Bright Ideas for Holiday Decor

Who has the best holiday lights in your neighborhood? You do. Or at least you could with these helpful tips from industry experts.

By Roberto Cruz

AAA World Article

GAME PLAN
A good plan helps you avoid surprises—and you certainly don’t want surprises on top of a ladder in the freezing cold. Measure the roofline, windows, trees, and other areas where you plan to hang lights, and remember to buy extension cords that will reach the power outlets.

LIGHT RIGHT
Only use lights certified for outdoor use and follow the instructions so you don’t overload any circuits. LED lights use significantly less power than traditional incandescent bulbs, plus you can safely link more strands together in a series. Never use lights with frayed or damaged cords. Faulty wires could cause a fire. Holiday lights cause about 160 building fires annually, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

WORK SMART
Test the lights while you’re on the ground, and attach the light clips while you’re at it. Do not nail the cables to your house. That could damage the cords and possibly start a fire. Wrap all the connections in electrical tape to keep important pieces dry.

LADDER LUCK
Never reach for anything from a ladder, said Greg Regan, owner of Long Island Holiday Lights Installations, based in Bay Shore, N.Y. If something is out of reach, get down and move the ladder. Only use a ladder that is tall enough for the job and can support the weight of you and your tools. Don’t stand on the top two rungs.

DO IT YOUR WAY
Your budget dictates how many lights you hang, but even the simplest design can generate oohs and aahs. Choose a focal point like your front door or columns and decorate them in C-9-sized bulbs, Regan said. Stick to one style, or spruce it up with a few different colors. But remember, what goes up must come down. Be extra cautious when removing lights on cold, icy days in January, and don’t be afraid to call in a professional if you don’t think you can install or remove lights on your own.