How to Hang Your Christmas Lights Safely and Painlessly

‘Tis the season to indulge in a little holiday cheer, and what better way is there to do so than by decking your home out in Christmas lights? With that said, many homeowners dread the holiday season precisely because they view the process of putting up lights as a hassle, turning what would be a nice winter weekend into a trouble-filled series of broken bulbs and frozen fingers. But, with a bit of proper planning, hanging your Christmas lights can be a painless process you can knock out in just a few hours on a Sunday afternoon. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to hang outdoor Christmas lights, all so that you can have a holiday display that’s sure to make the neighbors jealous!

How to Hang Christmas Lights on Rooflines and Eaves

The best place to start is at the very top, so begin by outlining the rooflines and eaves of your home. Use clips or hooks designed for outdoor use to gently attach the lights along the edge of your roof (these are preferable to nails or staples, as they’re easier to remove when you’re taking your light display down). Be sure that the lights are evenly spaced, and keep an eye out for overhanging branches that might obstruct or damage them.

How to Hang Christmas Lights Around Windows and Doors

For windows and doors, it’s best to continue avoiding staples and nails, so adhesive clips are your go-to for securing your lights around the frames without causing damage. Before you put them up, connect strands of lights together based on the measurements of your windows and doors (more on that below) — that way, you won’t have to worry about connecting them while you’re trying to hang them up. Then, when you’re putting them up, check that each bulb is facing the same direction, and be sure that each window and door is covered relatively equally.

How to Hang Christmas Lights on Trees and Bushes

If you really want to take your light display to the next level, deck out your trees and bushes with Christmas lights. For trees located farther from power sources, consider incorporating waterproof, battery-operated LED lights to save you the effort of running a power cord across your yard. When decorating, start from the base and work your way up, using the formula (height / separation between lights) x circumference to measure how many strands of lights you’ll need (be sure to make separate calculations for the trunk and each branch you decorate – your middle school math teacher will be so proud). Luckily, bushes aren’t as math-intensive as their larger counterparts. Just intertwine the lights with each branch, stepping back every few moments to ensure an even distribution. For both bushes and trees, you likely won’t need clips if you’ve wrapped your lights tightly and securely (but be sure they aren’t too tight, because trees can swell slightly after rain).

How to Set Up Ground Lighting

For ground-level lighting, strands with large, spaced-out bulbs are your best bet. Secure each bulb using ground stakes – these will prevent your lights from becoming a tripping hazard while protecting them from moisture. You can even use solar-powered stakes if you want to keep your lights from driving up your energy bill. In any case, as you secure each bulb, be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure they’re anchored correctly, and check that all your lights are facing upward so they can light up your yard as much as possible!

Safety First!

Of course, when you’re hanging up your lights, there’s nothing more important than safety. From tripping hazards to electrical problems, there’s a lot that can go wrong. But, there’s no need to worry if you take the proper precautions! You can create a hazard-free Christmas lights display by:
  • Using a sturdy ladder: When working on rooflines and trees, use a study ladder placed on firm, flat ground, and have a partner hold it to keep it from moving. Avoid using furniture or similarly unstable surfaces as makeshift ladders.
  • Securely fastening lights: Ensure that your lights are tightly fastened using the clips or hooks we mentioned previously. This not only enhances your display’s appearance but also prevents potential hazards caused by loose or dangling lights.
  • Avoiding overloading circuits: Follow manufacturer guidelines regarding the maximum number of lights that can be connected in a single strand, as overloading circuits can damage your electrical system or even start a fire.
  • Checking for outdoor-rated lights: This is a no-brainer, but don’t use indoor lights, such as those you might use to decorate your Christmas tree, for your home’s exterior. These lights likely aren’t weather resistant, so just a little rain could cause them to malfunction, creating a serious electrical hazard that could result in damage to your home or even injury to you or your family.

More Tips

Apart from safety, there are a few other things you should keep in mind when it comes to hanging up Christmas lights. For the best display, you should:

  • Check your lights: Inspect your lights for damage or defects before hanging them. Replace any broken bulbs, frayed wires, or damaged sockets – this will save you the frustration of creating the perfect display only to find out it doesn’t light up when you turn it on.
  • Measure and estimate: Measure the areas where you plan to hang lights to estimate the length you’ll need. Remember, it’s better to have a little extra than to fall short!
  • Test your display: Once you have your lights in place, test the entire display to identify any faulty bulbs or address connectivity issues. One or two dull bulbs are hardly an issue, but check that no full strands remain unlit to ensure the best display possible.
  • Set a timer: You can extend the life of your Christmas lights and save on your December energy bill by using a timer. Set the timer to turn your lights on in the evening and off late at night in order to conserve energy.
With the right planning, it’s easy to create a holiday light display that’s sure to spread some Christmas cheer. So, grab a ladder, get into the holiday spirit, and get ready to make your home shine bright!