I know, I know. Thanksgiving is barely in the rear-view mirror and you're digging into Black Friday shopping already. But, this weekend is a common weekend to break out the Christmas decorations. The weather is even cooperating a little bit. So, for those of you getting outside to string Christmas lights on your house, here are 9 tips to help you out. Also, I won't judge if you want to do your best Clark Griswald impression or if you're just happy to get one string on your house so you aren't the only home looking dark on your street. To each their own! Now, let's dive into those tips...
1. Safety First! - Winding up in the emergency room is the last thing you want to do this weekend, or any weekend for that matter! So, avoid the holiday black and blues by always hanging lights with a partner who can hold the ladder for you. Also, avoid climbing on roofs after rain or snow. Slipping off the roof under those conditions didn't work so well in the movie The Santa Clause and I won't work so well for you either.
2. Unpack Carefully - Lights break and glass can cut you. You should unpack gently, looking for and replacing broken bulbs along the way.
3. Extension cords are your friends - spend a little extra money on the heavy-duty extension cords that are UL-listed for outdoor use. Also, avoid overloading your circuits by only linking five strings of lights together before plugging into an extension cord.
4. LED cost less to light - LED Christmas lights use roughly 70% to 90% less energy and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. You can safely connect many more LED light strings than incandescents.
5. Take lights down sooner than later - The outdoor elements in South Dakota can take a toll on your lights as they endure wind, snow and frigid temperatures. To extend the life of your lights, take them down right after the holidays, weather permitting. (Remember, safety first!) The longer you leave your lights up, the sooner you'll have to replace them. And that cost you more money in the long run.
6. Plan a year ahead - Wait, plan for next year already? That's right! You should shop the after-Christmas sales to find the best prices on lights and decorations that you can proudly display next year. Also, you can stock up on your favorites so you'll have spares when you need them, especially if the lights you like get discontinued.
7. Permanent attachments can save time - If you know you'll be using the same lights and the same configuration for a few years, it's best to invest in permanent clips that will save you time when hanging lights each year. You'll get about 3 years out of them before the sun wears them down.
8. Find those blueprints - Instead of guessing how many light strings you'll need, or trying to measure it out with your handy-man tape measure, check your home's blueprints and use those measurements as a guide. They can save you some time guessing and checking later.
9. Store them in a ball - Okay, now you think I've lost it. But, hear me out. If you wrap five times in one direction, then turn the ball 90 degrees and repeat, your lights will unroll easily and safely. Then store the ball in a cardboard box instead of plastic bags. The cardboard will absorb residual moisture and extend the life of your lights.
There you have it, the tips you never knew you needed about your Christmas lights. Keep these tips in mind this weekend and after the holidays and you will find you saved some time and money in the long run. Also, enjoy those lights! I know I'm looking forward to driving around town to see them all later this December. So thanks in advance for hanging those pretty twinkly lights!