Have you ever wanted to join the other houses on the blocks in their elaborately lit displays of Christmas cheer but don’t know where to begin? This simple guide will give you all the know-how you need to sparkle and shine with the best of them this season.
A Note About Safety
If a brightly lit house is what you’re after, a foundation of safety should be laid before you flip the switch.
Test your equipment before you use it, this means everything from the integrity of the lights you will string to the stability of the ladder you will use to get them to the highest heights.
Test the stability of the material to which you plan on attaching your decorations.
Always plug exterior lights into a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) circuit. This type of outlet is designed to shut down if there is over-current, which will protect your home from electrical fire damage.
Always opt for waterproof or water-resistant strings of lights that have been checked by the underwriter’s lab (UL), and check that they have been rated for outdoor use. The same applies to extension cords. DO NOT use indoor lights outside.
Never overload your circuits – know how much amperage is available per circuit and stick within the limit. If other lights in the house or on the circuit dim when you turn on your display, you’ve probably overloaded it.
Light It Up
The difference between a house that looks stunning bathed in the twinkle and shine of Christmas lights and one that looks like a lighting disaster is in the design. Developing a game plan, carefully planning your design, and giving yourself plenty of time to complete your decorating endeavour will ensure a gorgeous, safe display every time.
Figure out in advance how many lights you will need for your design. A good rule of thumb is 100 lights for every 1 to 1/12 foot of tree or shrub cover, and the denser the spacing the more brightly lit and obnoxious your display will seem.
When neighbours and guests walk by, what do you want them to see first? Choose a focal point – i.e. porch columns or a big picture window – start your design here and work your way out.
If this is your first foray into exterior Christmas or holiday decorating, it’s best to start out small. Choose two or three items to light as your focal points, and add to the display each year. Popular spots to hang lights include:
Along your roof line or eaves
Atop bushes, hedges and trees
Around pillars, posts or deck railings
Around windows, door frames and other architectural features
Near driveways and pathways
Inside window boxes and planters
You can add sparkle to more than your house and trees. Consider ground and stake lighting to add dimension to your holiday display, and multi-coloured lights for outlining walkways, paths and driveways.
‘Tis the season to be merry, and no matter how many strings of lights you employ, a beautifully decorated home is sure to put a smile on every face and joy in any heart that happens to walk by.