How to Decorate Outdoors with Christmas Lights
Most people take pleasure in outdoor Christmas light displays but installing them is another story; however, nothing brings out the spirit of the holidays like a stunning show of Christmas lights. Hanging lights can be a daunting task but with proper tools and know-how, you can successfully decorate the outside of your house with Christmas lights like an expert. Follow these simple steps so you can light up your house in a quick, safe and calm way.
Step 1. Consider Design Options
Installing Christmas lights does not need to be a long and tedious process, but outlining your outdoor light design can be. When considering design options, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do I want to decorate?
- What do I want to make the focal point of my display?
- How elaborate do I want my display to be?
- Do I want to decorate around a particular theme?
Once you've answered these questions, jot down your answers on a piece of paper so you won't deviate from your plan. Next, examine the roofline, gutters, shingles and anything else you wish to cover in lights. This inspection will help you determine if hanging lights where you want to hang them is plausible.
Step 2. Measure Everything
Like professional light installers, you should always have a tape measure handy (243-3511). Locate all of your outside power outlets and measure everything you wish to decorate from the nearest power outlet. Start each measurement at the base of the house and work your way up all corners, turns and overlaps that you want to decorate; this includes doors, door frames, window frames and eaves. Record all the measurements so you can get the right amount of lights to make an elegant lighting display.
Step 3. Choose Your Lights
With every passing year, choosing outdoor Christmas lights becomes more difficult due to the new and larger variety of lights. Today, lights are available in a wide assortment of colors, shapes, sizes and styles. When selecting your Christmas lights, remember that you want lights which will function well in your design and satisfy your personal preferences.
Types of Lights
Incandescent Lights Incandescent lights have been around for many years and are ideal for decorating the exterior of your house. Incandescent light strands are available in several colors, styles and lengths, which range from 50 to 300 lights per strand. These inexpensive lights are available in most stores and are used in both icicle lights and net lights.
Icicle lights are mini light strands with short light strands that trail off at different angles, imitating the appearance of snow. To hang up these lights, you should suspend them from your roof, eaves or gutters with icicle light clips (285-0683). Incandescent icicle lights come in an assortment of lengths, thicknesses and color in an attempt to create a somewhat organic icicle appearance.
Net Lights Net lights are essentially collections of interconnected incandescent light strands which form a grid-like web. To install net lights in your yard display, all you have to do is drape your net over small trees or shrubs. These nets incorporate just enough light and twinkle without overpowering your overall display. Not only are net lights easy to install and store, but they also come in blue, green, red, multi and clear colors (284- 2509, 2525, 2512, 2172, 2169).
TIP: When using incandescent Christmas lights, be careful not to overload your electrical outlets. An electrical outlet can only accommodate up to 500 Incandescent lights. Therefore, you can use up to 10 sets of 50 Incandescent lights on a strand or 5 sets of 100 Incandescent lights on a strand. If you exceed the limit, take one of your strands off or plug it into a new surge protector (370-5636).
LED (light-emitting diode) lights are the newest Christmas light options on the market today. These lights have grown quite popular in recent years because they last longer and are up to 90% more energy-efficient than incandescent lights. LED lights may be more expensive than incandescent lighting options, but they make up for it in the long run; this type of light is designed to improve both indoor and outdoor Christmas light displays and save on electricity. LED lights are now featured in an array of colors and designs.
Solar LED Lights
If you're looking to celebrate a very "green" Christmas this year, consider buying solar LED lights. Instead of plugging a light strand into a power outlet or surge protector, a solar LED light strand is generated by a solar panel with a rechargeable lithium battery. With enough natural sunlight, solar LED lights can flash light anywhere between 6 to 8 hours from night until morning, giving your outdoor light display an extra dose of bright color.
Step 4. Proper Tools and Equipment
After you've selected and purchased the perfect Christmas lights, you should assemble all the proper tools and equipment you will need to decorate your home. First, invest in some extension cords and surge protectors. Not only do extension cords resist moisture, abrasion and sun exposure, but they also allow you to connect lights to the nearest outlet even when it cannot reach. And, because you cannot connect LED lights to incandescent lights, extension cords are a necessity. Along with these two items, you will also need a tall, sturdy ladder and Christmas light clips. Use Universal Light Clips (285-0268) because they fit all types of lights, as well as hold onto gutters, shingles and eaves throughout winter. With these tools on hand, you are ready to transform your house and lawn into a winter wonderland.
Step 5. Begin Installation
Before you get on your ladder and start stringing up your lights, you need to do a couple of things to ensure a fast and safe decorating experience.
- Check all of your light strands to make sure they're working by plugging each one into a power outlet
- Work with a partner when a ladder is involved
Now, you can finally begin putting your outdoor Christmas display in place. Start hanging up your display in mid-morning so you'll have plenty of time to complete your display and make any necessary alterations before nightfall. Begin setting up your display by starting at the top (roof) and working down to the bottom (ground). As you climb up the ladder to the roof, your partner should untangle and feed the lights directly to you so none of the strands break or fray. While installing the lights, remember to take your time and be careful.
Step 6. Finishing Touches
Once you've completed stringing all the lights, it's time to add the finishing touches to your masterpiece. Sometimes a homeowner's lawn can look bare in comparison with the exterior of their house being decked out in lights; to avoid this problem, consider adding some lawn décor to your yard. Bring some personality to your house with some candy cane pathway lights (284-0368) or a friendly snowman (286-1165). Not only do lit up lawn ornaments complete your outdoor Christmas light display, but they also boost your household and your neighbor's overall holiday spirit. After you've added these finishing touches, light up the neighborhood and show off your Christmas light display!