Outdoor Christmas lighting is one of the great joys of the season. I look forward to it almost as much as the tree itself. People have definite opinions on the subject. Colored lights or all-white lights. Big bulbs, cascades, or small twinkle lights. The choices are endless. Regardless of your personal tastes, there are a few things to keep in mind when setting up your Christmas display.
When planning your display, sit down and think about the number of strings you would like to use. Draw a rough sketch of where you would like to place the lights. Mark where your outlets are. This will help you visualize the placement of cords, wiring, and extra outlets. This planning ahead will save you frustration later when fuses blow or when lights have no plug.
Once you have your display thought out, count outlets and cords. Most people do not have houses that have enough outdoor plugs. You will need outdoor cords to run from the front Christmas light display to outlets on the side or back of the house. You can find outdoor power cords, power strips, and stake outlets. These are great because they can be moved where they are needed. A single outlet can hold about 3 -4 strings of lights, plugged end to end. That, of course, depends on the size of the strings, the size of the lights, and the kind of lights being used. The new LED lights are different. Make sure you have enough cords, strips, and outlets to go with your lights before you start. Make sure your outlets are grounded.
Check your lights. Before you start hanging, plug in your lights to make sure they work. Replace any bulbs or fuses now. It’s a lot easier to do before they are in the house. Make sure you use outdoor lights. Most lights are marked “indoor/outdoor.” Therefore they can be used inside and outside. You can not use indoor-only lights outside. It is a massive safety risk.
Have a buddy. When hanging the lights, especially if you are using a ladder, have a friend there who can help. Whenever you use a ladder, someone needs to be there to hold the ladder steady. It also makes it easier and faster to have 2 people hanging lights. I’ve been hanging lights with my husband for 10 years. We get accomplished in hours, which would take me an entire weekend. Besides, if you fall, they can call 911. Always use safe practices when dealing with ladders and electricity. Safety first! If hanging lights on a tall tree, use a pool broom with an expandable handle. These can add over 4 feet to your height without the need for a ladder.
When laying out the electrical cords, keep walkways clear. It is easy to trip over cords at night, especially for the elderly. If cords must go thru walkways, tape them down securely. Also, mark the area so people can see the tape. It is best to have cords running along the walkway, not across. People can easily trip and get hurt. Also, keep cords out of low-lying areas that may hold water. Even outdoor cords need to be kept out of standing water.
Watch out for pets. If you have outdoor pets, be careful where you place the lights. Lights on fences can be too much of a temptation for pets. Dogs jumping on the fence can become tangled in the light cords. Curious dogs can get injured from licking or chewing on the lights.
Outdoor Christmas displays are beautiful at night. Kids and adults love them. When hanging your display, always use proper outdoor lighting and cords. Follow safety procedures when dealing with outlets and electricity. Safety should be your first priority.