How to Hang Outdoor Christmas Lights like a Pro
Expand your Christmas lights from the inside out with the help of Festive Lights. After all, ‘tis the season!
Brighten up your neighbourhood with everything from connectable bulbs, curtain lights, and light up figures to dainty icicle and fairy lights – Festive lights has an endless supply of outdoor lighting options to choose from.
Putting together your dream outdoor winter wonderland can seem daunting, but luckily, we’re here to help make the process a lot more straightforward, and hassle free. So, whether you’re looking to ignite your home in National Lampoon-esque lights, or just looking to add a simple, subtle ambient glow to your outdoor setting – Festive Lights have put together a guide of handy hints, tips, and tricks to help you hang your Christmas lights like a pro.
Before you prepare for the ultimate switch on, there are a couple of things you need to do to ensure optimum safety.
- Are your lights suitable for outdoor use?
- All lights in our Christmas Outdoor lights section are weatherproof and completely safe to use outdoors.
- Are your lights working correctly?
- Before you start working on your display, you want to ensure that your lights are working correctly. It’s much harder to replace bulbs or fix any problems once they’re up!
- Check if your lights are damaged
- If you are using lights from last year that have been held in storage, ensure you check their cables, if they are worn or damaged in any way, it is important you replace these lights with new ones as this could be a sign that they are unsafe for use.
- Are the mains sockets located nearby?
- For any mains powered lights, ensure that there is a working accessible power socket nearby.
- Will you need to use an extension cable to power lights?
- If you are powering your lights from a mains socket inside of the house, you will need to ensure that you use a weatherproof extension lead or that your plugs are stored in a weatherproof box.
- Do not overload your extension cord.
- Consider the wattage they are designed for.
- Do not hang Christmas lights anywhere near power lines!
- This can cause an instant fire.
- Never use nails, tacks or staples when hanging light decorations.
- These can tear the protective insulation which can increase the chance of a fire.
Top tip: instead of using traditional larger bulbs, consider using low-burning mini lights, which have a lower wattage and burn a lot cooler than traditional larger bulbs.
Safety Advice: if you are ever unsure or have a feeling that installing a certain electrical component could be unsafe, always contact an electrician for advice.
How Many Lights is Enough for the Front of your House?
Estimating the amount of lights you need to decorate both inside and outside of your home can be tricky – that being said you will want to roughly calculate an estimate that won’t leave your outside space with blank spots or looking too overloaded.
- Begin by measuring the front of your house (the width of your house). Using a laser measuring tool or tape measure.
- If you want to cover both the left and right sides or back of your house, you will need to measure those too.
- Add together all of the outdoor features you desire to cover with lights.
- Add a foot or two to all of the strands, just to be sure that you have enough.
For an average house: Consider using four strands of 32-foot mini lights, plus two strands of 14-foot mini lights, for a total of 500 lights. If you want to use larger bulbs, consider using 10 of the 16-foot-long strands instead.
For a small house: Consider using four strands of 32-foot mini lights, for a total of 400 lights. If you want to use larger bulbs, instead use 7 of the 16-foot-long strands.
Picking the Right Lights
Picking the perfect Christmas lighting is all down to personal preference. Some love a burst of colour, while other opt for a subtle warming glow. Although we have hundreds of colours and styles available, here’s just a few of our personal faves –
- Icicle lights – Known as one of the most popular Christmas lighting choices, traditional icicle lights embody the magic of falling snow and ice, whilst also creating a minimalist and simplistic ambiance to any outdoor setting.
- String lights – One of the most versatile forms of lighting, Strings are especially great for use on outdoor trees, wrapping around guttering or attaching to your roof. They are also available in a variety of colourways!
- Cluster lights – Supply a fuller look than string lights with Cluster lights – great for wrapping around bushes, walls, and hanging around guttering.
- Light up Christmas figures – Create show-stopping finishing touch to any display.
- LED Christmas trees – These dazzling trees offer a unique added dimension to any outdoor space and make for a perfect alternative to a Christmas tree.
Measuring your Space
Preparation is key, so be sure to map out exactly where you want your lights to go before getting started. You don’t want to find out that you’re a few bulbs short while you’re halfway up a ladder!
Use a long tape measure to calculate the number of stands needed, being sure to cover all bases, including the windows, trees, shrubs and more! If the cable on your lights is too short, an extension lead is going to make all the difference.
