Choosing Christmas Lights and Tips for Displaying

closeup of outdoor christmas bulbs

Choosing Christmas Lights
Specialty Christmas Lights
How to Hang Outdoor Christmas Lights
Christmas Light Display Tips

Every year we look forward to those evening drives when the neighborhood glows with Christmas lights. Lighting our homes is one way we celebrate the holidays with our neighbors, while also putting a smile on the face of every visitor who stops by.

The first time we hang Christmas lights on our homes, the task seems daunting. Luckily, there are lots of great products on the market to make the process quicker and easier.

Choosing Christmas Lights

There are two main types of Christmas lights on the market, incandescent and LED. Which one we choose has a lot to do with how we plan to use them.

Incandescent lights are the traditional string lights your own parents likely used to decorate your childhood home. They use the same technology as traditional incandescent light bulbs – a filament that emits light when powered by electricity. The downside is, because they use a filament, they also emit a lot of heat. Filaments are also prone to breaking, which is what causes some lights on the string to burn out and on a freezing night in December, most of us aren’t very keen on lugging out the ladder to replace tiny bulbs!

LED lights are a newer technology that has all the benefits of incandescent lights and none of the issues. LEDs last 10x longer and use 10x less power, which is great news for those of us who like a super-bright house! They are a little more costly than incandescents, but because they’ll last years without burning out, they’re worth the investment. A brand we particularly like is Holiday Bright Lights. They’re commercial grade and guaranteed 100% sealed from water to protect against corrosion damage from melting icicles. They also have a 10-year warranty, which means you’ll have bright and beautiful holidays lights for 10 solid holiday seasons.

LED Christmas Lights

Speciality Christmas Lights

When it comes to choosing holiday lighting, we have more options than just the power source. We can get creative with specialty lights that help you achieve a more customized effect with your indoor and outdoor Christmas decor.

Battery-operated lights are a convenient option for areas without easy access to an electrical outlet. You can simply place them where you want them and flip the switch. There are a few caveats with battery-powered lights, however. For one, it can be tricky to hide the battery pack, depending how you’re displaying the lights. Once hidden, it can then be difficult to easily turn the lights on and off if they use a mechanical switch. The other big drawback is that batteries, as we know, must be charged or replaced. Battery-operated lights kept outdoors in cold weather will need to be replaced more frequently, so if you go with battery-operated Christmas lights, they might be better suited to indoor use.

sphere christmas lights

Sphere lights add an ornamental quality to your outdoor lighting. Sphere lights are essentially string lights that have been sculpted into a spherical shape, which you can then hang on outdoor fixtures. These make a big impact when suspended from the trees in your front yard.

Net lighting is exactly as it sounds. Strings of lights have been weaved together to create a net of lights, which can be hung from the roof or blanketed over shrubbery. For homes with hedges in the front, net lighting offers a quick and simple way to light them up.

Novelty lights are fun lights molded into quirky shapes or beloved characters. They can add personality to an indoor or outdoor area. Since these lights tend to be a little more costly than traditional light shapes, they may be best left to an indoor area where guests can get close enough to notice them.

Outdoor Lighted Decor includes everything from lighted inflatables to sculpted illuminated nativity scenes. Adding these to a front yard display guarantees our homes will stand out on the block! There are tons of great options out there to suit any taste. For a memorable display, create a vignette by arranging a few pieces of the same theme together.

novelty christmas lights can be molded into many shapes, such as reindeer and other animals

How to Hang Outdoor Christmas Lights

Before getting started, it’s best to hang the first string of lights loosely on our arms – kind of like a garden hose on the spool – so you don’t get tangled in wires. Hang them up starting at the end with the female plug, and not the male one, so you’ll have the right end to plug in at the end. Once you’ve run out of lights, just spool up the next set on your arm and connect it to the one you just hung and continue to work along the roof.

If you have a ladder, you’ll just need the right clips for your home. We recommend using commercial-grade clips, which are made with a durable plastic that resists freezing a lot better than cheaper, more brittle plastic clips.

If you don’t have a ladder, don’t worry; there’s a great alternative! Use a no ladder hanging kit, which uses a telescopic pole with a special end for applying clips and lights from the ground.

closeup of colorful outdoor christmas lights

Christmas Light Display Tips

Automatic timers help you conserve even more power by setting up the time you want your lights to turn on and off. We like to have ours on starting at sundown and turn them off at 2 AM when folks aren’t awake to see them.

    Choose Christmas light colors that complement your outdoor decorating scheme. You can’t go wrong with classic warm white, or with pure white lights which are neither warm nor cool-toned. One of the most popular colour options is multicolor with alternating hues.

    Decorate trees, shrubs, and railings with coordinating colored lights to pull the whole look together. We like to use the larger LED lights for the roof, with smaller LEDs in the same color for the hedges and front porch railings.

While hanging Christmas lights is a big task, the payoff lasts well into the New Year. Lights put your whole property in the Christmas spirit – and we’re sure they make Santa’s job a whole lot easier!