Home Tip Tuesday: Tips on Hanging Outdoor Holiday Lights

Preparation is key to a smooth holiday decorating experience.

Are you anxious to get those outdoor holiday lights strung, or does the mere thought of the annual event give you nightmares of Christmas past? With a few tips and a little planning, the job can be done beautifully and quickly.

Make A Plan
Getting on a ladder and throwing some lights around might seem like the easiest way to finish the job, but you’ll actually spend more time correcting mistakes if you don’t start with a plan.

  • Choose a focal point for your light design. The front door is a common choice. Plan your display so it highlights the home’s entrance. For example, you might flank the door with columns of light or light a path leading to the entryway.
  • Where will holiday lights have the most impact? It may depend on the shape and size of your home and landscape. Popular options include the roof line, around windows and door frames, around posts and pillars, on railings, inside planters and window boxes and on top of bushes, in trees and hedges.
  • Make sure you have enough lights. Measure the spaces you intend to decorate. For trees and shrubs, a general rule of thumb is 100 lights for every 1-2 feet of shrub or tree you want to light. Include the distance to light sources when taking measurements.

Gather Your Tools
Is there anything more frustrating than climbing up on the roof only to realize you don’t have what you need? Make a list—and check it twice—before starting the job. You’ll need:

  • UL approved extension cords
  • Lights that have been tested and are in good working order. Check for missing bulbs or frayed cords before beginning
  • A light-hanging pole for reaching into high trees without a ladder
  • An automatic timer to turn lights on and off on schedule
  • Light clips. No need for nails or staple guns, light clips are available for every type of surface, including decks, gutters, rails and roofs. Check the label for complete information
  • A sturdy ladder

You’re ready to light it up! To make your outdoor holiday light display the envy of the block, start from the bottom and work upwards. Light pathways and low bushes first, gradually working your way to the roofline. Hanging light strings from bottom to top will save you dozens of trips up and down the ladder as you adjust the lights. Remember to step back and look at the display occasionally, checking for balanced placement as you go. And always follow all manufacturer’s guidelines and safety instructions. Blowing out fuses is one holiday tradition no one enjoys.

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