Tips for Safely Hanging Outdoor Holiday Decorations

Holiday outdoor light hanging tips


‘Tis the season!  While many have spent several months preparing their spectacular lighting and sound displays, most of us opt for simpler yet festive and attractive outdoor lighting.


Here you will find some tips for hanging your outdoor displays to compliment your home, yard, and neighborhood.


Know Your Neighborhood Policies


Many neighborhoods have Homeowner Associations.  Check with your HOA manager or policy book for exterior decorating guidelines before beginning your project if you live in a neighborhood with an HOA. Many associations restrict the placement, number, and color of the outdoor lights.  Be sure to follow the rules and keep your neighbors in the association happy.


Check Existing Lights


If you have strings of lights from prior years, be sure to check them before hanging.  


  1. Unpack and unwind or unroll each strand of lights.
  2. Inspect the stand for apparent cracks or breaks in the wiring.  
  3. Plugin and check that all the lights are working.
  4. Replace any bulbs that are not working.
  5. Check all connectors and exterior extension cords.
  6. Experts recommend using LED lights for brilliance and durability.
  7. Set timers and check that all lights come on and off as scheduled.


Tips From the Professionals


The popular HGTV network is a great place to turn for expert advice on just about anything that a do-it-yourselfer would want to know.


Here are some essential planning tips.


  1. Be sure that any lights you plan to hang outdoors are rated for outdoor use.  Indoor strands are not weatherproof.


  1. Do not overload your electrical circuits.  Most exterior outlets are rated for 15 amps.  The number of strands of lights should not exceed one-half that amount of draw on the electrical circuit (7-8 amps).  An electrician can add additional exterior outlets around your home if needed.


  1. Plan your display around the home’s architectural features. Lighting experts recommend beginning your design at the center of your home and working out from there to highlight the home's features (dormers, gables, roof lines, etc.)


  1. Accent the landscape.  Use the trees and bushes in your yard to guide the visual interest to your home’s lights.  Highlight trees and shrubs with canopy lighting.  Line walkways, sidewalks, and fences with lights, as well.


If using displays, plan to place them as focal points and use spotlights if they are not pre-lit.


  1. Consider the color.  While white lights remain the most popular design, many choose to add color to their outdoor lighting.  Consider how distinctive your design will be and if you want to stand out.  Using either one color or a blend of two or more colors can be effective.


  1. Safety is key. Use caution and keep safety as your number one goal. It is best to have a partner (or two) when hanging outside lights.  Never climb a ladder alone and use a spotter. 


If roofs or peaks are too steep, consider hiring a professional service.  They have the equipment to reach dangerous areas safely.


  1. Always use approved outdoor light hangers and clips for gutters, porches, and other home features.


  1. Add greenery for daytime color.  Greenery adds a splash of color when the sun is out and helps conceal the strings of wire.  Boughs and wreaths add to the design’s festive appeal, as well.


Setting Up and Removing on Schedule


Hanging outdoor lights requires time.  Check your schedule and weather report before starting your home’s outdoor light project.  Plan to have your lights up and ready to turn on when the season begins.


Remove and store your lights and displays when the season is over.  Leaving decorations up too long can cause the wires to become dry, brittle, and cracked.


Best wishes on creating a beautiful holiday display for your home!