Second only perhaps to decorating the tree, lighting your home’s exterior for the holidays is a beloved tradition and a true joy of the season. As with any home project though, safety is your number one priority. Today we’re going to walk through a few precautions for hanging Christmas lights safely, as well as some tips and decorating ideas to take your lighting to the next level.
First off, when running electric cables across your home and landscaping, it is absolutely crucial that all cords are completely intact and free of any splits or frays. If your lights or extension cords are beginning to show signs of aging, just pick up some new ones. Saving a little money today simply isn’t worth risking the safety of you and your family. Likewise, be sure all the extension cords and lights you’re using are UL approved and designed for outdoor use. Again, if they aren’t, or if you aren’t sure, don’t chance it.
If your lighting is going to require the use of a ladder, always be careful and cautious. Inspect the ladder before you use it, and be sure it is in good working order and is intended to handle the weight you’ll be putting on it. Wear non-slip shoes and ensure all 4 points of the ladder are making steady and secure contact before you climb. When on the ladder, you should always feel balanced and stable and should never be reaching or leaning. If something is out of reach, climb down and move the ladder to where you need it.
All that said, when you’re planning your display, be sure to have a game plan. Pick a focal point you love and work out from there. Do you have a beautiful porch/picture window/series of columns you would like to accentuate? Finding something you want to show off can give your decorations a sense of focus that will keep your lights looking put together and cohesive.
For trees and shrubbery, remember that you’ll need roughly 100 lights for every 1 ½ feet you want to cover (a 3’ bush will require 200 lights, a 6’ tree, 400…etc). Also, be conscious of color when selecting your lights. Some folks think just because they’ve decided to go with “all white”, that all brands and styles will match and this just isn’t the case. LED’s will look a little blueish while incandescents take on more of a yellow tone, and in addition to lights varying from brand to brand, aging lights can dim and dull with time. If you aren’t confident the colors are going to match, consider splurging for some new and uniform lights.
When it comes time to actually hang them, before you do anything, be sure to check every strand carefully on the ground. Don’t be the person that gets everything hung up only to realize they won’t light.
For railings and gutters, light clips can make the job much easier. Similarly, a light timer is an small investment that can not only pay for itself in energy savings, but also saves you the hassle of having to turn your lights on and off; maximizing your display time while minimizing your effort.
Hanging Christmas lights doesn’t have to be a hassle! With a little planning and some careful precautions, you can have a beautiful display in no time at all.
Photo credit Flickr. Used under the Creative Commons License.