Hanging Lights on Guttering
Strings, icicles or clusters hanging from your guttering is a dazzling way to add a touch of Christmas ambiance outside of your home.
Gutter hooks are imperative for hanging string and rope lights. You will want to ensure you are using outdoor decorating clips that are suitable to be stuck on both wood and UPV surfaces, such as door frames, gutters and fascias.
- First things first, you need to work out exactly how many gutter clips you are going to need to support your lights all the way along the guttering.
- Lightweight bulbs: Cable length divided by 50cm – you will need a clip every 50cm.
- Heavy bulbs: Cable length divided by 30cm – you will need a clip every 30cm.
- Carefully position your ladder, using the helpful guide supplied by The Ladder Association, and work your way along your guttering, moving the ladder each time. Clip your lights so that they’re taut but ensuring not to pull on the plug.
- Once you’re happy with the position of the lights, turn them on and admire your handy work!
Hanging Lights on Brick Walls
The great thing about installing hooks for your Christmas lights on brick walls is that you can use the same hooks year after year. Though, it is important to note that drilling holes directly into bricks will cause them to crack, and you will need to ensure that you are drilling holes into mortar instead.
- Begin by marking guide points of exactly where you’re planning on drilling your holes, leading approximately 50cm between each one.
- Drill the hole in each marked spot and start tapping in a wall plug into each hole with a rubber mallet.
- Screw in your hook and follow the same steps along the wall.
- Tread your lights amongst each of the hooks before turning them on to witness the finished outcome.
What if you want the look without the faff, and drilling holes in your walls isn’t doable? Well, did you know that glue can work just as well for hanging up your Christmas lights?
- Mark on your wall where you want to place your lights, leaving approximately 50cm between each one.
- Using a hot glue gun, place a small amount of glue where you want your lights to be.
- Hold the section of string lights onto the glue for at least 10 seconds, being careful not to burn yourself in the process. Follow this step along the wall.
- Flick the switch and away you glow!
- Come January and when you’re ready to remove your lights, the glue should easily peel away.
Hanging Window Lights
If you’re wanting to add some festive glamour to your windows, why not check out our dedicated blog and find out exactly how to hang Christmas window lights without nails.
Draping Trees and Plants with Christmas Lights
There’s nothing that screams Christmas more than a beautifully lit Christmas tree.
Decorating your outdoor trees and plants is one of the quickest and easiest ways to incorporate the magic of Christmas to your outdoor area and home.
Festoon and connectable lights are the perfect smart lighting option for decorating your shrubs and trees – available in a wide range of colours, so you can choose the style that suits your theme the best. Take your display one step further and intertwine free-standing figures such as reindeers and stars amongst the foliage.
As a general rule for a basic lit christmas tree you will need at least 100 bulbs per 1ft of tree.
This means that:
- 6ft tree needs a minimum of 600 – 1200 LED lights
- 7ft tree needs a minimum of 700 – 1400 LED lights
- 8ft tree needs a minimum of 800 – 1600 LED lights
- 9ft tree needs a minimum of 900 – 1800 LED lights
- 10ft tree needs a minimum of 1000 – 2000 LED lights
- Once you have ensured your Christmas lights are weatherproof and suitable for outside use, unroll them out until you have the single, non-plug end. This will sit at the very top of your trees or bush.
- Ensure you place the single non-plug end as far up the top of the tree as possible. Then begin working your way down towards the bottom of the tree – spacing each of the lights out as evenly as possible.
- Top tip: it is easier to walk around the tree as you go. If the back of the tree won’t be visible, you may consider zig zagging down the front of the tree instead of all the way around.
- Once you have reached the bottom of the tree and you are out of lights, ensure you twist the cable round a bottom branch for safety and plug it in your nearest mains socket.
- Take a step back and review your work. If all of your lights are spaced out properly, you’re good to go.
- Grab your family and friends and enjoy the big switch on moment together.
Christmas lights undoubtedly add an extra touch of colour, sparkle, and shine to the festivities. Afterall, one of the best things about the festive season is driving through each neighbourhood to see all of the outdoor Christmas lights each house has to offer.
At Festive Lights, we love to see you get creative and making decorating both inside and outside of your home a fun and magical experience for all of your family and loved ones. For inspiration on how to decorate your home this season, check our Christmas blog section, before heading over to the outdoor Christmas decs shop.