The least expensive lights on the market are mini-lights. These are by far the most popular because of their low cost and low energy consumption. One downside to using mini-lights is that if one bulb in the string goes out, all the ones after it do, too.
That’s not the case with traditional, larger Christmas bulbs. Larger lights are designated C-7 and C-9 and have 5- to 10-watt bulbs, similar to what you might find in a night light.
2) Measure. Before buying lights, measure all the surfaces you wish to cover. Door and window frames, rooflines, around pillars or posts, along the driveway — take note of whatever straight line or curved surface will get lights, that way you’ll know exactly how many strands you’ll need to buy. Underbuying lights can cause problems when the store sells out of your particular type and color of light. Most importantly, include the distance to the nearest outlet. There’s nothing worse than reaching the end of a strand only to find out you’re three-feet short of a power source.
3) Have the right tools for installing Christmas lights. You’ll need a strong ladder, all-purpose light clips, a timer and, for those putting lights in trees, a light-hanging pole. Do away with staple guns and nails, which put unsightly holes in surfaces and can be a pain to remove, by investing in light clips. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be used for fastening lights to eaves, shingles, railings and gutters. Timers are great for avoiding leaving lights on in the middle of the night.
4) Find the outlet. A switch-controlled outlet is ideal. Also, only use an outlet with a ground-fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI, as these are safer and can quickly shut off electrical power in the event of a dangerous ground-fault. This type of outlet has two vertical slots — the left one slightly larger than the right — with a hole below them.
5) Pick a focal point for your light display. Exterior lighting experts suggest identifying a focal point for your lights — a post, a high-point in the roof line, or a particular tree or cluster of bushes. Bulb spacing is a major consideration when hanging Christmas lights. Bulbs should be spaced between 12 and 18 inches apart on bigger homes, bulbs on smaller homes should be spaced 6 to 12 inches, according to Christmas Lights Etc. The same applies for walkways — longer walkers, larger spacing; shorter walkways, smaller spacing.
6) Be creative. There is no limit to your holiday cheer when it comes to decorating. Happy Holidays!