Outdoor Holiday Lighting Tips

Whatever style of outdoor holiday lighting you choose, installing it can be a snap.


Greet your guests with seasonal style by adding lights to your front entry. Getting a strand of outdoor lights evenly-spaced and facing the same direction used to be quite an accomplishment. As much as outdoor lights are a beauty to behold, they can be a beast to install -- and you're trying to tame this unwieldy tangle on a chilly December day.

A little Yankee ingenuity has come to the rescue. New styles of clips that attach to the gutter, inside the doorway or along the walkway make it easier to space bulbs evenly and allow you to easily direct the lights.

Made of a sturdy plastic, the clips snap in place with ease. And the clips come in a styles suited for standard or miniature lights. You'll find them just about everywhere -- from home centers to grocery stores.

Light the path to your door with a strand of clear holiday lights. Simply push the plastic stakes into the ground, slip in the lights and close the plastic hinges to hold the lights in place. Swish some snow or moss between the lights to cover the exposed cord.

 

If the ground is frozen, use an old screwdriver and a hammer to create a starter hole. And plan on leaving the stakes in the ground until spring even if you pull the lights out after the holidays.

Before you head outdoors to string lights, be sure to do the following:

Enlarge Image Buy lights with the same kind of plug, either stacked (like the white plugs above) or end-to-end (like the green plugs).
  • Do the math. Measure the distance to cover, and figure out how many lights and clips are needed. Chances are the length of the strands won't match the total length required and you'll need to do some adjusting. For a brighter display, place clips closer together, or run two alternating strands.
  • Measure carefully. If you're using special spacing between lights, cut a piece of cardboard or a strip of wood to the exact length. Use it to measure the space between clips.
  • Test your lights. Plug in each strand ahead of time to be sure each bulb lights up and that the sockets and cords are solid. Replace strands that have brittle cords or cracked or loose sockets.
  • Check the connections between strands to be sure they are compatible and the extension cord easily reaches the plug. Check the manufacturer's recommendations for the maximum number of strands to connect to each other. You may need to use a second extension cord.

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