Hanging Christmas Lights this Holiday Season

Put on warm gloves, tuck hand or pocket warmers in your pockets, wear boots that have a grip bottom, and bring a partner to help do your installations.

Hanging Christmas lights in landscapes post-Thanksgiving can be challenging; there is a rush to get them up quickly and weather often turns wet and cold across most of the country. Working in cold weather – where hands and toes turn numb quickly – can be less safe. With this in mind, put on warm gloves, tuck hand or pocket warmers in your pockets, wear boots that have a grip bottom, and bring a partner to help do the installations. Safety is paramount!

Types of Holiday Lights –Holiday lights have evolved over the last 10 years. You can now find a plethora of design and light strength options. Homeowners need to decide if they want energy savings, warm lights, cool lights, or colored lights that might blink, chase, or stay lit continuously. Another important decision that might also be money saving: do you want the type of light strings that connect end-to-end with one male plug inserted into a female receptacle so that you can use them in long rows, saving how many extra extension cords you might need.

  • Mini-lights or Twinkle lights – These are miniature bulbs and are the most easily found in stores across the United States. They have 1.5 to 2.5-volt bulbs and consume less energy.
  • C-7 and C-9 lights – These resemble the old-fashioned larger lights we used to commonly put on trees. They utilize more energy than the mini-lights and can sometimes become hot. The benefit of these lights is they are easier to see on the tree and are considered more     reliable.
  • LED lights – These lights are much more environmentally friendly. They last much longer, burn cooler, and use far less electricity.

How to Hang Holiday Lights – There are a few bits of equipment that can help you hang lights; ladder, heavy-duty outdoor extension cords, light tester, automatic timer, plastic eave clips (hanging/adhesive/nail-on). Of course, you’ll also need the lights.

  1. Electricity – Find your electrical receptacle and run heavy-duty outdoor extension cords from a ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet (GFCI) for best safety. In a perfect world this will be a switch-controlled outlet, but an outdoor timer works very well also so that the lights can be turned on automatically, even if the homeowners are not home.
  2. Determine Lengths – Measure the length of your home, bushes, and trees so that you can calculate how many light strings, lighting nets, or icicle lights you might need. Measurements of the light strings are listed on the outside packaging.
  3. Test Your Glow – This is very important: BEFORE you install the lights, test them in an electric outlet to make sure they are working. If you need to replace a bulb, unplug the light set, unscrew the dead bulb, replace with a new bulb, then plug the set back in again. If the string still doesn’t work, check for a blown fuse in the set or in your home.
  4. Safety First - Without a doubt, it is very important at this time of year that landscapers pay attention to safety on ladders and in the landscape. Be sure to secure ladders in place before climbing, and in best case scenarios, have a helper hold or steady the ladder while you climb to do the installation. Be cautious not to damage gutters or walls with ladders.
  5. Hanging Lights – When installing lights along the eaves, be sure to put the clips up first. Space them carefully so you have plenty of clips per light strand so that the lights will not sage. If attaching the lights to trim, it is easy to use an adhesive clip or even a nail-in clip. Just be cautious to not place staples or nails around light strings as they can wear-away the coating or pierce the wire, causing an electrical hazard that can result in a fire.

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