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The Ultimate Guide to Holiday Lighting

The Ultimate Guide to Holiday Lighting

Posted by Chris Johnson on Oct 20th 2015

You might think Fall is a little early to start worrying about the holiday season - and don't worry, we're not trying to be your weird neighbors with icicle lights on their porch in July. But when it comes to holiday lighting, there's a lot to plan for if you want to get the most out of your efforts, so in the spirit of preparation, it's never too early!

Everybody celebrates the holidays a little differently, so here are some tips for how to make your holiday lighting as special as you are.

1. Plan ahead.

Most people's holiday decorating tradition involves a month of putting it off and suddenly realizing you can (or have to) do it today. But even minimal planning can make all the difference in your decorating. Decide ahead of time - as in, right now - approximately when the deadline for getting your decorations up is, and then make plans to get it done. Make decorating a priority, and you'll actually be able to really enjoy them for the whole season.

Planning is also super helpful when it's time to start hanging lights, because there's not much worse than getting to the end of your last string of lights while on top of a 20-foot ladder - and you only made it across half the house. Do some simple calculations and a bit of research to decide what type of light you need and how much of it.

2. Study up.

If you want your holiday lights to really shine, you need to have a basic understanding of the different types available before you step onto that ladder. Your basic string lights will work for most applications, but how bright do you want them? You might consider bigger bulbs. Do you prefer all-white lights or multi-colored? Icicles? Twinkling stars?

There are also specific applications for certain kinds of lights that will work best. For a Christmas tree, you can go pretty crazy with anything you want (though I myself prefer the classic look of multi-colored string lights). There are all kinds of novelty things to try. If you have thick hedges, you might want to go the easy route and get some net-lights that just lie on top and create a beautiful effect. If you're wanting to light up a banister or column, rope lights are great for winding and they hang on more snugly than string lights. Whatever you want, make sure to study up and pick the right kind of lights for your situation.

3. Ditch the incandescents.

I know you're fond of the Christmas lights you found at a yard sale your sophomore year of college, but don't you get tired of replacing half the bulbs every year and trying to figure out why a third of the strand stops working when you brush the tree? Incandescent lamps are being phased out of the lighting market, and for good reason. They waste a ton of electricity, they burn you when you touch them, and they're as unreliable as they are outdated.

LED holiday lights:

  • Use 90% less energy. Put a little money back in your wallet when the power bill comes around.
  • Last 10 times longer. Avoid the annual trip to the store to replace yet another light string.
  • Are cool to the touch. Cross "Christmas tree fire hazard" off your list of worries for the holiday.

Not only will the bulbs on LED holiday lights last a lot longer, but they will cut costs like crazy on your energy bill. You can also safely use a lot more of them in one circuit because they use so few watts. When you add the savings of not having to replace bulbs every year, you will end up saving more money than you'll spend to make the upgrade in the first place. Now that's what I call a Christmas miracle!

4. Don't be afraid to try something new.

Who ever said holiday lighting has to be string lights, string lights and more string lights? Get creative with your decorating, both inside and outside. You can use accent lighting to highlight pretty seasonal decor around your house, like a mantelpiece or a row of stockings. Try focusing some up lights on that tree in your front yard that looks like a fairy castle when it grows icicles. If you already have some thick evergreen shrubs or trees in your yard, don't bother with inflatables - decorate those! Use some landscape lighting behind the bushes along your driveway to give them a warm, jolly glow. Don't let yourself feel constrained by traditional holiday decorating - it's ultimately about what you like!

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