Whether you’re looking to have yourself a small little holiday display or shamelessly trying to keep up with the Griswolds, there’s no doubt a well-planned light display is a mainstay of the season. Holiday lights represent all that is jolly and bright.
Our ancestors, and some places in Europe use candles to light up Christmas trees–yikes! As you can imagine, fires started easily and often, with homeowners having buckets of water on hand to help battle a sudden blaze.
The beginning of electricity saved many a tree and fewer and fewer Christmases went up in smoke. We have Edward H. Johnson to thank for that. In 1882, Johnson—an associate of Thomas Edison—dressed up the first known electrically-illuminated Christmas tree with 80 custom made walnut-sized incandescent bulbs in red, white and blue. His look caught on and by 1900, businesses were dressing their window displays with the colours of the holiday. Lights became affordable and commercially available for households in the 1930’s.
To help you on your merry way, here are some tips and tricks for planning the perfect display, ways to save money on your energy bill and holiday light safety 101.
Tips And Trends In Holiday Light Displays
Fail to plan, plan to fail. One of the most important things to remember when thinking about a holiday light display of epic or average proportions is creating a master plan. Make sure to have a good idea of the look you want to achieve before you start decorating to avoid disappointment. This is where that high school math may come in handy; measure twice, cut once. Take some time to calculate how many light strings you’ll need and what accessories you need to pull it off–this will save you multiple trips to the stores during high season. Don’t forget key accessories like light clips, extension cords and timers.
Smaller And Brighter Is Key
Energy efficient LED lights are gaining popularity as consumers look for bulbs and cords that nestle seamlessly into structures, trees and holiday wreaths or lawn ornaments. You can also find battery-operated options, perfect for lawn displays or hard-to-reach corners.
If possible use LED lights over incandescent. The disadvantage with incandescents is you end up paying more in electricity costs. Incandescents are inefficient since 90% of the energy goes toward heat and only 10% toward the actual light. Using about 1/10 the wattage of incandescents and lasting up to 10-times longer, a display of LED lights will help you save on your energy bill for the season and last years with proper care and storage.
Be Smart About It
There has been a shift towards smart home and customized light shows. People want a custom light show and they want to show it off in a big way. Make use of your current infrastructure by integrating your display with your smart home technology.
Impress the neighbours by setting the flicker pace to a classic holiday tune, or changing the colour scheme on demand. You can have the flexibility to match your lights to your house design and colour scheme while being able to use lights for multiple occasions.
Choosing Your Holiday Light Style
The great thing about creating your own holiday light extravaganza is the ability to entirely switch it up the following year with little cost. That being said, it’s important to know your options before heading into your local hardware store and becoming mesmerized by all the pretty lights—just like you should never go to the grocery store on an empty stomach. Here are a few options to consider:
- Turn your outdoor holiday display into a winter wonderland with icicle or snowflake-shaped lights.
- LED projection spotlights require no installation, are a timesaving alternative to traditional string lights and are available in a wide variety of colours and patterns. For a small price, you can fill your entire house with colour-changing starfields or amazing animations and effects. Or use rope lights which are typically much brighter than regular lights and create a very futuristic look, perfect for outlining doorways, windows, trees and walkways.
- If you’re after a timeless look, think about investing in a variety of string lights in hues of white and incorporating subtle pops of colour like blue, green or red. You can find a variety of options including strings with large bulbs, mini lights or nets.
- If you’re looking to get the kids excited about decorating for the holidays, consider a lawn inflatable or two.
Tip: Not all white string lights are created equal. There are noticeable variances in the temperature of the glow, some are cooler and give off a blue-ish tint while others may be a warmer yellow.
Tips For Installing Holiday Lights
Now that you’ve created your master plan, it’s time to deck the halls. There are a few things to remember when installing holiday lights in the name of safety and sanity. First and foremost, check your lights. Make sure there are no exposed wires or broken sockets and test each string to ensure the lights are all working and replace any bulbs that have burned out.
Check your surroundings, make sure you know where your kids and pets are at all times. You’ll likely be scaling a ladder and tools may fall in the process.
If you’re connecting strings of lights together, avoid connecting more than five or six strands end to end and overloading the circuit. Always avoid pulling the strands too tight in order to reach an outlet.
Practice good etiquette when deciding on the placement of your holiday lights and decorations. Make sure your decorations are not blocking sightlines for drivers or neighbours to the street. If using music or sound effects consider only turning it on during evening hours, but going silent by 8 or 9 p.m.
Use the right gear when attaching lights to your home’s exterior. There are a variety of light clips and hooks to be found at your local hardware retailer that are suitable for attaching lights to your eavesthroughing or shingles.
Finally, take your lights down and store them properly once the season is over. The exposure to harsh weather over a period of time can cause damage to the wires, lights and sockets. Plus, your neighbours won’t be too pleased.
Tip: To store holiday lights, wrap them around a piece of cardboard and then wrap tissue paper around the lights to protect them and keep them dry.
So start decorating and installing your holiday lights.
Have a Happy Holiday Season!
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