So yes I’m that person in the neighborhood that tends to go a little overboard. Not completely but my light display gets aggressive. Last December in New England we had some unseasonably warm weather and many people got on the aggressive Christmas light train. As someone who has been building displays since I was 10 I really enjoyed how many people had lights up through February. As once Christmas was over a cold snap moved in. Amateur move kids. So I want to share my tips on how to do lights and not lose your darn mind.
- If your going big, do it for kids you don’t know and don’t forget yourself. My Dad and I always did big light displays, ya know a million plastic characters, Santa on the roof, hanging off the roof of our RV to get those roof lights perfect, the works! Then one year we went to Florida. Downscaled the lights and set timers. The next year a knock at my door brings a total stranger who told me she was so thankful we were still there, they thought we moved and it was her tradition to bring her sons by every year. I went back and decorated my dads house into my early 20’s just because of that.
- Summary a. Never be afraid to knock on someone’s door and say I love your lights even if they aren’t ABC holiday contest worthy nuts.
- Untangling lights. Shake Shake shake. Thats my pro tip. These aren’t light bulbs they won’t break by shacking them but its the easiest way. Find an end unstick it a little shake the string then untangle the few sticky ones and shake some more. Do this inside ahead of time if you can. Would you do a jigsaw puzzle freezing to death in the snow? Probably not. Don’t torture yourself be warm have some wine and good luck!
- Decorate your backyard. Most houses are positioned to look out on your backyard not your front. I always put lights at the least on my back deck and maybe a light up tree. I work hard, I love lights I want to make sure I can enjoy my hard work as much as people driving by. Great things about decks they are super easy to light.
- Summary b. Don’t forget to place lights where you can view them from inside your home, take time for you.
- Timing is everything! That being said Its usually warmer in November than in January. Its going to be better weather when you put your display up then when you take it down and take that into account. I’ve learned to fret less about organizing my lights putting them away because guess what no matter what you do they will get tangled, you will have to sort them. You might be saying oh no Anne I have a special wheel, box ect. Yup been there and then you realize you wrapped em up with the wrong plug, the string in the middle broke etc. And you will be very very cold during clean up. Do the best you can toss em in a bin and wait for next year. And watch the weather after Christmas. My display stays up until January first. But if I see a warm day January 28th I run outside and work as fast as possible. Don’t hesitate you will generally just get one.
- Summary c. Don’t hesitate if you see an unseasonably warm day even it its outside your timeline to get to work.
- Have kids? this is a great learning experience for them. Kids love Christmas and lights! I always helped my dad pull the lights out in November we’d start slowly here and there checking the bulbs, repairing the wires in our basement. It meant the weekend after Thanksgiving we are ready to go and I learned ways to removed broken glass bulbs, change fuses and repair wires safely.
- Summary d. Christmas lights makes great STEM activities.
- Securing your lights .Those plastic clips drive me nuts. Don’t get me wrong gutters, shingles go to town but for the rest try a few of these.
- Zip ties! They are cheap, they work everywhere and they come in all different colors. When you feel the urge to wrap your lights around that deck railing just add a second string and zip tie. You’ll thank me when it feels like -20 and you are snipping your lights down in two seconds with a mini razor knife.
- Staple gun! Better if you have an older home, wood trim and a forgiving spouse. Just make sure to line your wires up with the staples and your good. Best part is the end of the season you can just give a good tug and your light are free.
- Lawn stakes. Get yourself a giant bag of camping tent stakes, a mallet and a nice big roll of rope. Your decor will come with these awful little metal ones and then your 3 year old is crying as frosty is hung up in the neighbors tree. Tie things down more than you think you should.
- I hate ladders do you? My house is talllllll. And my ladder days are over. Solution to house lights when you can’t get that tree line you two. One is outline your windows with lights this is a pro move work up to this one and pre lit wreaths. Battery powered wreaths over each window and bam you have that glowing cool house all the kids want.
- 3M hooks. These are my JAMMMMMMM. They aren’t generally my primary way of securing rights but more for clean up. Making sure they stay uniformly around where every I’m stringing them, support an area where there aren’t any other secure options etc.
- Snow snow snow every where, is really water and water and electronics typically very very bad. There are million products for this one, but amazon sells mini rubber gaskets pop one on each plug and bam water sealed. There are also these big plastic waterproof tubes you can buy but they can get pricey. I would avoid taping connections it rarely works and if a string dies you will have serious regrets.
Thats what I’ve got for now! Good look and let me know how you simplify your holiday light display.
p.s. I know we didn’t cover blow ups if you are down with the blow ups this post probably not your jam but if you need tips comment below.