Dec 09 2009
Now is the time for people everywhere to get into the holiday spirit. One of the most common ways is by hanging decorations, more specifically decorating homes and yards with Christmas lights. An exterior display of Christmas lights can range from a simple strand of white lights wrapped around the front porch rail to an elaborate display of multi-color lights decking the home and landscaping. No matter how you plan to decorate the outside of your home with lights, these tips will help you hang your holiday lights with less hassle.
1. You will need a ladder, measuring tapes, hooks/light clips, holiday lights, extension cords, a hammer, and an assistant.
2. Have a plan. Sketch the outside of your house and determine what you want to decorate – the gables and eaves, the windows, porch rails and columns, bushes, every tree branch. Indicate locations of available outlets on your sketch. Measure and label the width and depth of your house. Have your assistant record the measurements. Measure the height of bushes and trees.
3. Figure out how many lights you will need. Most come in lengths of 25-200 lights. Professionals recommend figuring about 50 lights per foot of height for bushes. If you are using miniature lights, double the number. Decide on a color scheme for your lights and whether you prefer solid, blinking or chasing lights.
4. Purchase and test lights. Choose lights rated for outdoor use. They are usually more weather resistant and larger and bolder making them stand out against your house, garage and landscaping. Test every string of lights before you hang them. There is nothing more frustrating than hanging the lights and turning them on only to find some of the bulbs do not work.
5. Hang the lights. Securely place hooks or light clips at regular intervals under the eaves of your home so your lights will not droop. Hang them one strand at a time making sure the strands are tightly connected. You may want to wrap/seal them with electrical tape to help keep rain and snow out. Your assistant will be key at this time holding the ladder, helping hold the lights, etc.
6. Light trees and bushes. Wrap tree trunks and branches with lights. Wind or zigzag lights throughout each bush. Wrap lights around trellises and other landscape features.
7. If you need to run extension cords, tape them down so no one trips on them.
Additional Safety Tips
1. Hang lights on a dry day. It reduces the chance of electrical shock and slipping on the ladder.
2. Be sure to use lights rated for exterior use. Interior lights are night designed to withstand the elements such as snow and rain.
3. Use multiple outlets to reduce the load on a single outlet.
4. Use plastic light clips or hooks. They are much safer for the wires than nails or a staple gun and easier to remove.
5. Check wires for damage to insulation. Throw away any that are damaged. It is not worth risking a house fire just because you tried to save a couple bucks on cheaply manufactured lights.
1. Purchase LED lights. They use 80-90% less energy than traditional incandescent lights and some can last up to 20,000 hours. They are also cool to the touch.
2. Put your holiday lights on a timer. This way you won’t forget to turn them off before bed, and you will save energy by not keeping them lit all night. Besides, there aren’t many people out looking at holiday lights at 3:00 AM anyway.
With these helpful tips, you are on your way to hanging Christmas lights outdoors safely, spreading holiday cheer and doing your part for the environment.