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Hanging holiday lights often begins with Griswoldian ambitions, only for the mediocre results to leave you feeling like the Grinch. To help preserve your festive spirit, we asked Shawn Sealy, owner of Littleton’s St. Nick’s Christmas and Collectibles, for tips to keep the stress low when putting the lights high.
Measure Twice, Buy Once
Nothing is more frustrating than purchasing lights and then, after you’re on the ladder, discovering you need more. Whether trying to illuminate a porch, roofline, or tree, having an accurate idea of the feature’s dimensions will save you a return trip to the store during an already busy time of year.
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Tips for Lighting Trees
The right amount of tree lights can turn ordinary displays into regular Rudolphs. The general rule of thumb is about 100 bulbs per foot for pines (so a five-footer needs 500 bulbs) and a little less for deciduous trees; wrap the trunks as tightly as possible. Canopies, however, look better with just a glimmer, so use a strand with bulbs that are two feet apart.
Don’t add to the spike in ER visits during the holidays. To reach higher places, such as branches or peaks in rooflines, use a paint roller with an extension pole attachment. “It makes this awesome install hook for lights,” Sealy says. Those with children and pets will want to stake cords for yard decorations to eliminate tripping hazards. Elevate cords by hanging them within bushes or securing them to trees to protect them from moisture at the ground level.
Inflatable decorations are a fun and relatively inexpensive way to up your game, but blow-up Frosty requires careful maintenance to ensure a return performance next season. (Pro tip: Roll, don’t fold, when you store inflatables.) Even with the best care, inflatables will only last a few years; fiberglass decorations can endure for decades, though they are more costly.
Replace every third or fourth bulb of a traditional strand with a twinkle bulb to give your display extra flair. Just be sure they’re energy-efficient LEDs, rather than old-school, power-sucking incandescents. (That advice goes for all your lighting paraphernalia.)