The past couple of months have been unseasonably warm — a total coup for my family. It’s given me not only more time to play outside with my kids but more leeway to wrap up some of those last-remaining outdoor projects.
My husband, on the other hand, had a different idea: stringing Christmas lights.
I was resistant. At the time, Thanksgiving wasn’t even over yet. But he had a point. Why not get it done while the weather was still warm.
If you were like my husband, you’ve already decked your house. If not, I thought I should offer a few tips for getting those lights up:
- Check those lights — and check them twice. This may sound pretty obvious, but plug in each strand of lights before hanging them. After all, how many of you have hung your lights only to find a string or two dead? Talk about having to do things twice. To make this job a bit easier, consider picking up a Christmas light tester. You can find it in stores and online. We got ours off of Amazon, but most big box chains stock the tester in the holiday section of their stores.
- Dust off your trusty tape measure. Because I’m of the work-smarter-not-harder mentality, I suggest taking a tape measure and measuring the actual length of where you plan on stringing your Christmas lights. This is especially important when you’re going out to buy new lights — never a year goes by when you don’t have to buy a few strands, right? And the last thing you want is to string up lights only to find you’re 3 feet short.
- Make a decoration plan. Most people come up with a mental idea of how they want to decorate their homes. This is wise for two reasons: to make sure you’ve got enough lights on hand and to make decorating a bit more efficient. Some areas where we like to string lights often include the roofline and eaves and around the windows and doorframes. We also wrap trees and bushes. You may also want wrap pillars, posts, and deck railings, as well as near the driveway or pathway to your home.
- Invest in a timer. Our home has a detached garage. And because this is where we plug in our lights, we’d just leave them on all night. Seeing that our lights weren’t LED, we took quite a hit on our electric bill. Not last year, we bought a timer — and we even got one with a remote. And because we did not use LED lights, we started seeing an impact on our electric bill. We can turn them on and off from the inside of the house. Work smarter, not harder!
- Stay safe. Always take every precaution when hanging your lights. Make sure the lights are certified for outdoor use and that they’re connected to a grounded outlet, like one with a built-in fuse. Use a sturdy ladder to hang lights and stay away from anything that could pierce the cord, like nails or staples. Plastic clips are your best bet. And of course, make sure you use safe extension cords.
That’s pretty much it. You can flip the switch, stand back, and admire your work — over a mug of eggnog, no less. You’ve earned it!