Stringing Up The Lights
One of my favorite Holiday Traditions is to fill a couple of thermos bottles with hot cocoa, load the kids in the car, and drive around on a couple of evenings during the season, looking at Christmas lights. I am not sure how many people are actually coming into my neighborhood to see my lights, but hanging them is another of my favorite Holiday activities.
We won’t be discussing the best light design for your house, or the “best” way to do your Christmas lights; Every house is different, and so are everyone’s artistic tastes. Hanging Christmas lights really is an artistic endeavor, and kind of like grade school finger-painting, enjoying the process is almost as important as the results. I will be discussing how I like to do mine, and perhaps you can pick up a few tips that will help you with your display.
I get as upset as anyone when the stores start marketing the Christmas sales before Halloween, but I do spend a few hours before it gets cold considering my light display. I have a self imposed rule that the first strand will not go up until after I have had my first left-over-turkey sandwich on Thanksgiving, but there is usually something lit that night. In my part of the country it is beginning to get cold by Thanksgiving, so I like to put up my display in stages.
Usually the first thing to go up is a line of multi-colored C-9 “Retro” lights along the fascia in the front of the house. I am still using the old incandescent bulbs, even though they are fragile and inefficient. I just like them. But I will probably be replacing them in the next couple years with LED retro bulbs.
LED lights have a number of advantages. They are supposed to be very durable and long lasting. I will have to get back to you in a few years on whether that is true; I hope it is because LEDs are expensive! The most attractive thing about LEDs is their low power consumption. Not only are they cheap to burn, but you can string together up to a quarter mile of light strings with out straining your electrical system! They are rare, but fires from Christmas light displays do happen, so keep safety in mind.
Determine where the best power source is for your light display. Many prefer an exterior socket that is controlled by an interior switch. Personally I prefer to keep my lights on a timer. This means they will come on every night and every morning (I like to think that the kids waiting for the school bus enjoy them) and I will not forget to turn them off before bed. My current display requires several different extension cords, so I have an outdoor rated power strip that I can plug as many as 6 cords into.
In addition to multi-colored lights along the roof-line, I outline my front doors, windows and posts with white mini-lights. The first year I did this, I used a staple gun to attach the light strings, but I have since installed a combination of light nails and brass cup hooks. These are small enough to be unnoticeable the rest of the year, but very handy for the lights. And I don’t have to go along with a pair of needle nose pliers to pluck out the old staples.
The bushes and trees in the front yard also get light treatment, the large oak tree is big enough that it gets a pair of green net-lights wrapped around the trunk, while a string of green lights goes around the smaller peach tree trunk. The crown of each tree is lit by multicolored mini lights in a some what random design the random design works well and gives a natural look to the tree tops. I have found it easier to hang the strands with a hook on the end of a pole rather than moving a ladder around. There is no sense in ruining your holidays by injuring yourself falling off a ladder!