Looking to spruce up your yard (or your neighbors’) for the holidays? Outdoor Christmas lighting is both affordable and incredibly effective — so even if you’ve never rigged up a strand of lights before, it’s a project you can handle. With a few basic tools and a little bit of DIY know-how, you can transform your home into a Winter Wonderland for little or no cost. All you need is some basic skills, a few basic tools, and some basic time to get the job done. Read on for our complete guide to hanging outdoor Christmas lights.
Choose Your Lights Wisely
There are a few things to keep in mind when picking out your lights. First, do you have enough room to drive the lights? If not, you’ll need to find another location. Also, are the lights weatherproof? If not, they’ll be a total loss pretty much right away. Luckily, there are a few great brands that make lights that are both weatherproof and incredibly bright.
Next, consider the type of light you want. If you want an ambient light that continues to light up the night, you’ll want to go with a static light. These lights are best suited for indoor or outdoor use. If you want lights that flash, twinkle, or blink, you’ll want an animated light.
Plan Your Project
Once you know what type of lights you want, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. This is where a little bit of planning comes in handy.
First, decide where you want to put your lights. You don’t want to just pick a random spot — you need to find a location that will allow you to string lights between two trees or posts. You also need to keep this location in mind when choosing the length of the cord.
Choose Your Location
After you’ve chosen your location, it’s time to pick your trees or posts. While you can use just about any type of tree, you’ll get the most use out of spruce, pine, and birch. These are all hardy, natural woods that can handle the cold without dying.
Lay Out Your Wire
Once you’ve chosen your trees or posts, it’s time to get down to the wire. The first thing you’ll want to do is find an installer in your area. You can often find these guys on Yelp or Houzz. Next, you’ll want to research your options and figure out what wire length you want. The most common choice is an average of 30 ft. The standard is around 50 ft., but you can go as short as 15 ft. or as long as you like.
The next thing you’ll want to do is find the right spot to string your lights. Be sure to leave enough space between each light so they don’t touch. Also, make sure there’s nothing in the way like trees, bushes, or power lines. If there’s no clear path, you’ll need to clear the space with a post-hole digger or borrow a post-hole digger from a friend.
Glue Or Nail It
If you’re using lights that are purely decorative, you can skip this step. But if you plan on using your lights to light up your yard, you’ll need to nail or glue the wires to the poles. There are tons of options for this. You can use outdoor adhesive, which is what we use at our house. Or, you can use indoor plumbing adhesive, which is what my husband uses.
You can also use pressure-sensitive rubbers, or PSR, which are flexible and easy to apply. There are a few different types of PSR, but the most common is a hard plastic that’s removable.
Add the Grate
The last thing you’ll want to do is add the grate. This is where things get a bit tricky and where most people mess up. The first thing you’ll need to do is find a piece of wood that’s at least as tall as the pole you plan on using. Make sure it’s a sturdy piece of wood — no need to use a fancy piece of lumber. You’ll also want to make sure the wood has a solid flat surface with no wrinkle or flaw.
Next, you’ll want to use a square or spirit level to make sure the surface of the wood is perfectly horizontal. If it isn’t, you can sand it down or use a sander to get it perfectly flat.
Finally, you’ll want to mark the spot where you’ll nail or glue the wire. This is the most crucial step in the whole project. If you skip this, your lights will never be able to fully extend from the pole. Instead, they’ll be hanging limply off the front of the pole. Don’t let this happen to you!
Try These Easy DIYs For Simple Outdoor Christmas Lighting
Now that you know the basics, it’s time to get creative. There are tons of easy and inexpensive ways to light up your outdoor space for the holidays. We’ve got five ideas that are sure to impress your neighbors and friends.
First up, we have this outdoor twinkle light garland made from twinkle lights. All you need to do is cut the ends off of some lights, bundle them together with tape, and then suspend them from the rafters or ceiling.
Next, we have these outdoor string lights. This is another great way to use up those extra lights you have lying around. All you have to do is tie knots at the end of the string lights and then suspend them from the ceiling or rafters.
Next, we have these outdoor solar lights. This is another one of those eco-friendly options that’s great for the environment and your electric bill. All you have to do is place these lights in a well-illuminated area and then place the solar panel in another well-illuminated area. The lights will charge while you enjoy beautiful light from afar.
Outdoor Christmas lighting is an affordable and incredibly effective way to spruce up your home for the holidays. With a few basic skills, a few basic tools, and a little bit of DIY know-how, you can transform your home into a Winter Wonderland for little or no cost. All you need is some basic skills, a few basic tools, and some basic time to get the job done.