As I write this, Christmas is only a few weeks away away now and if, like us, you approach the seasonal holiday with excitement and enthusiasm, especially with the prospect of some time off work (!), then what better way to share that with the neighbours than putting on a great display of outdoor xmas lights?
Christmas outdoor decorating can be a fun time for the whole family, but there’s a right way and wrong way to install outdoor lighting, and there’s certainly a fine line between putting on a good show, and just being distasteful and vulgar.
Christmas in general is a happy occasion to be enjoyed by everyone: parents, Grandparents, long-lost aunties, and of course children too, in fact where would we be at Xmas time without the look of wonder on a child’s face?
Christmas, in Christian countries anyway, is traditionally a time to relax, to eat and to drink (a lot), and to welcome friends and family into the home, so making it as Christmassy as possible, if that is a real word, is your goal for the festive season.
Even people who don’t, as a rule, actually celebrate xmas, often join in the fun anyway, after all, it’s a time for everyone, right?
Not only that, but there are other things to think about too such as your outdoor decorated Christmas tree and maybe a few decorations on the lawn too, for added effect?
After all, if your house is not lit up like the main runway at Heathrow Airport, during Christmas, how will Santa Claus and his reindeer find your house?
There is a fine line with putting up Christmas outdoor lighting, as we said, to be vulgar like the Americans, or being tasteful and using your own creativity to produce a lovely Christmas display for the exterior of your house.
Don’t try and out-do the neighbours in some “keeping up with the Joneses” approach because that is not what the festive season is all about and in some cases, it could backfire on you!
Many people who go overboard with decorating the exterior of their home during Christmas, do so for charity, so if there is a worthy cause that you know of, why not complete it with a collection box for the charity and really spread that goodwill festive cheer!
An over the top display can cause resentment so go easy!
Christmas outdoor lighting
OK, the first thing you need to do is PLAN what you are going to do, if you see my point. Write down, on one side of A4, what you are going to do and in what order you plan to do them in. Focus in your mind what you plan to get out of this.
Often Christmas lights, if they are used each year and are not brand new from the shop, will be stored away in the loft, or the cellar or maybe even in the garage, so good luck with untangling them!
Now is the time to get the lights out for this year, but wait before you hang them up.
Christmas outdoor lighting, or at least the lights themselves, are of course electric and therefore a potential hazard, especially outdoor ones, so make sure you unravel your Christmas lights and check for any breaks in the wires (Rats and other mice can chew the wires), and also make sure no bulbs are missing.
Some strips of lights will still work if one bulb goes, but others won’t so to avoid the frustration of hanging your lights only for them not to work, check first!
Then BEFORE you go and hang them, plug them in and check they work! You would be surprised how many people spend days and days hanging the lights on the roof, down the walls etc, only to find they don’t work!
Can you imagine the disappointment? So to avoid this, thoroughly check the bulbs in your Christmas outdoor lighting for faults, and then you are ready to go.
Don’t forget the Christmas front door!
I had to quickly mention the front door, often the first thing people see before they enter the house so carry on the Festive theme and decorate your door with garlands or wreaths like in the image above.
Hanging your Christmas lights.
With reference to a point we made earlier, make sure SAFETY is your primary concern, after all, who wants to spend the holiday season in hospital?
Planning is the key to saving you time, and maybe saving your neck, when putting up Xmas lights, so make sure you look at some sort of plan, even if it is only a few notes written on one side of paper, make sure you know what you are doing, and what lights go where.
When putting up Christmas outdoor lighting, it is usually best to start at the top and work down, so its up on the roof maybe (but only if you are safe and you know what you are doing) , and get that illuminated Santa and his sleigh up, maybe putting lights around the chimney too.
Hanging Christmas lights on the roof.
A big word of warning again, your roof is high up!
Roof tiles can be slippery, and from the tip of the roof, to the road below, is a LONG way down, in fact normally around 25 to 30 feet, so unless you are “spiderman”, call a contractor who will have the right equipment and experience on working at heights that can help you set your Christmas display up, often at a fairly low cost.
Hanging your lights on the wall and sorting out the garden.
Once the lights are up on the roof, you can then move down to a safer place and start to hang on the walls. Make sure that the lights are affixed safely to the wall or whatever anchor point you are using, but in a way that will allow you to take them down easily afterwards!
If you have a Christmas tree you planted one year in the garden then you have the ideal tree to hang your lights on, but if not, you can buy artificial Christmas trees and then decorate them as you like.
Be careful with electrics at Christmas
If your neighbourhood often has snow during this time, make sure all electrical cables are shielded from any water or damp getting into them because they will break the fuse if water gets into them and you could be left with no electric on Christmas day!
This also means that if the wires are wet with snow, damp, dew or rain, they potentially can electrocute someone, or even you. Make sure the lights are fed into an RCD which is like a trip-switch in the plug socket, available from many garden and DIY stores and offer protection against electrical shocks.
If you study the tip above, and you are confident in putting up this year Christmas outdoor lights display, you could be the envy of the street, but don’t overdo it and make the display too cluttered.
TIP: Use only 2 or 3 colours, this is England, NOT Lapland!
Go for a specific xmas theme or make sure all your separate parts of the display work well visually with each other and complement each individual piece of the outdoor display
Sometimes people abandoned the idea of coloured lights and just go for white, which can bring a lovely “clean” feel to the display, but it’s up to you what you do, it’s your house; Remember the phrase that sometimes, “less is more.”
Remember also that the COST OF ELECTRIC has to be factored into this too and if you plan to leave the lights on all Christmas, and especially all night, you will not be too pleased to have a huge electric bill in January.
Finally, stand back with your family, or whoever helped you install your seasonal lighting display, and admire your hard work, and of course the smiles on the faces of people who come to see it!
On behalf of all of the NEVER PAINT AGAIN team, may we wish you a very happy and safe Christmas, and a prosperous new year in 2014.