Short Days, Bright Lights: A Festive Guide to Outdoor Lighting
I absolutely love this time of year. The colder weather brings big sweaters and hot drinks. There’s something truly special about bracing yourself to go out into the wild rain and foggy mornings that comes with the change in seasons.
Going to work and coming home in the dark does get a little tiresome however. I’ve tripped on plant pots, slipped on frozen puddles, cleared cobwebs with my face, and bumped my head on ladders, all because I simply didn’t see them.
Luckily, there’s an easy (and festive) fix for that. The wonderful world of outdoor lighting.
I consider myself an amateur Clark Griswold in exterior illumination. It may not be practical (this year) to fill every inch with 25,000 light bulbs (not including the Santa, the eight tiny reindeer and the “Merry Christmas sign). Although I do want to ensure that my lighting lights up the house, looks nice, and gets people in the holiday spirit as they drive past.
The festive lighting season should start around September, but I’ve been told many times to wait until December. Once I get the go-ahead, I’m straight to Home Depot to get some new lights and find replacements for the ones I didn’t store properly at the end of last Christmas.
There’s a few types of lighting solutions, including:
Projector (full range here)
Put your lights up in a couple of minutes. The projection lights give a twinkly light show right on to your home. All you have to do is plug it in and put it on your lawn. Time for a holiday-themed pastry.
Traditional outdoor (full selection)
There’s icicles, string lights, warm-white, bright-white, coloured, and twinkle. Come up with a plan and try to stick to it. My advice is to over-purchase the extension cords and return any you don’t need. Measure the distance and double what you think you’ll need for the shrubbery. It’s surprising how many strings of lights you need to illuminate a rhododendron.
Statues and inflatables (more here)
Go big. Want an inflatable, light-up snowman, or a family of reindeer feeding on your lawn? Why not? This is the time of year where you can do whatever you like and it’s OK. How will your neighbours even know it’s Christmas without a 7 foot Santa Claus on your lawn?
From magical to hilarious, there’s something for every lawn, balcony, patio and porch. You could also add them to your living room. I totally would if my wife hasn’t explicitly told me I’m not allowed. Can you guess which one of these I’d put next to the TV?
Decorating the house
Up the ladder I climbed, as I remembered that I should have invested in something a little more sturdy. This thing is wobbly and I do not like heights. Luckily I had my cousin-in-law, Dustin to hold the ladder and stop my from plummeting through the living room window.
For along the guttering, I used some easy-release clips for the lights to make sure they stayed nice and uniform (or as close as I could get while I held on for dear life).
The next job was to rummage around the surprisingly pointy branches of the bushes in front of the house. My puffy vest has a few rips in it, but I’d rather that than showing up to work on Monday looking like I’ve been in a fight with an angry cat.
The main lights I used was the Eco Smart LED lights as they are long-lasting and conveniently plug into each other end-to-end. That meant that I didn’t have to use too many extension cords which can start to look messy, even in the dark.
Christmas Lights Do’s and Don’ts:
- Plan where you’re going to put your lights before buying them.
- Make sure you have enough extension cords and multi-plug adapters.
- Choose a theme.
- Buy all warm-white OR bright-white sets OR colour – mixing them looks bad.
- Get someone to hold the ladder.
- Clip the strings of lights to something. They’ll be neater and give a more polished look.
- At the end of the season, wrap the lights around a piece of cardboard for easy untangling next year.
- Do it alone. It’s nice to have someone help and tell you when a bulb is out or you’ve missed a branch.
- Rush it. It’s ok to work on the lights over a few days. Give yourself time to adjust or go and buy another extension cord.
- Stress. There are enough things to add a few more grey hairs over the holidays. The lights should be a fun tradition.
If you need to know more, The Home Depot Canada also has a guide to all things Christmas lighting.
Disclaimer: Thanks to The Home Depot Canada for supporting this blog. All opinions, words, and photos (except the ones on their website) are mine. Also, if you’re going up a ladder, have someone hold it.
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