After the Halloween costumes have been stowed and those last scraps of Thanksgiving turkey and dressing have been consumed (or tofu for vegetarians!), it’s a neighborhood race to get the outside Christmas lights up.
Dressing up the house and yard are as traditional as surprising someone with that unusual Christmas present!
Incandescent or LED Christmas Light Strings?
When considering commercial Christmas lights or the residential variety, there are choices. LED bulbs (Light Emitting Diode) are becoming more popular each holiday season. Why? For one thing, they last much longer than traditional standard size or mini bulbs.
In fact, most industry sources say that color strings of LED C6 mini lights have an average life of 100,000 hours, while white strings last 60,000 hours.
LED’s are also better from a green energy standpoint. They use 80 to 90 percent less power than their incandescent cousins.
Planning the Exterior Lighting Display
Planning is everything in every DIY project, and holiday planning is no different. The first thing to do is formulate a game plan. Is the Christmas lighting display just running along the soffit? Is a Christmas tree design on the drawing board? Will the display be made up of chasing, solid, or blinking bulbs?
Once this design phase is complete, it’s time to estimate how many feet of lighting strings or rope are needed. Draw a rough sketch of the home, measure the dimensions of the areas to be decorated with a tape measure, and mark the numbers on the sketch.
With the numbers complete, add about 8 percent to allow for unexpected factors.
Shop Early in the Christmas Season
Seasonal decorations go fast as soon as the weather cools and vendors are careful to stock only what they expect to sell – no surplus inventory! So shop early to get a good selection and avoid the crazy late shoppers.
For example, several years ago, those icicle light strings burst onto the scene and homeowners were virtually fighting over them. Be sure the package is marked “For Exterior Use” or something similar.
How to Hang Light Strings
Have a ladder and a helper on hand. An 8 foot stepladder will do for a one story home but anything higher calls for an extension ladder. Make sure the assistant keeps a firm hand on the ladder to stabilize it.
Does the home have rain gutters? If so, plastic light clips are a great way to hang the strings. If the lights are to be secured to a wood soffit or fascia board, cup hooks may be used. They are usually not noticeable so they can be left up after the new year to be used in the future.