Isn’t there just something special about houses lit up with colorful lights for the Christmas season? Holiday lights can really make your home look festive during the holidays, but it’s not a matter of just buying the first lights you see and slapping them up. 

Hanging Christmas lights on the outside of your home takes some planning. You will need to plan where you want to hang the lights, take measurements, and buy the right lights for your needs. You’ll need to test your lights beforehand and add clips to hang them securely from your house. Follow these steps to get your Christmas lights hung properly.

Look at the Whole Picture

Before you do anything else, you need to make a big-picture plan for how you’re going to decorate your house with lights, and you’re going to get it by going across the street and taking a picture of your house from across the street. This will allow you to view your home as passersby see it, and you’ll be better equipped to place lights in places that will catch the eye of those passing your home. 

Use the picture to decide where you’re going to hang lights. You might even want to print it out and draw in where you’re going to put the lights. You can hang bright holiday lights around your porch and on the railings, around your windows, and along your gutters, for example. Many people buy net lights to drape over bushes and shrubs. Some people wind strings of lights around trees or arborvitae in the front yard. If it’s your first year hanging up Christmas lights outside, you may want to start small. You can always add to your display next year, but you may not want to spend hours and hours hanging lights the first year.

Buy the Right Lights

There are many sizes and shapes of lights, from candle-shaped mini lights to strawberry-shaped cone lights. Larger bulbs create bigger points of light that can be seen from further away. They’re best for using on the roof or around the eaves. Mini lights are perfect for use lower to the ground, around the porch and windows.

There are two basic types of lights available today: incandescent and LED. Incandescent lights are on their way out, and LED lights have several advantages. They don’t get hot. They’re much more efficient than incandescent lights, so they’re cheaper to operate. LED Christmas lights last for several thousand hours. Perhaps most useful of all from a decorating perspective, you can connect 25 strands of LED lights together safely, but only six strands of incandescent lights. Whatever lights you buy, make sure the strands are rated for outdoor use.

Measure Where You’re Hanging the Lights

Once you’ve decided where to hang the lights, you need to take measurements so you can buy enough lights. Measure all the straight lines of the house where you plan to hang the lights. For columns and poles, measure their circumference and their height. Divide the height by the desired strand spacing (so, if you’re going to wrap it around the pole every three inches, divide the height of the pole by three). Multiply that total by circumference to figure out how many feet of lights you need.

Test Your Lights 

You should always test your lights to make sure they work before hanging them up. It’s easiest to do this at some point before you start hanging the lights – perhaps days or weeks before. Replace any burnt-out bulbs at this time.

Hang Lights in Good Weather

You want it to be sunny and mild when you’re climbing a ladder and possibly climbing on the roof to hang Christmas lights. If you need to climb onto the roof, make sure it’s clear of snow and ice. Work with a partner who can hold your ladder steady while you hang lights on gutters and other high parts of your house.

Attach Lights with Clips and Zip Ties

You shouldn’t be stapling or nailing your Christmas lights in place. Use a combination of plastic light clips and zip ties to anchor your lights in place. Clips can attach to gutters, shingles, and siding, while zip ties can anchor Christmas lights to gutters and railings, even in areas with lots of harsh winter weather.

Decorating your house for the holidays can really get you into the festive spirit. Make your home the envy of all your neighbors when you plan ahead to hang brilliant, sparkling holiday lights.

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