'Tis the season for hanging off the roof to add a little holiday sparkle to the long winter nights. Before you pull a Clark Griswold, check out these holiday lighting tips.
1. What Color Lights Should You Use?
Color, multi-color and white lights can all have a place in your winter wonderland scene. White or multi-colored lights are the best choice for hanging on your home. Single colored lights feature best on trees, shrubs, fences and posts. Colors can add a real pop to your winterscape. An all green tree next to an all red tree adds interest and makes the glow from the light more magical.
2. Buy the Right Type of Lights
Buy lights with a female adaptor at one end and a male adaptor at the other. This way you can connect strings to make them as long as you need. Be sure you leave the male end close to the electricity source. For bushes and shrubs consider net lights to get easy, even coverage. Mini lights are the most popular due to their smaller bulb size which consume less energy, but when one bulb goes out on this type, usually a part or worse the whole string goes. When using minis, shorter lengths like 50 feet mean you'll have less to replace in case a strand does go out. Another option are C-7 or C-9. These strings will continue to work even if one light burns out but require more energy to use. In either case, always plug in the lights to test them before hanging. One quick tip for efficient tree trunk wrapping is using the icicle lights. Icicle lights will allow you to go further down the trunk on the next wrap saving you trips around the tree.
3. Where to Place Lights
When placing lights on a home, consider the architectural features like roof lines, windows and doors. You can differentiate features by running two strings together over large features like roof lines or one strand along windows. Try icicle lights on the roof and multi-colored lights around door and window grams.
4. Be Safe
Work with a partner to ensure your safety. Make sure you chose lights that are UL listed for outdoor use. Use a bucket with an S hook to hang on the ladder to hold your supplies. Never hang lights on a tree that touches power lines. Use plastic clips instead of metal to reduce the risk of electrical shock.
Use timers at the power source to regulate when your lights switch on and off. Now when you pull up on a dark winter night you can enjoy the fruits of your labor. Timers also help reduce energy costs and spare the neighbors from bright lights shining in their windows in the middle of the night.
6. Lighting From the Inside Out
Inside lights can also add to the overall affect. Place electric candles in windows and consider the view from the outside when placing your Christmas tree or lit garlands.
7. Tell a Story
If you are ready to go all Chevy Chase on us, first consider a theme. Is it Santa's workshop? Whoville? Frozen? Intricate displays with a theme are always a popular destination on holiday light tours. Grandma's old lighted reindeer can transform into Sven with his Snowman partner Olaf.
8. Pace Yourself In Stages
If you think you're ready to hit the big time and do a giant display this year plan carefully. Poor weather, an illness or just busy holidays could thwart your plans. Start by outlining the lines of the home. Next, add lights to the landscaping. Third highlight fences and posts. If you run out of time, it will still look complete at any stage.
9. Photograph Your Work
After spending so much time on a project it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. Take a photograph to remember the year and it's great to refer to in the future. You can more easily pick out your favorite features to repeat and things you may want to try differently next time.
10. Throw a Lighting Party
When you are ready to revel in your work of art, throw a lighting party. Hot chocolate, marshmallows and some holiday cookies make for a simple gathering for the neighbors. Maybe more folks will want to get in on the action! Or, make it the kick off to your holiday party. Once everyone has gathered for the party, step outside and count down with your friends. Clark Griswald, I heart you!
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