One of the most enjoyable Christmas projects is stringing colorful outdoor holiday lights. But planning and hanging a Santa-worthy display can take some time. Bring bright, holiday cheer to your family and passers with these tips to hanging Christmas lights outside.
Here are a few holiday safety tips to keep in mind:
- Choose waterproof, outdoor lighting. Don’t use indoor Christmas lights, outside. Outdoor lights should have a UL tag (underwriter’s laboratory). This means your light set meets UL’s national standards for product quality and safety. Also, check the box to make sure the light set is rated for outdoor use.
- Plugin the lights to make sure all bulbs light up before you begin. When hanging lights above, use a good quality ladder set firmly on a flat surface. Don’t add lights to trees that are near power lines and turn off all outdoor lighting at night. Or purchase an outdoor outlet timer.
- Tidying extension cords- Only use outdoor-rated extension cords. Keep connections dry by wrapping them in electrical tape. Avoid tripping hazards when hanging Christmas lights:
- Tape down cords near walkways, and
- Choose a cord just long enough to reach the lights
Types of Outdoor Holiday Lights
There are several shapes and sizes to choose from! Holiday light strings are available in sets of 25 bulbs on up to 200 bulbs. Become a Christmas bulb aficionado with these holiday lighting choices:
- C6, C7 or C9 Bulbs
- Berry-shaped C bulbs are considered the traditional Christmas bulb shape. The higher the number after the “C”, the larger the bulb.
- C6- C6s are on the small side. Dimensions are usually 1-1/8″ in length by 3/4″ width.
- C7- C7s are slightly larger than C6s. Dimensions are usually 1-1/2″ in length by 1″ width.
- C9- The jumbo-sized, “C” version is C9s. Dimensions are usually 2-1/2″ in length by 1-1/4″ width. The C9 bulb’s large size makes it easy to see from the street and perfect for outdoor decorating.
Measuring in at a minuscule 5/8″ length and 1/4″ width, “mini” light bulbs are long and thin, with a tip at the end of the light. Mini lights are ideal to use when you want to highlight the light’s color and glow, but not necessarily the shape.
Net lighting looks similar to a fisherman’s net as the light strings form a grid. This type of lighting is ideal for adding a glow to trees, shrubs, or columns; areas where you need even light distribution. Unwrap a net light set, gently stretch to shape, plugin and then wrap a few shrubs for fast twinkle along your home’s foundation.
Rope lights have a long, see-through plastic tube with a string of mini lights threaded inside. When the rope light is plugged in, the plastic container appears to glow. Although rope lights are low on the brightness scale, they work great for fashioning colorful garlands or wrapping columns with a soft light accent. Rope lights can also bend into letters or simple shapes.
LED light strings may initially be more expensive, but LEDs use about 10% of the energy in comparison to incandescent bulbs. Plus, they last longer; two to three times longer than incandescent bulbs. LED light strings are safer to use as they emit less heat than other bulbs. When it comes to hanging Christmas lights, bright incandescents wins but LED, lights have more bulbs per inch. So it’s pretty much even.
Find more expert, step-by-step holiday lighting tips here.
Ingenious Ways to Take Down and Store Your Holiday Lights
Hanging or taking downlights from above can be difficult. To make the job easier create a handy pole extension hook from a broom handle and a length of heavy gauge wire. This DIY extension hook also works great for hanging ornaments on a tall arbor.
Enjoy neat, non-tangled lights when you make a handy storage holder from recycled cardboard. Cut shallow, rectangular notches into a square of stiff cardboard. Wrap one light string per holder. Write the bulb color, length, or other useful information on your DIY holder with a marker.
Put these hanging Christmas lights and storage tips to work and use the time saved to enjoy a mug of hot cocoa this winter season.
For more post-holiday clean-up tips, click here.