Outdoor Christmas Decorations Made Easy

Hanging up outdoor Christmas decorations is a splendid way to help celebrate the holiday season. They add a bit of color and sparkle to your home and help it stand out in your neighborhood. Before you head outdoors to start putting up your Christmas decorations, though, you need to know which decorations work best and which safety guidelines to follow.

When to Get Started
In an effort to stay ahead of the competition and increase sales, stores tend to rush the holidays. It is commonplace to see Halloween decorations and Christmas trimmings displayed at the same time. When it comes to putting up outdoor decorations at home, it's better not to start too early. Wait until Thanksgiving has passed before putting up outdoor Christmas decorations. That way, you're not blurring the holidays together.

The Fundamentals
When planning the lighting, you can use strands of mini lights, large bulbs and icicle lights, as well as netting for covering bushes. Other options include colored, white, steady-on, blinking and chasing lights.

The type of Christmas lighting you choose naturally depends on your overall holiday design plan. If you're looking for the most energy-efficient lights, then choose LED lights. The safest lights are UL approved, which means they have been tested for fire and shock hazards, and they meet the requirements of the Underwriters Laboratories.

Other Outdoor Christmas Decorations
The same rule for safety applies to other decorations, such as lighted Christmas wreaths and illuminated inflatables. To ensure they are the safest available, make sure they are also approved by the Underwriters Laboratory.

Also, before you buy outdoor decorations, read the light and Christmas decoration packages carefully. Make sure they are intended for outdoor use, and follow the directions to the letter.

Hanging Christmas Lights
Fortunately, the days of pounding nails to hang outdoor Christmas lights and decorations on roof lines and around windows and doors are behind us. You don't even need to use a staple gun to hang Christmas lights. Hardware and home improvement stores carry plastic clip hangers that are safer and easier to use. You can choose plastic clips that easily attach to the gutters and slide under the edge of your shingles. Other hangers also allow you to hang Christmas lights and garlands around windows and doors.

Whatever outdoor decoration hangers you choose, make sure you read and follow the manufacturer's instructions in order to achieve the best results.

Safely Hanging Outdoor Christmas Lights
For maximum safety, your outdoor Christmas lights and other illuminated outdoor decorations should be plugged into an electrical outlet that's protected with a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. A GFCI monitors the electricity flow. If a leak is detected, the device shuts off the electricity. This prevents life-threatening electrical shocks to humans and pets when your outdoor decorations are lit.

If the outdoor plug you're going to use for your Christmas decorations doesn't have a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, you can purchase a portable one at your local hardware or home supply center.

Avoid Overloading the Circuits
It can be easy to get carried away with your outdoor Christmas decorations and to just keep adding light string after light string. By doing that, though, you can quickly overload the circuits. Not only will a circuit overload shorten the life of your outdoor Christmas lights and illuminated decorations, but an overload can also cause power outages and fires.

Be sure to read the manufacturer's directions to determine the recommended quantity of outdoor Christmas light strings that can safely be connected together. If the package doesn't provide this information, connect only three strings.

Choose extension cords for Christmas decorations that are rated heavy duty and are made to be used outdoors. Outdoor extension cords have durable coverings that are designed to resist moisture and hold up against the elements. For maximum safety, the extension cords you use for your outdoor Christmas decorations should be three-pronged plugs.


Ladder Safety

Be sure to follow basic safety rules when you're using a ladder to hang your Christmas lights and other outdoor decorations.

  1. Keep the ladder away from electrical wires overhead.
  2. Make sure the ladder is set up on flat, hard ground.
  3. Never stand on the top step of the ladder, especially when hanging outdoor Christmas decorations.
  4. Never reach out very far while you're standing on a ladder. Instead, climb down and reposition the ladder so it's closer to where you need to reach.
  5. Always keep one hand free to hold on while you're climbing up or down. This is especially important when you're carrying outdoor Christmas decorations.

Keep Peace with the Neighbors
Cut back on wasted electricity by using a timer with your outdoor Christmas lights and other decorations. Simply program the timer to turn the outdoor lights and decorations on at dusk and shut off by 9:00 pm that night. That way, your neighbors won't complain about your outdoor Christmas lights and decorations shining in their bedroom windows while they're trying to sleep.

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