The holidays are here and it’s time to start hanging lights around your home. You’ve been planning this for months, and now it’s finally in sight: jealous neighbors, cars slowing to admire your handiwork, and who knows — maybe even a YouTube video with some awesome Christmas music playing in the background. This year you plan to do it up right!
While an epic Griswoldian display is an admirable goal, you might just want to avoid some of the following pitfalls as you create your extravagant holiday exhibition.
Your lights all worked fine when you took them down last February right? The thing is, nature can take a toll on neglected lights, and even when stored properly, normal wear and tear may cause broken bulbs, frayed cords or shorts in the wiring. Damaged lights can potentially cause a fire, so always check them out thoroughly before you plug them in.
It’s also a good idea to test your lights and be sure they work, before you put them up. Hanging all your lights once might be fun, but doing it the second time (after taking them back down to find that one elusive unlit bulb) probably won’t be on your list of top 10 favorite activities.
This one can get you in trouble on so many levels. Before you pursue this path, you may want to think really hard about what you’re getting yourself into. Divorces aren’t cheap, and while hanging from gutters and sliding off icy roofs might be funny in the movies, it’s a little less comical in real life. It might be a good idea to re-schedule your decorating for a day when ice, snow and frigid weather won’t cause unnecessary injury to you or your relationship.
Most of us have at least a vague idea that penetrating an electrical wire with sharp metal objects isn’t such a good idea. Besides the dangers of electrocution and fire, it just isn’t good for your house, either. Nails and staples can cause permanent damage to roofs, siding and gutters. Light clips are a better option and are available for just about any surface. You can even leave them up so that next year all you have to do is hang the lights.
There are a lot of different lights available these days. You can find just about any color, shape or size to fit your individual style and budget, and while bargain lights may be tempting, it’s important to only use lights that have Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) or some other reputable rating. Always be sure the lights are properly rated for your intended use, whether indoors or out.
Energy efficient lights, especially LEDs, usually last longer and use less energy than other lights — something that will make you very happy when that next electric bill comes around.
You might want to re-think plugging 2000 lights into that power strip you shoved through the doggie door. Be sure your power source and extension cords are rated for exterior use and properly grounded. Use a sufficient number of extension cords to safely accommodate your power usage and be sure not to overload the circuits in your home. When in doubt, leave the guesswork to electrical safety professionals.
This one is kind of important. While this holiday spectacle may represent one of your greatest achievements, your neighbors might have other ideas. Gawking spectators may be your dream, but they can be a nightmare to neighbors trying to exit their driveways. And if they aren’t getting sufficient sleep because your house lights up their bedroom like the noon-day sun, they might just end up with a bit of an attitude problem.
Always be considerate of your neighbors. Turn lights off when they’re trying to sleep, or when you’re out for the evening. A timer is a great way to regulate your lights, help conserve energy and keep your electric bill down.
When hanging lights, either indoors or out, it’s important to remember our furry friends. Be sure lights and power sources don’t pose a threat to pets. Position them high enough so animals don’t get tangled up in them or chew through the wires. We all remember a certain fried feline and smoking chair. Keep your pet safe and sound during the holidays.
Christmas is a great time to let your light shine — literally! Just remember this: there’s a fine line between gorgeous and gaudy — do you really want to cross it?