Ideas for Hanging Outside Vacation Lights

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Tips for Hanging Outdoor Holiday Lights

If you've never decorated the outside of a home before, the prospect of climbing a ladder onto your roof can seem daunting. But with a little strategy and planning, your home could be the shining gem of the block.

You don't have to light all of your property to make a statement. Instead, choose a focal point and let it shine. Maybe it's your front door. Or maybe it's the cherry tree in the front yard. Whichever location you choose, focus your energy (and lightbulbs) there.

"They're going to have a much bigger impact than trying to get them all over the yard," said Benjamin Bradley, star of the Netflix series "Holiday Home Makeover with Mr. Christmas".

Don't underestimate the power of a landscape spotlight that can draw attention to a single element. Mr. Bradley's grandparents had a holly in their garden and every year they would put a large red bow on it and put a spotlight on it. "They knew Christmas was here," he said. "It was nice and easy."

If you are planning to make it big, sketch out your vision ahead of time so that you can purchase all of the lights and garlands you need before climbing the ladder. Find out what power sources you're using – and how the decorations reach those outlets. Do you need extension cords? More surge protection? Get them on time and avoid a hectic last minute trip to the hardware store.

"If we want to have a snowman at the end of the driveway and a Santa Claus in the middle of the driveway, they all need an independent power source," said John DeCosmo, president of the Ulta-Lit Tree Company. That makes a tool to locate broken lightbulbs. Before you buy this giant inflatable reindeer make sure you have an electrical outlet for it.

There are two main types of lamps – LEDs and incandescent lamps. LEDs tend to give off a cooler light, incandescent lamps a warmer one. Choose one option and stick to it, otherwise the contrast between warm and cold light can feel disturbing. (LEDs tend to be more expensive upfront, but use less power over time.)

However, you can mix the styles, sizes, and colors of the light bulbs. "I still love the big multicolored C7 lights, you can see them from afar," said Bradley, who prefers to reserve the miniature lamps for indoor lighting.

Yes, lights are all about the night. But people can still see your house during the day and it shouldn't look like an eyesore. Cut tags from the wires before hanging the lights and decorations. Wrap the lights in a garland to hide the wires. Tuck the extension cord under mulch or evergreen branches. Be neat in your work and keep the wires taut so they don't hang down from the roof lines.

Gravity is not your friend, so be careful on that roof or ladder and always work with a partner who can recognize you. Nobody wants to be "the cowboy who gets up the ladder and does all the work in an hour," DeCosmo said. "And then they are in E.R."

Use surge protectors to prevent your electrical outlets from becoming overloaded. Remember that in the winter elements all of that stuff will be out there. Secure your decorations properly so a gust of wind doesn't land your 12 foot tall snowman in your neighbor's yard.

Take your time, be patient and the end result will be happy and bright.

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