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How to Hang Christmas Lights

Hanging Christmas lights on your home can be a daunting, tricky, and dangerous task. To begin with you probably have to use a ladder; not to mention all the untangling of light strings and checking to see if everything works properly.

Gather Your Tools

Before you begin to hang the lights you should first decide what tools you will need. You will likely need: a hammer; nails, clips or other fastening devices; a tape measure; and a ladder. You should also first locate the outlet(s) that you will be plugging the Christmas lights into so you can determine the number and length of any extension cords you may need.

Check Your Lights

There is nothing worse than spending a day stringing Christmas lights only to find out some of the lights don't work. Take a few minutes and check all your lights for proper functioning before you climb up the ladder. It will save you a lot of frustration and headaches later.

Determine Your Layout

Before you start figure out how you are going to install the lights. For example, if you are installing lights along your roof line you will need to consider the length of light strands you will need, the number of clips or fastening devices you will need, where to drop lines for any power connections, and how to deal with any obstacles such as corners, dormers or other architectural features of your home.

Using another example, if you are lighting an outdoor tree you will need to determine if you will string the Christmas lights vertically or wrap them horizontally. Most importantly, you need to estimate how many strings you will need based on your desired light coverage. We have a Christmas light calculator here to help you figure this out. Finally, make sure you determine in advance where your last string will end. You don't want to end up with the power receptacle at the top of a 30 foot tree with no way to plug it in.

Position the Ladder-Safety First

Once you have all your tools gathered, have checked the lights and have determined your layout it is almost time to get on that ladder. Before you approach the ladder, make sure it reaches to the height you need and can be placed on sturdy or solid footing. Also make sure to wear non-slip shoes or boots in case the weather is a bit wet.

Time to Hang the Lights

The most basic way to hang Christmas light strings is by using a hammer and nail. This method is simple but can be time consuming. In addition, not all exteriors of homes are nail friendly, particularly vinyl siding. In addition, using nails can also damage your Christmas lights if you are not careful. However, if you choose to use nails first determine how far apart you want to place the nails. If you are using larger, heavy bulbs such as a C7 or C9 bulb you will want to put the nails closer together--no less than 12 inches. I think it is easier to mark where you will place the nails and install the nails first and then attach the lights. With the nails in place you can wrap the light string around each nail securing the lights to your home.

If you would prefer not to use nails there are many other fastening options to choose from. The installation procedure described above can still be followed. You will just be using an alternate fastening device rather than nails. Some common examples are screwing hooks in to the overhanging eves or using specialty lighting clips. I also found this product while doing some research for this article, This product, call the Screw Up allows you to avoid ladders all together. It is a drill bit that is meant to hold “screw hooks.” The bit can either be used on a telescoping pole or directly with a drill or screw driver. The hook can be screwed in directly without making starter holes. After the hooks are in place, simply place the string through the hook and continue until all lights are up. We haven't tried this product ourselves but it seems to be a good idea.

All of the fasteners mentioned above will work but the best option is to use fabricated Christmas light clips or hooks. These hooks and clips come in a variety of different styles for different kinds of lights. The two most popular for homes are the “gutter clip” and the “shingle clip”. These two clips can be fastened either to the gutter of the home or slid underneath the shingles of the roof. These clips are relatively inexpensive and easy to use and find.

There is one other option: pay someone else to do it. There are several companies emerging that offer to install as well as store your Christmas lights and other holiday decorations. Prices vary by region and state, as well as products and services offered. If you are looking for an installer in Michigan try Light Visions.