How To Hang String Lights
Decking the halls doesn't have to stop with the Christmas tree. Spread the holiday spirit outdoors, and decorate your home's exterior with string lights. Drape them over bushes and hedges; wrap them around trunks and limbs of trees; and line them up and down the rooftop. Turn your house into a winter wonderland that will be the envy of the block. To start, make an outline of lighting display; planning it out beforehand will save on stress during the decorating process. Test the lights before hanging (ahem, Clark Griswold) to ensure every bulb is working properly.
We called on lighting pro Bill Frey of Atlanta-based Illuminating Design to share his expert advice for turning your home into a magical holiday display. He recommends using LED bulbs for outdoor decorating. Though pricier, LED lights are worth the investment—they have a sturdier construction than incandescent strands, a much longer lifespan, and offer white and colored bulbs. White LED lights come in warm white and pure white styles; go with the pure white for a greater impact outdoors.
Frey uses C9-size LED bulbs for the roof. Secure light strands along the roofline with gutter clips (like these from Target), which can be removed after the holiday season. For the roof: Start by placing the centermost bulb at the peak of the roofline. This way, the lights hanging down on each side will be aligned, says Frey. Secure the strands with shingle tabs, which also help all the bulbs sit at the same height.
There are two styles for decorating trees: a canopy wrap and a branch wrap. "For a canopy wrap, treat the outline of the tree as one unit where lights circle around the entirety of the tree with each pass," instructs Frey. As the name suggests, branch wraps call for wrapping each individual limb with lights. Frey recommends using C7-size bulbs for canopy wraps and 5mm-size bulbs for branch wraps.
If you're feeling too tangled to begin decorating your own home, Frey recently launched Online Holiday Design, which offers personalized DIY Christmas lighting. Send in a photo of your house, and Frey and his team will design a custom lighting display and send all the materials you'll need to bring it to life.