighting options, from LED to icicle lights to large bulb lights like C9 Christmas lights, and dozens of choices in between. Before going out and buying the first lights that catch your eye, figure out your decorating plan. Determine whether you want white, colored, or multicolored lights. You’ll also want to decide the shape and style of your bulb.
What You’ll Need
Make a Diagram
While decorating for the holiday season can be an exciting time, it’s important to plan before jumping right in. First, start by grabbing your phone or camera and taking some pictures from the street in front of your house. Viewing your home from the perspective of a passerby can help you plan your design. From there, grab a pencil and paper to make a diagram of where you’d like lights to go and how many feet of lights you’ll need for each location.
Measure Twice, Buy Once
Before you go start shopping for holiday lights, grab your tape measure and figure out how many feet of lights you’ll need. Be sure to take into account every place you’d like to put lights. If you plan on wrapping lights around banisters or columns, use string and wrap it around the path you’d like the lights to take, then measure the string. You’ll also want to measure the distance to the nearest grounded outdoor outlet and plan accordingly.
Time to get Shopping
When purchasing your lights, make sure they’re for outdoor use, they can also be indoor/outdoor use. Make sure they can withstand the various outdoor elements such as extreme temp, rain, snow, heat; this will depend on the climate where you live.
After you have decided which lights you’d like and where they’re going, you’ll want to grab some zip ties and light clips, like the 3M Command Small Clear Outdoor Rope Light Clip. Unlike fasteners such as nails and staples, light clips help prevent damage to your home. There are different types of light clips depending on where you’ll be hanging them ie. gutter clips, all-in-one, shingle clips, etc, so you’ll also need to figure out how you’ll want to hang your lights.
Test your Lights
Before you start hanging your lights, you’ll want to make sure they all work – even if they’re brand new. You’ll also want to give all of your lights a quick check to make sure there aren’t any missing or broken bulbs. If you see any that might need replacing, your lights usually come with some replacement bulbs
Hanging Your Lights
Attach the Clips to the Strings
Clip the plastic light clips onto the light strands. Follow the directions on the clip package. You’ll want to space the clips 6 to 12-inches apart, depending on your plan.
Connect the Clips to Your Home
Grab your ladder and begin attaching the clips to the gutters, siding, railings, shingles, or wherever you will need to bring your design to fruition. Take advantage of the picture you took and the diagram you drew to avoid needing to continuously climb up and down the ladder.
Ziptie Where Necessary
The lights can droop if even with only a few inches of space between the clips. If you design has straight lines, or you don’t like look with sagging strings, you can ziptie between the clips to achieve the look you’d like. Zipties can also help keep the lights in place if there is extreme weather such as strong winds or heavy snowfall. Zipties are also great for places that the clips won’t work, such as around decking.
Turn the Lights On
Plug your lights into your outdoor extension cord. Then, plug the extension cord into the outdoor outlet. If possible, make sure to plug them into a GFCI-protected outlet to avoid shock or short circuiting.
Once the lights are turned on, it would be a good time to check your finished design and decide if any adjustments need to be made.
Christmas light FAQ
What’s the difference between LED and incandescent lights?
While both LED and incandescent lights come in a wide variety of color and bulb shapes, there are a few differences.
LED lights typically use less energy and are longer lasting. They burn at a lower temperature and come in both cool- and warm-glow varieties.
Incandescent lights are often less expensive than LED and have a warm-glow.
How many lights will I need?
The amount of lights needed will depend on the desired outcome of your design, how many feet of lights you’ll need, and where you intend to decorate. It’s important not to skip the design/measuring steps in the guide.
Can you hang lights around the roof of your house without gutters?
Yes! They make light clips that connect to the singles of your home, or you can use nails on the eaves of the house.
When Should I Turn my Lights off?
Lights that are left on for too long can become a fire hazard. You’ll want to turn them off anytime you aren’t home. Lights can be left on all night if you’re home, however, some say the rule of thumb is turn turn them off before midnight.
Do I need a light timer?
Connecting your lights to a timer isn’t a necessity, but it can decrease your energy usage and save money. They’re also great if you regularly forget to shut your lights off or turn them on.