Every year in December, my husband and I climb up to the attic and cart down several boxes of Christmas decorations.  It seems that each year the number of boxes we have to carry down increases. And, yes, like many of you, we have a jumble of Christmas lights of various colors and sizes. Usually, once we get well into the process of untangling this mess, my husband remarks, “We should put lights on the outside of our house.” But by December, with the weather so cold and the snow already piling up, climbing up on a ladder to string lights is not a pleasant or a wise thing to do.

Since the yard chores are finished for the season and the weather is not yet too cold to work outside, why don’t we hang those lights right now? I have done some preliminary research for us. I have sorted through information about hanging lights and found some pretty good how-to instructions to which I hyperlink below.

A snow-covered spruce tree draped in blue lights looks peaceful.

A snow-covered spruce tree draped in blue lights looks peaceful.


If you are skittish about ladders—and you should be because hundreds of people are killed or seriously injured each year in ladder accidents—then you should hire someone to do the task for you.  Call your favorite handyman or ask the lawn care professionals.

First, let’s think a bit about the design.

Some people tack up lights around the perimeter of their roofs. Some outline the windows. Some use big bulbs; some small. I think that in order to get the best light display, we should do a little planning. Having a color scheme in mind is a good first step. Some like the spangled look of multi-colors. All gold or all silver displays can be quite stunning. All blue gives an aura of peacefulness to a snow covered yard-scape.


First-timers should think small.

Light up the bushes next to the driveway or front door for starters. Light up porch railings or columns or a birdbath. Choose what you will decorate before you go outside.


Start by adding lights to a few bushes or step railings.

Start by adding lights to a few bushes or step railings.

Choose the right types of bulbs.

I personally cannot tolerate blinking lights around windows. People sensitive to lighting or prone to migraines may find such displays disturbing and that could put a damper on the holiday fun.

Check that all your lights work before you put them up. I have read that, over time, burned-out bulbs can dim the whole set.

Buy LED bulbs.

Some of the strings of lights from our attic are outdated energy-suckers. The newer LED lights are brighter, last longer, and use a lot less energy. Take time to purchase some new ones.

Decorate only the areas that are readily seen.

Save time, work, and money. You don’t have to decorate the whole house or the backside of bushes.


Check out the many light-hanging options.

Some people use electrical tape and attach their lights onto the roof. Others use special hanging clips or hooks. Clips and hooks are sold in packages or are often part of the outdoor lighting sets. If they are not part of a set, you have to match the type of clip to the size of the bulbs. Mini-lights, draping icicle lights, and multi-sized bulbs all take different sized clips. Some clips and hooks are made to attach to shingles, some to gutters.  One site I found gives a thorough explanation of all the sizes available: http://www.christmaslightsetc.com/pages/Christmas-Light-Clips-Chart.htm. I have not ordered from this company and cannot vouch for their quality or service.

Don’t overdo the lights.

For one, you don’t want to overload the house circuits and, for two, you don’t want to light up the whole block. The featured image at the top of today’s blog has too many lights for my taste. But a five-year-old might beg to differ.

For a step-by-step guide, you might want to follow this site’s directions for hanging: http://www.hometips.com/diy-how-to/install-christmas-lights.html . I chose this site because the writing is clear and the instructions are detailed.


Some people say we can be finished hanging our lights in two hours.

Let me know how long it takes you.