There’s nothing more charming than seeing the outside of your home all lit up for Christmas. When your home joins all the other ones on the block, it creates a beautiful glow that will be enchanting for people driving up and down your street during the holiday season.
While you certainly don’t want to just copy your neighbor’s outdoor Christmas lights, designing your own can be a daunting task. Do you go for the all-white look or mix it up with just one or two main colors? Do you want to create a scene with some of your favorite holiday characters or do a theme? With new lighting technologies, there are all sorts of ways to make your outdoor holiday lights your own.
If you’re a new homeowner in need of a good outdoor Christmas light design or just tired of your old design, here are our best tips for hanging your outdoor Christmas lights and designing a display that speaks to your aesthetic.
How to think about your outdoor Christmas light design
When you’re designing your perfect outdoor Christmas light design, it’s easy to get pulled in so many different directions. You might think you like the all-white display but fear it will be too boring or too plain, or you like the different multi-color lights but you think it might be too much.
Before you get overwhelmed, top and think through you design by considering a few points first:
- Choose a focal point for your home. Your home really needs just one focal point, and your lights should work to highlight it. That could be your front door, your front window or the center of your yard. Starting with a focal point can help you keep focused as you decide on a design and stop you from overlighting your lawn.
- Pick complementary colors. Okay, so you don’t want to do white lights only, but multi-color lights seems like too much color. Instead, choose two complementary colors to complete your look, such as blue and white or red and green.
- Consider the colors of your home and yard. White lights on a white house is too much, but white lights on a red brick house would make an elegant statement. Consider using your lights to bring out other colors in your home, such as a blue or red front door.
- Think about where it’s best to hang your lights. Every home is different, and the land around it is also different. If
you have a lot of rocky or uneven ground around your home, it may be too
dangerous to climb a ladder and try to hang lights. Remember, you have a lot of
options when it comes to hanging your lights, such as:
- Along your roofline
- Around your deck railings and columns
- Following your front path
- Around your windows and door
- On top of bushes
- In the trees
Once you decide where you’re going to hang your lights, measure your roofline, railings, columns and pathways to make sure you get enough strands of lights to complete your look. You don’t want to be running back and forth to the store because you don’t have enough lights. Measure once and you’ll only need to go to the store once.
Popular outdoor Christmas lights for 2019
Decades ago, blinking lights were all the rage. Then came the icicle lights and finally the white reindeer figurines. Just like any other type of lighting, outdoor Christmas lights have their own styles that come in and out from year to year. You probably don’t notice them as much because once you buy your own, you’re usually not looking to change them too much. You only know about new displays when your neighbors put them up.
Nowadays, homeowners have all types of outdoor Christmas lights to choose from. Here are a few of our favorites:
- LED lights: While you can still get those long, thin light bulbs by the strand, more people are opting for LED lights instead. LED lights come in white and multi-color, and they shine bright against your home. They also save you money on your electric bill. If you don’t enjoy that expensive energy bill coming in January, LED lights can bring your electric bill down while still looking beautiful.
- Net lights: It’s exhausting when you have to weave a strand of lights around every single branch on the bushes in your front yard. Instead of spending an hour doing each bush to make sure the lights look even, choose net lights instead. These lights look like a fishing net, and they can be draped over your bushes. Arrange them to your liking, and you’re done in minutes.
- Inflatable figures: You’ve probably seen these inflatable figures in the yards of your neighbors. During the day, these figures lay flat on the ground, but at night, they’re reinflated and bring some festive cheer to the yard. You can find all different types of figures from Disney and Peanuts characters to Santas and snowmen.
- Solar lights: Outdoor solar lights can look festive with a little garland added. You can use solar stake lights to line the path from your driveway to your front door.
- LED projections: In recent years, people have forgone hanging lights and started projecting them instead. LED projectors require little work to set up and absolutely no time spent on ladders. You can choose from thousands of displays to project on your home, such as snow falling or a special message such as “Happy Holidays.” Many of these projectors come with different colors and a remote, so you can change up the look of your home every day or every year.
- Laser lights: What if you could cover your whole home in twinkling lights? That’s the idea with laser lights. Similar to LED projections, laser lights use a single projector to cast the facade of your house in twinkling red and green lights. You can control it all with a remote inside your home, so there’s very little work for you to do. You also won’t have electrical cords running around your home and creating tripping hazards.
