Hanging holiday lights on a home's exterior often brings a fair share of Clark Griswold moments, whether that includes ladder mishaps, dysfunctional outlets, or having to check and recheck every bulb for the one missing link. Despite the grief that decorating can bring, the outcome is a home that is the envy of the block, and the perfect setting for unforgettable Holiday memories.
If you're ready to light up your street and spread the Holiday spirit, here's everything you need to ensure you don't harm your home's roof, siding and gutters, or yourself.
Gather Your Supplies
The type of lighting you choose will depend upon your vision. Icicles and colored lights can be a huge hit when the sun sets, and net lights look great on bushes. Keep in mind that while being slightly more costly, LED Lights will save you the most money on energy costs without overheating, and they come in many different styles and colors. Also, they are designed to last longer-by tens of thousands of hours.
Staples and nails do not belong in your Holiday toolkit, as these are the perfect way to puncture your roof and earn the watchful eye of your in-laws. Opt for light clips, which can fit gutters, shingles and more. Study the package to make sure you purchase the correct light clips for your decorating needs.
Any extension cord you choose should be of outdoor-grade, both water and flame resistant. For lights that run 25 feet or less, opt for a 16-gauge extension cord, or pick 14-gauge over that length. Make sure to plug in your lights before you start working so you can ensure that you aren't too far from an outlet.
No Winter Wonderland is complete without a light timer to ensure that you don't wake up at 2 a.m. with your lights still on raising your power bill and angering your neighbors. There are two types of timers:
- Standard timers can be programmed by the user, with digital controls. While this requires more work on the part of the user, these are very user-friendly and ensure that your lights only stay lit when you choose.
- Photocell timers have sensors that can tell the time of day, and settings that can be set based on hour increments. These are the most intuitive of the light timers, but can have a hard time distinguishing day from night if you live on a street that remains amply lit after the sun goes down.
Take Safety Precautions
When dealing with lights, electricity, and potential outdoor elements like rain and snow, it is important to keep safety front of mind. Make sure all of your cords and lights are in pristine condition, with no wires showing or damaged sockets. Each extension cord should only hold three standard strings of light per cord.
Finally, if you are climbing onto your roof, inspect your ladder to make sure it is in ideal condition as well. AVOID metal ladders, which can conduct electricity, and opt for wood or fiberglass.
1. Measure your space first, and determine where all of your outlets are. This can help you take inventory of how many lights you will need.
2. Come up with a dream for your winter wonderland. The best idea is to pick a focal point, such as your front door, and work from there to add continuity to your design. Wide angle mini lights are perfect to wrap trees, icicle lights make a great addition to the roof, and net lights look best draped over bushes.
3. Begin your project mid-morning on a mild day. Untangle all of your strings, and test your bulbs first so that one burned out one doesn't throw a wrench in your plans.
4. Start at the highest point of your house and move from there. Use light clips to attach each string to your home's exterior surfaces.
5. Enlist a spotter to hold your ladder and help hand you lights as you go. This is a great, family-friendly job for your friendly household elf.
6. Enjoy all Holiday season, and prepared for an easy take down with light clips. Make sure and wrap your Christmas lights in an organized way at the end of the season to help yourself out for next year's Holiday decorating.