Decorating for the Christmas season is both fun and exciting. But as we approach the most wonderful time of the year, what is the best way to set up your lights? We’ve all seen the perfect houses with their perfect rows of lights, each in place.
So is it possible for your home to look that nice, too? Absolutely!
You can even use permanent Christmas lights to reduce maintenance and stress costs over time–but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Choosing the Right Lights
The first step in setting up Christmas lights is choosing the right ones. It may seem overwhelming because there are so many to choose from, so we’ll break it down for you.
- Christmas string lights are the most common type of Christmas lights that resemble a candle point.
- Icicle lights mimic the appearance of icicles hanging from your roof and windows.
- Battery-operated lights run on battery packs with timers instead of plugging into your house.
- Twinkle lights are lights that flash on and off. Typically, only some lights flash on and off while others stay on. You can program some twinkle lights with different patterns.
- C9 Christmas lights are strawberry-shaped and one of the largest Christmas lights. C7 are the mid-sized lights, and
- C6 are the smallest strawberry-shaped lights.
- Net lighting is nets placed over bushes or trees with lights attached so you won’t have to wind and wrap a string of cords.
Whatever your light of choice is, always check to ensure they’re waterproof. Using inside lights outdoors will only lead to disaster, as inside Christmas lights can’t handle the extreme weather and temperatures.
Creating Custom Lights
If you’re into DIY lighting or very gung-ho about Christmas, you may want to create your own custom lights. For example, sometimes, when you buy store lights, the cord is the wrong length, and you have too many lights or not enough. In that case, create your own customized lights that will fit your home perfectly.
The first step is to buy the right cord. A bulk light line, or empty socket line, can be purchased in 500′ or 1000′ spools. Many professional lighting companies use this line because you can measure it to the right length and then simply cut it without any electrician experience needed.
Then all you need is a slide-on plug on either end. This eliminates the problem of being short a few lights, or having too many. No one likes dealing with excess lights, awkwardly hanging them from the side of the house, or hiding them in a tree. Buying a custom cord also allows you to choose the length between the sockets, choose the socket size for the bulb size you want, and customize any color or pattern on your lights.
The second step is choosing the correct bulbs. There are incandescent bulbs and LED lights, with the LED lights being much more popular. While LED lights can cost more, they have a longer bulb life, a higher illumination intensity, and save on power.
However, the problem with LED lights is that many different kinds and qualities exist. Be sure to research the LED lights manufacturer so you won’t have to worry about burnouts or poor illumination intensity.
If you are on a budget, incandescent lights are inexpensive and basically the same through every manufacturer, so you don’t have to break the bank to find a quality bulb. Once you’ve decided if you want incandescent or LED lights, you can choose the size and the color to match your house.
The third step is choosing the right clip to fasten the lights to your roof. Remember that while retail clips are cheap, you get what you pay for, and they may break easily or leave your string of lights looking crooked.
The typical rule of thumb for clips is one clip per socket, regardless of how close the sockets are to each other. This will guarantee a straight and sturdy line. Make sure to choose the correct clip for the type of structure you’re using, or they may fall off or break. Adhesive clips are best for columns or railings, and universal clips are best for rooflines.
Lastly, you put all the pieces together, and you can make your own lights. Many people are actually surprised how much better custom lights look than the regular retail C9 string of lights. The best part is once you’ve measured and cut the cords and installed the lights that first year, you can reuse your custom lights over and over with less installation time, so your house looks incredible every year.
Preparing to Install Christmas Lights
Never underestimate the power of planning decorations. Just a little prep work can change your house from average to incredible. By measuring where you want your lights, you come to know how many you need. Don’t forget to measure the distance to the power source as well. Make sure you have a long enough extension cord for weathering the outdoors, and your power source is a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) to avoid power outages or fires. You should also test your lights for shorts and replace any burnt-out bulbs.
How to Hang Holiday Lights Like a Professional
Placement is everything. String lights along walkways and driveways, along railings, over doorways, lining windows and the roof, and over the landscape, like hedges or trees. In creating your custom holiday lighting design, pick a focal point to highlight, like the front door, entryway, or columns, and use your brightest or highest concentration of lights to draw the most attention here.
If possible, start at the power source so you will know for sure that you have enough length for your lights to be plugged in. Use adhesive or clips to hang the lights. Rooftop lights can be clipped to the gutter, a string of lights can be wrapped around a railing, and more can be clipped to door and window frames.
If you are installing lights on your roof, make sure you have a secure ladder and helpers to hand you the lights and spot you. Never attempt to set up lights on your roof when it rains or snows. Universal clips will work, but some people use nails or staple guns. While these will guarantee your lights will stay secure, removing them will be more time-consuming.
Christmas Light Installation Services
If you don’t have the time to put up your own lights, you can always hire a holiday light installation service. Holiday decoration services available all over the United States will give you top-quality, professionally designed lighting for holidays, celebrations, events, and more. This will guarantee you a stunning house for the holidays, and allowing a professional to install lights will prevent dangerous situations or emergency room visits.
Holiday lighting professionals will help with interior and exterior lights, and the pricing will vary depending on the extent of the decorations and the house size.
Hanging Icicle Lights
The most challenging part of icicle lights is detangling them since the lights typically dangle on individual cords. So instead, hang the lights with the points facing downward.
How to Hang Christmas Tree Lights
Start at the base of the tree near the trunk. String the lights toward you along the length of the branch to the end, then back along that same branch to the trunk. Step to the side and continue with the next branch on the bottom. After circling the tree and the bottom row of branches, move one row upward at a time. Then, string the lights from the trunk to the tip of the branch, all the way to the top.
How Can I Hang Lights Safely?
Never try to hang lights outside when there is rain, snow, or ice. Set an extension ladder firmly against the side of the house and carry tools in a tool belt so you can climb with both hands free. Hanging a helper to help hand up the lights and hold the ladder is highly recommended.
Permanent Christmas Lighting Installation
Jellyfish Lighting is a permanent, color-changing LED lighting system for home exteriors. It works for holidays, events, or even nightly accent lighting. You can customize your outdoor holiday lights with timers, dimming, or brightening–including over 16 million colors and over 100 preset patterns. Check out our affordable options for bringing holiday cheer (and year-round cheer) to your home.