So the time has arrived and arrived quite quickly i might add...another year has flown by and its time to go to the attic, back of the closet or wherever you keep your holiday decor. As you stare with disgust at the sloppy way someone thoughtlessly stored your Christmas lights last year, you suddenly realize that the thoughtless culprit is wearing your shoes....yes, that's right, it was you. Well, as you try to forgive your past self, you begin to ponder your options, either begin unraveling the tangled mass of lights or head off to your local store. Whichever you choose, lets go over a few tips for a successful campaign to brighten your holidays and with a little patience, be the bright spot of your neighborhood....
The first thing you should do is to take the time to make yourself a plan, a map if you will, of how you want the lights to run, where they are going to be powered from and how many strings you are going to need to accomplish the look that you are after. If you are buying new lights, the length of the light strings should be printed on one of the sides of the package. With the aid of a helper and a tape measure, do a preliminary measurement of the trim boards you are wanting to illuminate. Carefully record your measurements then head off to the store of your choice, (if your still unraveling lights...you can skip this)
Now that you've arrived at the store, if you were not confused before, you might get overwhelmed quickly with the sheer amount of choices that you now face. With the addition of LED lights, homeowners who were once reluctant to decorate the exterior of their homes are now free to do so without the fear of an outrageous utility bill. Keep in mind that conventional light sets, even though they use more electricity, will be much brighter than their LED cousin. Ultimately the choice is yours.
Here is a short list of things you might need to successfully complete this project.
1. A Sturdy Ladder (of course)
2. Electrical tape
3. Light clips for Christmas light installation
4. Staple Gun and Staples (some applications)
5. Ample supply of patience
6. Exterior rated extension cord(s) 7. Screw in light adapter(s)
8. A helper is always nice
Now that you are home and you have the light sets that you desire, find your starting point... the ideal spot would be the area closest to an exterior electrical outlet. If you do not have an exterior outlet, you can purchase a "screw in" adapter for an exterior light fixture at your local hardware store, this way you will have the option to turn the lights on and off at will via your interior switch.
Remember not to start with a light set unless your power outlet is close to your starting point. Your lights must start at the very beginning of the area of trim boards that you wish to illuminate in order to not look sloppy. To accomplish this, you may have to route your extension cord so that it too terminates where your lights begin. Make sure your cord is not plugged in yet and carefully attach your extension cord with proper fasteners, for example, staples, nails or hooks, being very careful not to damage or pierce cord casing. To damage your cord in any way may produce a fire hazard. If you plan on decorating the exterior every year, you may want to use cup hooks. This is a safe and easily sealed alternative to staples. (I am not a fan of staples)
Starting with the male end of one of your light sets, attach lights to the shingle edge or gutter edge with the plastic installation clips that you purchased earlier. As I stated earlier, I personally do not like using staples and avoid them except at areas of tension where nothing else will work. Some of the older light sets will only allow you to connect up to three light sets before you need to run a new extension cord, but the newer LED light sets allow a much longer run of lights. At each end of lights, there is an excess of cord that you MUST account for in order not to have a gap at the end of each light string. Take note of that gap and bunch up the excess cord to give the illusion of a continuous run. Just to be cautious, you may want to put a short strip of electric tape to help seal each plug junction (don't get carried away with the tape,). Continue with this process until all of the trim you are decorating is done, then plug in your lights and check your work. (NOTE) Please do not put staples into your roofing surface. I cant tell you how many times I've seen this done in real life and I still cringe (and laugh) every time I see Chevy Chase do this in his vacation movie...but i guess that's the whole point of the movie,.... crazy guy does crazy stuff....(Don't be "that guy")......Well that's about it,... now bundle up, go outside and deck your halls people!!....Have a safe and a very, very Merry Christmas!!