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A customer at St. Nick's Christmas & Collectables puts up his Christmas lights according to this guide

How to Hang Christmas Lights Leave a comment

Holiday lights have somewhat of a reputation for being one of the most frustrating and complicated parts of decorating for Christmas. And it’s true – few things can dim your holiday cheer more quickly than a strand of lights that are tangled, refusing to light, or seemingly impossible to hang.

So, we’ve created a guide that demystifies the process of hanging, fixing, and storing Christmas lights, both outdoors and inside your home. With this Lights 101 guide, you’ll be ready to light up your holiday home efficiently and safely – let’s go!

How to Hang Christmas Lights Outdoors

When your home is aglow with outdoor Christmas lights, it makes for a magically cozy place to spend the holidays.

What you’ll need:

  • Christmas lights (measure twice, buy your strands once!)
  • Extension cords
  • A measuring tape
  • Light clips (or nails)
  • A light timer (optional)
  • Ladder

Step 1: Plan out the placement of your lights.

Figure out where your outdoor outlets are (if you have any), and use that as a starting point. Some ideas for where to hang Christmas lights outside include:

  • Lining your gutters/roof’s bottom edge
  • Doorways
  • Windows
  • Eaves
  • Along pathways
  • Around trees, shrubs, railings, or lamp posts

Once you have a plan in place, measure carefully to determine how many strands you’ll need (and their length).

Step 2: Get your lights, then test them.

Depending on the look you want, you’ll need to consider different strands based on the bulb spacing, length, and brightness. We have a great guide to the different light types that can help. Make sure your lights are safe for outdoor use.

Before you hang the lights, test them to find any faulty or burnt-out bulbs.

Step 3: Hang your lights.

First, set up your extension cords and a timer, if you’re using one. Then, starting from the ground up (where your outlet or extension cord is), is hanging. As you go, plug in each strand to the next one.

We recommend using Christmas light clips rather than nails, so you can avoid damaging the exterior of your home. Space each clip about a foot apart for best results.

How to Hang Lights on a Christmas Tree

Whether or not you hang lights outside, just about everyone decorates their Christmas tree with beautifully bright bulbs!

What you’ll need:

  • Christmas lights
  • Surge protector
  • Extension cord (optional)
  • A light timer (optional)

Step 1: Determine how many lights you need.

The best rule of thumb is to plan for a minimum of 100 lights for every foot of your tree’s height. So, a seven-foot tree needs at least 700 lights.

Of course, if you’re working with a pre-lit artificial tree, the process is considerably easier. You can add a few strands of lights for extra color or brightness, but you’ll already have a fabulous foundation of perfectly spaced lights – no effort required!

Step 2: Get your lights, then test them.

Once you know how many lights you need, choose strands according to your preferred color, style, and style. Make sure you’re buying the same wattage so that the brightness is consistent. Mixing and matching different strands will often lead to an obvious difference in brightness, warmth, or even color.

Plug in each strand, then test and replace any unlit bulbs. This is a key step before you hang them up!

Step 3: Hang your lights.

Start from the bottom of the tree, working your way up through the branches. Keep the lights plugged in and lit as you go so that you can see how it looks. You can disguise the outlet plugs by tucking them into the branches nearest the trunk.

If you’re having a hard time getting the lights to hang just right, try attaching them with small green pipe cleaners to package ties.

Finishing touches like ornament spinner accessories, novelty lights, and even vintage-style bubble lights are a great way to create a unique, personality-filled effect. Don’t forget to layer some smaller LED lights alongside your larger bulbs to add dimension and visual interest.

Our Top Tips for Hanging Holiday Lights

Now, you’re prepared with the basic how-to for hanging your Christmas lights – but we’re about to help you achieve pro status with these handy tips.

Troubleshooting Christmas Light Problems

So, you’ve used our guide and tried all our tips, but you’re still struggling to get your lights hung perfectly. Don’t worry, because, with a little determination and these troubleshooting tips, you’ll be well on your way to a set-up that would make Santa proud.

How to fix Christmas lights that won’t light up

  1. First, unplug your lights.
  2. Then, try to pinpoint the issue.
    1. If you’re working with incandescent lights, and part of the strand won’t light up, look for bulbs that are missing or burnt out.
    2. If you have LED lights, check each bulb individually to make sure that the socket’s wire prongs are correctly lined up with the bulbs’ wiring.
  3. Replace any faulty or missing bulbs.
    1. Wear thick gloves to protect yourself from any accidentally-broken bulbs.
    2. Use pliers to carefully remove mini bulbs, replacing any that are broken or not lighting up.
    3. Unscrew larger bulbs gently, then replace with new bulbs as needed.
  4. Next, check for blown fuses if your incandescent lights still aren’t working. Behind the small door in the plug box, you’ll find the fuses. Use a multimeter to check each one, and examine each to see if any appear damaged. Replace any blown fuses.
  5. If you’ve completed the steps above without any luck, it may be time to replace your Christmas lights.

Storing Christmas Lights

Putting away your holiday lights might not be as much fun as hanging them up, but it’s just as important – if not more so! Proper Christmas light storage makes the difference between your lights lasting for years, and strands that are impossible tangled or broken beyond repair.

Avoid unnecessary frustration and streamline next year’s set-up by following these tips:

  • Invest in quality storage options, including a few Christmas light storage wheels. As you take down your lights, you’ll simply wrap the strands around the wheel. It’s the best way to prevent tangling and knots.
  • If you want to try leaving your lights on your artificial tree as you pack it up, there’s some prep work you’ll need to know about. As you hang your lights, each section of the tree must be completed individually (so, each section will be plugged in separately). This way, you can dismantle your tree with the lights still on it.
  • Store your lights out of direct light and heat, if possible.

Shop the Best Christmas Lights and Décor from St. Nick’s

Are you ready for a holiday season that’s brighter than any you’ve had before? Christmas lights are a classic staple of any home’s holiday décor and one of the most enjoyable ways to illuminate your space with a fun, festive touch. Whether you’re hanging lights outdoors or in – or more likely, both! – St. Nick’s has you covered with an exceptional selection of high-quality lights in every size, style, and color.

Explore our full selection of Christmas decorations, ornaments, lights, and more when you visit St. Nick’s or shop online today!

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