If you’re thinking about updating your Christmas lights this year, consider one of these new modern displays. Some, like the projections, are easy to set up and take down, so if you’re not able to climb a ladder, this is a good alternative.
Tips for creating the perfect outdoor Christmas light design
As you can see, there are a ton of options when it comes to lights, and you don’t want to go overboard with your lights. Astronauts on the International Space Station shouldn’t be able to see your house from space, after all.
First, don’t give in to filling your yard with tons of figurines. Whether you like doing the negative space reindeer or snowman or prefer the blow-up Mickey Mouse or Frosty the Snowman, you don’t want to make your yard look cluttered. Choose one big inflatable display or two smaller ones or a few smaller plastic figurines to create a scene such as a nativity or a Disney display. If you are going to use figures, make sure the lights on your house are minimal.
Your outdoor Christmas lighting design should be a balance, so look to your focal point for inspiration. Think about how you want to highlight this section of your home. If you have your Christmas tree in the front window where it will shine, consider outlining your window with lights that go with your tree. You could also outline your front porch with evergreen garland on the deck railings and lights around your door.
Don’t be afraid to mix in other materials to your design to give your display a layered look. During the daylight hours, your decor won’t stand out with the lights off, but if you add evergreen garland, wreaths on your door and windows and potted poinsettias to your porch. This will add color organically, and they won’t cost you any extra money on your energy bill.
When your lights are up, set a timer so they go off and on at certain times of the day. You don’t want to have to manually turn them on and off every day because you will inevitably forget and either leave them on all night or never turn them on at all. A timer will also help with security if you’re leaving for the holidays. When the lights turn on and off, it appears as if there’s someone at home. This can be enough to deter a burglar from breaking into your home.
If all of this seems to be too overwhelming, consider hiring a professional to decorate the exterior of your home. A professional will handle weaving strings of lights around your tree branches or porch railings. Having someone do the work for you and take it off your plate can be well worth the money you pay the professional. In the end, you’ll have a beautiful home that stands out on the block.
How to hang Christmas lights from your gutters
Now it’s time to finally hang your outdoor Christmas lights, but before you get started, there are some important things to know. As you hang your lights, you’ll be working with electrical cords, ladders and extension cords. All it takes is one slip off the ladder to put a major damper on the holiday season, so as you start hanging up your lights, be careful and take extra precautions.
Before you start, check your outdoor electrical outlet to ensure it’s safe to use. You want to use a ground fault circuit interpreter, which will shut off in the event of an overcurrent. Too much electricity can — at best — short circuit your lights, which will blow them all out, but at worst, the current could also start a fire. This electrical outlet will stop the flow of electricity if there’s too much of it.
While you’re at it, check your extension cords and cables to make sure there are no tears or loose wires. It doesn’t take much to start a fire when electricity is concerned, and you don’t want to hurt someone.
Here are our favorite tips for hanging Christmas lights from your gutter:
- Choose a sturdy ladder and make sure it’s set on flat ground. Most accidents happen with ladders and result in broken ankles and arms. If your ladder is looking a bit old, consider replacing it before you start hanging your Christmas lights.
- Test your lights first before hanging them. You don’t want to get all your lights up and then find out that one string of lights no longer works. Save yourself the headache and test it all out beforehand.
- Stock up on light clips for your gutter. These clips will be your best friend. They attach to gutters easily and will hold your strings of lights. Make sure you buy enough to support the weight of your lights. If you buy too few, the lights may slouch. If the lights are too heavy, they might pull on your gutters. The last thing you want is for your lights to bend your gutters, so remember, you can never have enough clips. There are also deck clips for the railings on your deck, or you can use wire to hang them.
- Try a light pole: For those who don’t want to use or a ladder — or need an extra boost on a ladder, try a light pole. This handy device will extend your arm and help you reach those peaks and corners of your home.
Remember: safety first with your lights. If you don’t have the equipment or your yard is too rocky or uneven for a ladder, there’s no shame in hanging a nice wreath on your front door and putting a light-up snowman on your lawn.
Do you have an outdoor Christmas light design ready to go? Tell us about it in the comments and let us know how our gutter cleaning service can help you clear out your gutters before it’s time to hang the lights.