Christmas Lights 101

So you're looking to finally brighten up holiday spirits by brightening up your home with Christmas lights. Awesome! So now what?

We've got five things to consider before you deck your halls (or walls... or roof... you get it).

1. Figure out where you want your lights.

Will you focus on a bright, straight roof line? Maybe turning that pine in your front yard into a giant Christmas tree? How about some glowing bushes?

According to a survey involving more than 2,500 consumers--cataloged in a report by Christmas Lights Etc. called Christmas Trends: Consumer Views of Christmas Lights, Trees & Decorating--most folks put up exterior lights on their porches (69 percent), outdoor trees (64 percent), bushes (62 percent), windows (56 percent), and roofs (52 percent). 

Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Ideas Editor Ann Blevins had this advice if you're getting a tad overwhelmed, or have no idea where to start:

Start out small. If you're a Christmas lights novice, light just two or three items, such as trees or bushes, to serve as focal points. Add new displays each year.

2. Decide the style and type of lights you want.

There's a great "buyer's guide" article on the DIY Network's website that details all the different shapes and sizes and types of Christmas lights. From the mini size to the massive G-series bulbs, there are a lot of different options. 

The biggest question in recent years has been whether to buy lower-cost incandescent lights or the newer, more energy efficient LED lights. 

John Riha of the DIY Network had this to say about the seemingly never-ending debate:

Actually, the debate is over. LEDs win in every measure except initial price: A string of LEDs costs about twice as much as same-sized incandescent bulbs. But because LEDs are so long-lasting, the price differential is erased after two to three years of use. 

3. Figure out how many lights you need (or can afford).

For the most part, this involves getting out the old measuring tape and figuring out the length of the areas you want lined with lights. Fortunately, once you get that, most lights come with their strand lengths on the box, as well as their bulb count. From there, you can decide how dense you want the lighting for the given space the strands will cover. 

It can be trickier to know just how to prepare for irregular surfaces, such as trees or bushes. Lowes shared some good tips on their website in their Christmas Lights Buying Guide:

General rule: For heavy lighting, plan for around 200 mini Christmas tree lights per vertical foot-and-a-half of tree. If you prefer medium lighting, 100 mini lights per foot should be enough.

Other tips:
Slender trees will require the fewest number of lights.

Dense evergreen trees like pines, firs and spruces may require more lights. Consider using larger-size bulbs for these.
By wrapping bushes and shrubs with net or icicle lights, you'll cover a greater area with fewer strands--and less work.
When covering tree branches, use lights with 6-8 inches of spacing between bulbs so that you can wrap wires tightly.

4. Think ahead.

According to the Christmas Trends: Consumer Views of Christmas Lights, Trees & Decorating report, 35 percent of Christmas consumers use their string lights year-round for different reasons. Maybe you'll keep that in mind during the selection process. Things like color, style, durability, energy use and more make a big difference when you're thinking about hanging your Christmas lights for mood lighting in, say, July. 

Also, you might want to plan out just how long you'll want those lights up. Do you want to make sure they're illuminating your neighborhood from Black Friday to mid-January? Are you kicking around just leaving them up forever? You might want to check with your homeowners association to see if that's kosher, not to mention the general negative feelings associated with Christmas decor that's overstayed its welcome. (Wayfair names post-seasonal decorations one of its "5 Home Faux Pas that Embarrass the Neighbors.")

Assuming you're going to remove your lights, how are you going to store them? has some ideas. An article by LuAnn Brandsen suggests:

Store holiday lights properly and you'll both preserve their life and avoid a tangled mess.  Make sure outdoor lights are allowed to dry and store in a dry area without temperature extremes.

You can purchase spools and reels designed specifically to store holiday lights or use sturdy cardboard squares or tubes. Cut a slit in one end to hold the plug, then wrap without overlapping. Or loosely loop each strand and place in individual plastic bags.

Finally, take a few minutes to label each strand with electrical tape noting where it was used, and you'll make next year's decorating even easier.

5. Get some professional help.

Look, hanging lights (and taking them down) is a dangerous undertaking. We've gone into great detail on all of the pitfalls and hangups that can take place while covering your home in a glorious blanket of Christmas cheer

After doing all the work of picking lights, styles, timeframe and the works, it only makes sense to turn over the dangerous parts to professionals, like us. North Texas Lawns loves making home and yards beautiful, and we get to do that during the holidays by providing expert Christmas light-hanging that meets your expectations. Call us or fill out the form on the website to get a free quote today! 


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