Growing up, a favorite holiday tradition for my family was to drive around the neighborhood at night, drink hot chocolate and ooh and ahh over the homes perfectly studded with lights. Peering out from the minivan window, I imagined we were driving through a magical winter wonderland.
If you’re looking to capture some of your own holiday magic at home, here are 5 steps to light up your home for the holidays.
1. Safety first
It’s the first step because it’s the most important. No one wants to spend precious holiday moments in the ER! Even if you’re a light-hanging pro, always follow proper safety techniques. Use a sturdy ladder and avoid placing lights on trees that come into contact with power lines. Also, check your power source. Diynetwork.com suggests that “your source of power should come from a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. This type of outlet will shut the circuit down if there is overcurrent. We want your lights to shine, not sparks to fly!”
2. Perfect a plan
You could just jump right in, but then there’s a chance you’ll find yourself several hours later, standing in the dark with a half-lit home trying determine if you bought enough strands. Planning ahead doesn’t need to take much effort and can actually save you time. It’s a good idea to take measurements to avoid several trips back to the store. This is also the time to decide where you want (and don’t) want to add lights:
Look at your house critically from the street (or take a photograph) and decide which elements would benefit most from lighting. First, consider highlighting architectural features by stringing lights along eaves, pillars, posts, windows, and doors. Next, look at bushes, trees, window boxes, and planters. Finally, think about appropriate lighting for paths and stand-alone figures. (BobVila.com)
Also, before you begin, check each strand to make sure it works. There’s nothing more frustrating than completing hours of work only to plug in the last string and nothing happens.
3. Pick a type
Once you have a general idea of the vision you want to achieve, determine what type of light(s) will be best for your project. Large bulbs or small? White or multi-colored? Strands or net lighting? Whatever you select (it’s hard to make a wrong choice), opt for waterproof lights made for outdoor use. Also, consider using several shorter strands rather than a few longer ones. This makes for easier replacement if one strand malfunctions.
If lining your roof and windows in lights feels like a daunting task, just focus on a few select focal points in the yard. Wrap tree trucks in lights or hang lighted spheres from the branches. Net lights make holiday outdoor decorating incredibly easy. Simply drape lights over shrubs like a blanket. Or, use small white or blue net lights and hang across the garage for an effortless snow-like effect.
Rather than using a staple gun to string up lights, use clips designed specifically for string lights. The kind you use will depend on the surface (wood, brick, stucco, gutters, etc). Learn more here.
4. Save some green
You may feel like you’re lighting up the entire neighborhood, but your December electric bill doesn’t have to.
- Set a timer on your lights to go on at sun set and turn off once you have gone to bed, rather than burning electricity through the night.
- You may know about LED lights for inside your home, but they make a great holiday addition to your holiday décor outside! Kimberly L. Jackson for the Star-Ledger says that “the conventional, larger C9 bulb requires about 10 watts of power to operate but an LED bulb of the same size uses only one watt.”
- Solar power lights are also a cost-effective option and can be found online or at your nearby home improvement store.
5. Capture the moment
The work is finally done and your yard has transformed into a beautiful winter wonderland. All that’s left is to get the perfect photo for sharing on your favorite social network. Check out these tips for photographing Christmas lights. Or for us camera phone addicts, these tips from Animoto.com will help you get the best shots.
We love seeing how you decorate your home for the holidays (inside and out)! Share your beautiful photos and special moments at home on your personal Lennar Scrapbook. If you don’t have a Scrapbook, create one here. Happy Holidays!