Decking the Halls - Hanging Christmas Lights Outside
There is seriously nothing like having your house all a glow with twinkling Christmas lights. We never hung lights on the roofline in our old house because it was a straight two story drop and we didn't have a legit ladder. Instead we focused our efforts on a glorious big blue spruce and put candles in the windows. I love the simplicity and classic look of the candles in the windows - probably because that's what my parents have always done.
But when we moved here last year, we had to re-imagine our exterior Christmas lights... no spruce and only two main windows in the front of the house which would look pretty sad with candles. Except... with a two level roofline, we thought it'd be much easier to get lights up on the roof so we were excited to give it a try. Plus, Zach bought himself a very manly extension ladder so how hard could it be? We found some great little plastic clips to help hang the lights except we ran into a serious snag... We didn't buy enough lights. And when I went to buy more - of the same make, model, color, everything - the color tone didn't match. In the $400 worth of lights I bought and returned, we never could get the color to match what was already up on the house. Frustrated, we decided to ditch the idea of finishing off the second story and try again this year.
Hanging Christmas Lights On the Roof
This year we had a game plan. I was not going to risk the color issue so I decided to buy all new lights and buy enough all at once to cover the roof. Using a photo of the house I estimated how many linear feet of lights I would need. We got two weekends in a row with 60 degrees and I think everyone had the same idea because when I went to find warm white lights, I couldn't find any white at Target, Walmart or Lowes. Finally found a set of C9 faceted bulbs at Home Depot and bought every box they had... so I just prayed it would be enough.
I prefer the warm white lights over the cool. I wanted LEDs to hopefully last a while, even though they're really not as warm as the incandescent - but they'll save me energy and money down the line. I did chose to go with faceted lights this year. They seem to give off a more even and bright glow than the regular LEDs.
We used this brand of plastic light clips that work on your gutter or shingles to get the strands in place. They work with an extension tool that we used to string lights on our spruce, which is a great way to hang lights if you only have a single story too. It's technically a "no ladder" system which is what I hung my patio lights on the gutters with out back.
These clips are useful for our DIY purposes, but the effect is different than what you see with the more professionally hung lights that hold each bulb perfectly in the same direction. So if that's what your going for, these are not the clips for you.
To get started, we ran an extension cord over to the side of the house and tackled the first story first. We started on the side of the house that most traffic comes in so that the lights would have a clean start on the corner of the house. By the time we got to the end, we had about 10 feet of excess so we ran them along the other side of the house where there is less visibility.
Then the second story. Zach was incredibly brave - it's much steeper and higher than it seems. My job was just to stand and watch and do more praying. Honestly, it was painful just to watch, but we had committed to saving the money to do it ourselves and were motivated.
We were super happy with the finished look! But I had one more plan up my sleeves that I wanted to try...
Framing Out the Windows with Christmas Lights
Last year I felt like the second story window area was super dark compared to the rest (we put my "fancy tree" in the lower level window) so I wanted to give the house a little more glow. I decided to try framing the windows with lights on the inside to really brighten everything up out front. Plus, I could do it safety from the inside to still give the outside of the house a little extra oomph.
After measuring, I bought lights on a white strand a few packs of my all-time favorite holiday lights and decor hangers: these Command Strip light hangers. They are awesome - I use them inside and out, on lights, cords and even garland, and they really worked great to do what I needed here.
I taped up a command hook on every corner and around the arch up top.
After running the lights in a straight row along the entire bottom of all three windows, I wove the lights up and down each window before hitting the arch and making my way back to where we started.
I did this on both the main floor and second floor windows. Taping these from the inside was so much easier and safer! Really gives a clean look from the outside too since my extension cords all run inside.
Loving what framing out the windows alone did to add more light and glow! If you're not into climbing the roof, starting with your windows are a great idea!
Holiday Porch Trees and Wreath
To finish off the front, we cleaned out our fall containers to "plant" my artificial trees in the big pots. I use two types of lights on these trees - the small regular twinkle lights and a larger C6 bulb (one smaller than what is on the roof).
I think having two sizes of lights on these little trees helps them really shine. Roof, windows, trees... just one thing left to do!
We have an annual tradition at work of gifting and receiving a fresh wreath for the holidays. I always look forward to this so much. While I like the artificial trees for ease year over year, there really is nothing like a fresh wreath on your door. It comes with a bow but I chose to just hang it bare and add a battery operated light with a timer on it so that it would light up with the rest of the house.
Using Timers for Controlling Christmas Lights
I put all our lights on timers to automatically come on around 4:30 in the afternoon and turn off around 11pm. I like the timers that let you pick multiple timeframes in a day like these because I also have them come on for 2 hours every morning when we're getting ready for the day. I've got everything inside plugged into timers too - including the pretty tree in the front window - so everything turns on within minutes of each other.
Our Finished Holiday Outdoor Christmas Lights
It was a labor of love, but worth every minute.
I love the glow of the house from the street.
And our "pretty" flocked tree shines in the main floor window which helps brighten it up from within.
Hope this inspires you to get your holiday glow on. If you do plan to get up on the roof, be careful out there! Otherwise stick with me and just do the windows! :)
Need a holiday fix-up? Here's what we used:
No Ladder Pro Holiday Light Hanging Kit and Clips (affiliate)
Command Light Clips (affiliate)
Outdoor Programmable Outlet Timer (affiliate)
Indoor Programmable Outlet Timer Set of Two (affiliate)
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