The holiday season is incomplete without dazzling outdoor Christmas lights adorning homes. As you pull up to a brightly lit home, that warm festive feeling washes over you. From classic white lights edging the roofline to colorful bulbs wrapping the trees, Christmas lights create a magical holiday wonderland.
In this guide, you’ll get the inside scoop on where outdoor Christmas lights may be hung to create a stunning display. We’ll cover safety tips for hanging lights, the best places to install them, and techniques for creative, picture-perfect decor. Let’s get those lights twinkling!
Hanging Christmas lights often involves working at heights on ladders. Don’t deck the halls with broken bones! Follow these tips for safely installing outdoor Christmas lights:
Use Ladders Safely
Inspect ladders before each use for damage and wear. Set ladders on level, secure ground and have someone steady the base when climbing. Make sure to stay within the weight limit and avoid reaching or leaning too far. Instead of stretching precariously, frequently get down and reposition the ladder closer to your work area. Falls from ladders result in over 500,000 injuries per year, so take safety seriously!
Consider the Weather
Pick a dry day to hang outdoor lights. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), almost half of decorating injuries happen due to falls in wet weather. Rain, snow, and ice make ladders and roofs slippery hazards. Check weather forecasts and give yourself ample time to hang lights well before the holiday rush.
Prioritize Electrical Safety
Inspect lights for frayed cords, broken sockets, and faulty wiring before hanging, and discard any damaged strings. Use heavy-duty extension cords rated for outdoor use. Light clips designed for hanging lights are safer for your home than nails or staples which can damage cords. Don’t overload outlets with too many strands. The CPSC estimates over 200 decorating fires each year from electrical faults. Safety first!
Where to Hang Outdoor Christmas Lights
When deciding where to hang your outdoor Christmas lights, get creative with these areas:
Illuminate Your Home’s Exterior
- Gutters and eaves – Line roof edges with icicle lights using gutter clips.
- Windows and doors – Outline frames to highlight architecture.
- Garages – Wrap overhead doors in colorful bulbs.
- Fences or posts – String lights along the tops.
- Landscaping – Spotlight trees, bushes, and shrubbery.
Highlight the Roofline
The roofline frames your home like a holiday gingerbread house.
- Edge of the roof – Run a straight line of lights along the gutter line.
- Dormers or gables – Outline the roof edges and lines.
- Chimney – Wrap the chimney stack in warm white.
Dazzle with Trees and Plants
Trees become magical with lights. Start at the top and wrap downward, securing the cord end. Try these tips:
- Trunk and branches – Wrap trunks and drape lights on branches.
- Bushes and shrubs – Place within and across bushes.
- Columns – Wrap porch columns in multicolor.
- Along fences – Line picket fence tops or posts.
Brighten Paths and Driveways
Welcome guests with a glow along walkways and driveways.
- Path outlines – Border paths with mini spotlights.
- Steps – Place a light on each stone edge.
- Columns – Wrap posts in twinkling lights.
- Driveway – Line the driveway with candy cane stripes.
Preparation and Planning
With a bit of prep, you’ll glow pro! Here are some tips:
Measure the linear feet around roof edges, windows, trees, railings, and any area you want to wrap in lights. Account for extra cord length needed between clips or stakes. Buying the correct amount of lights avoids shortages or trips back to the store.
Determine Power Source
Locate an outdoor outlet, and consider getting a holiday timer for automatic control. Solar powered spotlights work great if no outlet is accessible.
Purchase the right amount of lights after measuring, and get extension cords, light clips, fasteners, or stakes. Pick up any replacement bulbs or Christmas light repair kits needed for existing lights.
Inspect lights, replace any burnt out bulbs, untangle wires, and ensure every strand works properly before hanging up displays. Nobody likes a dark spot! Checking lights ahead of time makes installing them easier.
Hanging the Lights
Let’s get to the fun part—hanging those festive lights! Follow these tips:
Use Proper Light Clips
Space clips designed for Christmas lights approximately every 8-10 inches. Attaching lights too tightly stretches them and can cause premature bulb burnout. Never nail or staple lights directly to surfaces, which damages cord insulation.
Work in Sections
Tackle one section of lights at a time in a logical order, like along a roofline or wrapping a tree from top to bottom. Hang lights in place between clips as you work to reduce tangling.
Clip Lights to Gutters
For roof edge lighting, securely snap gutter clips along the length of the gutter every 8-10 inches. Drape light strings from clip to clip.
Contour Roof Lines
Run lights along the roofline to accent the home’s unique architecture. Outline interesting dormers, gables, or other features.
Begin at the treetop and work downward, wrapping light strings around the trunk and draping over branches. Secure the end of the lights neatly with ties or clips.
Use Ground Stakes
For lighting paths, insert ground stakes every few feet. Loop light strings over the stakes to line walks and driveways.
After hanging lights, deck out the rest of your yard with these festive touches:
Adorn your lawn with fun Christmas inflatables, wire figures, projector lights, or homemade plywood cutouts. Santa, reindeer, snowmen, nutcrackers, and candy canes make great options!
Hang festive wreaths on the front door, garage, fence, and gate posts. Accent with red ribbons or bows for an extra pop of color.
With a bit of creativity, outdoor Christmas lights can make your home a showstopping spectacle this holiday season. Just remember to focus on safety, plan out your design, prep your materials, and use proper installation techniques. As you pull up to your brightly glowing home, that magical feeling of the holidays will warm your heart. Let’s see those lights sparkle!