How To: Christmas Lights

The weather outside may be frightful but with a few simple steps you can be cozily ensconced in your home bedecked with colourful strings of Christmas lights during the long winter evenings.

The last two weeks of November signal Christmas light go-time for both DIY homeowners as well as companies that install lights such as Calgary’s Bugaboo Landscaping Ltd.

“Our clients start booking in October but the busiest time for Christmas lights are the last two weeks of November,” said general manager Mary Ann Smith.

Smith explained people are getting more creative with their requests to accentuate their homes with light for the holidays.

“Sparkle wraps on deciduous trees have become very popular,” she said. “This is when the trunk and branches are wrapped tightly with lights all the way to the tips. As well, “candy cane wraps” for houses have become popular; this is when one strand of lights with interchanging red and green bulbs is braided with one strand of white lights and then installed along the house line.”

For those do-it-yourselfer home owners, here’s a few simple steps and tips to make your home merry and bright.

• Firstly, whether you live in an apartment, condo or house it’s important to have a design idea in your head about the Christmas light look you’re wanting to achieve. Do you want to hang them from the eaves? Bedeck your trees? Do you want a variety of colours or a specific palette? Whatever the case, determine roughly how many lights you’ll need and purchase or dig them out of the attic or garage accordingly. It’s also important to note where your outdoor outlets are to maximize your cords. Too many cords and too many plugs can cause electrical shortages.

• The new kid on the Christmas light block the last few years has been light-emitting diode or LED lights. Using about one tenth the energy of traditional incandescent bulbs, LED lights are popular for their low energy usage. Available in a wide variety of colours, the lights don’t fade like traditional lights because of the plastic bulb.

• When using extension cords, ensure your cord is designated for outdoor use. Timers can be purchased to automatically turn lights on or off and saves you from running outside in your bathrobe in sub-zero temperatures to give your home that festive glow. If an extension cord crosses a sidewalk be sure to tape it down for safety. Once your lights are down and packed away there are extension cord organizers available at your local home renovation store.

• It seems to be an age old adage that someone’s dad, grandpa or other random family member will string up an entire set of lights, call the family outside and proudly plug in the cord only to be disappointed when half the lights are burnt out. Always plug your lights in at ground level so you can replace bulbs if need be.

• When hanging lights outside it’s best to use a buddy system: one of you to climb the ladder (it’s important to have a sturdy, dependable ladder) and attach lights, and another to hold the ladder and hand off extra strings of lights and pick up the extra slack so the weight of unattached lights don’t pull the attached one’s off your home.

• There are a variety of light clips available at a variety of stores that can be used to hang your lights with ease. Attach the clips to your home with either a nail or staple gun; this is something you only need to do once and makes hanging lights a lot easier for following years. Clips are also available that slide right onto your eaves trough, pick which clips will be best for the light design you’ve chosen. Space clips roughly 12 inches apart from each other.

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