If you are like most of us you may have hung your outdoor Christmas decorations over Thanksgiving weekend. Or maybe you didn’t. Maybe you put it off until now because you didn’t want to deal with the ladder, the weather and untangling the mess of lights from last year. There is no time like the present to overcome all of those obstacles and get the outside of your home looking perfect for the season.
Gather all the items you will need to begin your outdoor lighting project. The ladder, extension cords, timers, clips, hooks and clamps, power stakes, work gloves and a few basic tools like a hammer, a screwdriver and some pliers. It’s also a great idea to measure everything you want to adorn with lights. Also measure the distance to each power source. It’s a pain, but so worth it.
Decide where you want to hang your lights. Some of the most popular spots to hang lights are on the eaves of your home, or along your roofline. Atop bushes, hedges and trees. On pillars, posts and railings. Around windows and doorframes. Near driveways and pathways.
Unwrap all lights and untangle cords. Swear to yourself that this year you will put them away neatly. Test each light strand before you hang it. Replace burned out or missing bulbs. Toss any light strand with fraying cords. Hang your lights during the day as climbing a ladder in the dark is not very safe. If you can, bribe someone to be your partner. Hanging lights goes much faster with a buddy.
The rule of thumb for how many lights you need is 100 lights for every foot and a half that you want to cover. A 6-foot tree would therefore need 400 lights for the basic lighting. If you want to get a little more ‘blingy” you can double or even triple the amount of lights you use.
Should you need to purchase additional lights for you project make sure you pick outdoor lights, as indoor lights are not meant for the elements. If you can spring for LED lights you should. LEDs are more costly to purchase, but they’ll save you money in the long run. They’re 90% more energy-efficient and last thousands of hours longer than comparable incandescent bulbs. Icicle lights are great for rooflines and eaves. Net and blanket lights make it easy to cover bushes and shrubs.
Start high and work your way down. For safety reasons never connect more than three light strands together. After you’ve hung your third strand go back to your power source for your next set of lights. Use clips to attach lights whenever possible. Please don’t hammer or staple through cords as this can cause damage to the light strand.
And viola – you are no longer the only Grinch on the block without Christmas lights. Take your buddy out for a beer and breath of relief that your holiday decorating project is done.