How to Hang Outdoor Christmas Lights

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A beautiful Christmas light display makes your house a beacon of holiday joy. Deciding what the display will look like is an important first step -- for example, whether you want a few subtle white lights that suggest snow clinging to the eaves or enough colored lights to convince Santa he's landing on top of Times Square. Create a solid plan, and you'll wind up with memorable holiday decorations.

Things You'll Need

  • These materials vary slightly depending on the amount of lights you want to use:

    • Christmas lights
    • Measuring tape
    • Extension cord
    • Christmas light hooks
    • Extension ladder or stepladder.

    Optional:

    • LED lights
    • Ground fault circuit interrupter
    • Timer
    • Pole with hook.

Planning a Design

  • Define the focal points for your holiday display as the first step. Knowing what parts of the house you want to illuminate should dictate how many lights to purchase, whether a ladder will be necessary and what type of Christmas light clips are required. Some clips attach better to metal gutters; others are made for wood, brick or concrete. Decide on the amount of lights and where you'll hang them before going to the store or stepping onto a ladder.

    One beautifully lit tree or door can make a serene, minimalist design statement. On the other hand, a fleet of light-up reindeer and hundreds of colorful lights are hard to miss, and bring plenty of cheer.

Organize the Lights and Tools

  • Once you've assembled all the materials, plug in the lights to make sure they all work. Replace any burnt-out bulbs. Frayed wires should be covered with electric tape or thrown out. Use the colors of your house to camouflage the wires. White wires will blend into similarly colored gutters. Trees and bushes complement lights with green sheathing. Locate an outdoor light socket that's controlled by a switch so the lights can be turned on and off. Using a timer is another effective alternative. To be safe, it may also make sense to use a ground-fault circuit interrupter that shuts everything off quickly if there's a short in the line.

Hang the Lights

  • Measure the sections of the house where you'll hang the lights to ensure the lengths of wires fit appropriately. If the lights don't match up with the house, your design may need rethinking.

    Use a stepladder or extension ladder to reach any places that are too high to reach by hand. Light-hanging poles can also be purchased for the job, if necessary. Plan to use clips or hooks every 6 to 8 inches to secure the wires in place. You can use brick clips to attach the wires to bricks or concrete. Shingle tabs work well for shingled roofs.

    Gutters are often a good area to start the job, because they are straight and gutter hooks can be attached to keep the wires in place. Vertical Christmas light hooks work well for windows and doors. To hang lights on trees, use a ladder; start at the top and vertically drape the lights or wrap them around the branches to create the desired effect.

    Ask a partner to judge where the lights have been strung to make sure everything is in place as you go.

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References

  • Photo Credit Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images
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