Christmas lights are so inherently magical that it is hard to imagine the holidays without the cozy glow they cast. That’s not to say you haven’t considered skipping out on this festive adornment, though, because let’s be honest — putting up Christmas lights can be a beast.
When I think of Christmas lights, I always think of the cult classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Clark Griswold’s hilarious attempts to be the brightest house on the block during the holidays.
It’s pretty clear Clark didn’t have the secret to success where hanging holiday lights is concerned, but there is a way to properly put up Christmas lights that ensures you get the glow you’re going for — and don’t injure yourself or alienate the neighbors before, during or after the process.
Get yourself some light clips
No, seriously. If you walk away having learned only one thing from this article, let it be this — it will make your holiday-light-hanging life immensely easier. Once you have Christmas light clips in place in your home, hanging lights on everything from your roof to your garage door is a breeze. Plus, it gives your lights a more uniform and professional appearance.
Don’t wait until it’s freezing outside
While it may seem a tad premature to hang Christmas lights when the weather is still mild, it sure beats waiting until it’s frigid outside. Your fingers will feel so numb that you’ll fumble with the light strands and, what’s worse, you could even run the risk of serious injury if it gets icy out. If you just can’t bring yourself to hang the lights themselves early, you can at least get your hooks in place.
Check your lights before you hang them
This is one of those things you would think was common sense… yet we’re all guilty at some point of getting a ton of Christmas lights strung before we realize they don’t work or there are a few bad bulbs in the batch. Instead, check the lights as soon as you pull them out of storage and again right before you begin putting them up. As they say, it’s better to work smarter, not harder.
Measure, measure, measure
Professionals never skip this step! Using a long measuring tape, measure the base of your house (along the ground), being sure to measure around any doors, windows and columns you plan to light as well. This way — after you’ve located our power sources — you can do the math and know beforehand what lengths of string lights you need.
Remember how we were talking about National Lampoon’s? Well, you’re going to want to calculate wattage if you don’t want a Clark Griswold-esque fuse blow-out. It sounds complicated, but the formula is actually pretty simple. Just multiply the wattage of the bulb by the number of sockets to get the total watts in a string light, then divide that number by 120 (volts). This will give you the total amps, which you can use to determine maximum watt capacity.
Start with eaves or gutters
Not sure where to begin? A good rule of thumb is to use the first light from the male end of a light strand on the corner of your eave closest to an electrical outlet. From there, take that strand and — keeping it taut — continue extending it around the exterior of the house. Secure it at regular intervals using (you guessed it!) light clips.
Move onto trim
Once the bulk of the lights have been hung along eaves or gutters, you can assess if your calculations were correct. If they were, you should have enough light strands left to cover the door and window trim. If they were off, this puts you at a good stopping point to go pick up more lights and resume later. Again, light clips are going to be key here when it comes to hanging the lights.
Keep stringing as you see fit
At this point, you’ve got your traditional holiday lighting strung. Where you go from here is up to you! If you’re aiming for a classic look, consider white lights on just the house and large trees or shrubs. But if you want to go all out Clark Griswold style, grab the multicolored lights and motion-activated roof reindeer and go wild. Because when all is said and done, the right way to put up Christmas lights is whatever way fills your heart with the most holiday spirit.
This post was sponsored by Big Lots.