I sometimes think holiday lights were invented to drive me crazy. Last year I put up my hassle-free, artificial tree (yes, I succumbed to the temptation), and true to my private Christmas curse the holiday lights flickered beautifully before dying completely. Never one to admit defeat, I went to buy a whole selection of holiday lights only to discover that strings didn’t light up here and there, others had plugs that didn’t fit, and my large holiday lights got dangerously hot. Okay, it was time to get some expert advice on the ins and outs of decorating with holiday lights. Here’s the wisdom I gleaned on the best holiday lights for decorating your Christmas tree, house and yard.
White Holiday Lights
Strings of small white holiday lights are great for decorating the interior of your tree to keep it illuminated from within. Thread the string of lights as close to the tree stem as possible. This will keep the cord hidden from sight and leave plenty of room for stringing a second layer of decorative holiday lights on the tree.
Cool-Burning Large Holiday Lights
If you string large Christmas lights between your ornaments, you’ll end up with lots of shimmering reflections. Cool-burning large bulbs are safe for decorating even live Christmas trees. String them on your tree before you hang the ornaments so as to slip the cord behind the tree branches and out of sight.
Novelty Holiday Lights
I like to add flickering or flashing Christmas lights to my tree. I only plug them in once the room is fully illuminated, when the on-off succession doesn’t disturb the eye but rather adds to the glamor of the tree.
Holiday Lights Plugs
Trust me, it’s really disappointing to get home with all your beautiful lights and realize that you can’t string the cords together because the plugs are different. Holiday lights come in either stacked plugs or plugs that fit end to end. I prefer stacked plugs because you can fit more than 2 cords together. Typically manufacturer’s recommend no more than a total of 300 lights per total strand length, so this translates to 3 stacked plugs for 100 light stands or 6 stacked plugs for 50 light stands.
Holiday Lights Extension Cords
I once visited a friend that had 5 extension cords connected into one electrical outlet through a surge protector. It’s much safer to use 2 extension cords that can handle larger voltage. At your home improvement store, you’ll find extension cords divided by their voltage and length.
Holiday Lights Compatibility
There’s a reason why Christmas lights tend to burn for some of us more than others, and, no, it’s not a Christmas curse after all. Actually, when you plug holiday lights together make sure that their watts are the same; otherwise higher watt bulbs will cause lower watt bulbs to burn faster.
Holiday Flood Lights
If you already have flood lights in your garden, change the bulbs to subdued Christmas colors like red, green or amber. It’s a cheap way to decorate your home with holiday lights without actually doing any stringing or hard work.
Outdoor Holiday Lights
Both for your house and yard, make sure you buy outdoor holiday lights or lights fashioned for both purposes. Plug the lights using an outdoor extension cord even if it’s bright orange and looks terribly ugly in daylight. You can always spray paint the cord to blend it in with its surroundings, white outdoor paint to blend in with snow, green for lawn, etc.
Outdoor Holiday Light Clips
I used to hang my outdoor holiday lights using those cheap gold hooks that you screw into the eaves. Then, one windy December, I realized that those open hooks aren’t good enough. Instead, I now use gutter clips that you can find at your home improvement store. The clips attach to the gutters and keep the holiday lights tightly in place.
Holiday Lights Test
If you ever want to feel extraordinarily stupid, decorate your Christmas tree without testing your holiday lights first. After the lights fail to come on because the string is damaged (not that I’d know anything about it), you’ll be testing your holiday lights at the store, before you buy them.
For more of my holiday decorating ideas, here’s an easy, last-minute holiday-decorating-craft that increases the shimmering effect of Christmas ornaments. And for your Christmas feast, try these 10 Glittering Christmas-Table-Decorations You Can Make Yourself
Tree Lighting 101