The Do's & Don'ts of Holiday Lights

The Do's & Don'ts of Holiday Lights

Taryn Williford
Dec 4, 2012

I don't understand people who say Christmas lights put them in a good mood. They obviously must be paying somebody else to do their light purchasing, stringing, and storing—because holiday lights are a major headache. But you can make the whole process a little bit easier if you keep a few of these easy tips in mind.

DON'T buy too many or too few lights. Plan ahead and get only what you need. If you have floorplans or blueprints of your home, use those measurements as a guide for how many feet of light string you will need outside. Inside on the tree, a good rule of thumb is 100 to 150 lights per vertical foot.

DO be a good neighbor. This guide to holiday light etiquette includes a few tips on keeping peace with your Christmas lights in a lit-up neighborhood this holiday season.

DON'T have an unpacking accident. When you're getting the old outdoor lights out of storage, watch out for broken bulbs with sharp edges and replace them right away.

DO get creative with DIY. Want to jazz up your boring light string? Get crafty! Use ping pong balls to get a globular glow, or use cupcake liners to turn your light string into a flowering vine.

DON'T overwork your extension cord. Splurge on heavy-duty extension cords (Gizmodo reccomends a 16-gauge cord for 25 feet or less, or 14-gauge for more than 25 feet) that are listed for outdoor use (they usually have a "W" on the package). To avoid overloading, only link five strings of lights together before plugging into an extension cord.

DON'T get caught off guard by high bills. Lighting up your home like Las Vegas doesn't come cheap. Use an energy cost calculator to estimate the extra cash you'll be shelling out in utility bills to fund your festive display.

DO go for energy-efficient lights. LED lights last longer, shine brighter and use less energy than traditional bulb strings. Solar-powered Christmas lights cost a bit more, but they have no wires to attach and they automatically turn on at night and off at dawn.

DON'T leave your lights on around the clock. You can cut your holiday power use even further with light timers. Have lights come on at dusk, and shut off in the early morning hours, after your family and any light-gazers have settled for the night.

DON'T leave your lights out too long after the holidays. Sun, wind, rain, and snow all take their toll on Christmas lights. The longer you leave them up after Christmas, the sooner you'll have to replace them.

DO store your light strings in a dark place when the holidays are over. Red, green, blue and purple lights, especially, will lose their color due to fading.

DO keep light strings untangled when not in use. The coffee can trick from Danny Seo is great for this, and will save your future self from headaches dealing with tangles when the holiday season rolls around again next year.

(Images: Shutterstock, AdvancedMischief/Instructables, EcoGeekLiving, Danny Seo)

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