Outdoor holiday light hacks to get you inspired to decorate!

How does time fly so fast? It is once again the holidays! How can that be? While you may be hem-hawing about whether or not to put up those outdoor holiday lights, let me just share a little story that might get you on the holiday bandwagon and a little in the spirit!

Last year as I was shoveling snow, (mind you, it was January 15th), an older woman walked by and said to me, “I sure love looking at your lights. They give me joy, and they give me hope every time I walk by.” Well, needless to say, I am forever inspired to put up those pesky lights up early and take them down later and later. While they may be a pain in the neck to hang and take down each year, they might just be the “light” (pun intended) a person needs this time of year (and especially in 2020). 

Here are some time-saving tips and headache-minimizing hacks to help!

1. Wear a utility belt so you can safely carry all the handy tools and gadgets you need up and down the ladder. 

  • Zip ties
  • Extra clips/hooks
  • Duct tape (always have duct tape)

2. Create a light hanging pole with a long broom handle and an open, light weight vise-grip. Using duct tape, attach the vise-grip to the pole to help lift the lights onto hard to reach hooks. Or, if you would rather, check out this super cool $8, “No Ladder Utility Hook” attachment from Etsy! 

3. Use a paint ladder. They are much easier to use, as well as safer and easier to move around.

4. Purchase LED lights. Yes, they are more expensive in the beginning, but they will actually save you money in the long-run because they are more energy efficient and will last longer (therefore saving you time, too)!

5. Hang your outdoor lights in the same place from year to year. It doesn’t mean you have to keep your lights the same, you can switch out the white lights for snowflake lights, the icicle lights, to the big old fashioned colorful bulbs whenever that fancy strikes you.

6. Measure twice, cut once… okay, no cutting with your lights, but make sure you measure the area twice. There is nothing worse than running out of lights and having to go get more. 

7. There are some great hooks and clips for every type of house and gutter. Find the ones that will work best for your home. Be prepared to buy a few choices, try them out, and return the ones that don’t work for you and your home. Even if you have a brick home, there are some choices. Here is a great guide that will help you to find the right light-hanging thing-a-ma-bobs to hang your lights easily from year to year. (Make sure that they are plastic as you don’t want to attach electric lights to metal hooks.)

8. Use one outlet and add a timer. You don’t want to be turning them on every night and forgetting to turn them off when you go to bed. Instead, invest in a timer that will save you time and money. There are also Smart outlets that can be controlled with your device. 

9. Would you consider a bulb tester? If you hate throwing out perfectly good strands of lights because of one bulb, try this little gadget that tests the lights individually. (I love the idea, but I can’t personally attest to its effectiveness.) Please comment and let us know if it is a bust or a BUY

10. Save a lot of money in the long-run with these solar powered holiday lights!

11. I got this great hack from a long-time friend. Hang your lights from hangers at the end of the year so next year’s installation is easy-peezy. Attach one end of the lights to the hook and then wrap! 

Safety is the most important consideration with outdoor holiday lighting. Here are some tips for keeping you and your home safe.

  • Make sure that all the lights, extension cords, and the timer are outdoor-rated! You don’t want to use one’s that aren’t approved for outdoor usage. 
  • Don’t be tempted to use old lights that have some wear and tear. These could lead to fires, etc… Just recycle them if you can! 
  • Ensure that there isn’t anything flammable near and around the lights and outlets. Keep dry branches, grasses, etc… trimmed far away from outlets and lights.
  • Your outdoor outlets need to be weather-proofed so that they don’t get moisture running down into them. 
  • Your outdoor outlets also should have a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) to protect your home’s electrical and prevent fires.
  • As with your indoor lights, don’t attach too many strings of lights together. If you have LED lights you can extend that amount. Here is a good lighting guide to keep it safe!
  • Over 1000 people a year are rushed to the hospital from falls due to hanging holiday lights. If possible, have someone help you hold your ladder (it is the safest bet). And, don’t over reach as that is the #1 cause of falls. 

If you are in the Ebeneezer Scrooge frame of mind currently, we hope that you can soon change that to a Clark Griswold mentality (maybe not that extreme)! While thoughts of hanging outdoor lighting might not get you in the mood, once it is done you will be able to drink some eggnog and enjoy its splendor of your home! You might even feel your heart lighten and grow like The Grinch, and you can be confident that it will likely light the hearts of others. 

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