When it’s the holiday season Ron Whiddon takes on his holiday persona, Mr. Christmas Lights, an expert extraordinaire on how to hang up Christmas lights. At this time of year, hundreds of families in the San Diego area turn to him for the best and brightest holiday décor, which means his own home is one of the last to get decorated since he’s so busy.
“I love Christmas, but I barely have time for my own house,” he said with a laugh.
He hangs up tens of thousands of lights around his community as Mr. Christmas Lights every season, and he’s planning to decorate nearly 500 homes this year!
If you’re looking for tips on how to hang up Christmas lights or other holiday lights this season, be sure to keep reading for expert advice from Whiddon and another professional light decorator. Both have more than two decades of experience and a lot of holiday cheer!
Choose LED Holiday Lights and Test Them Before Hanging
Save energy – both physical and electrical – and hang sturdy, LED lights this holiday season.
“Start out with the best (commercial-grade) lights, because store-bought lights only last a couple years and you’ll have to buy new ones,” Whiddon said. “Commercial-grade lights will last about 10 to 12 years.”
He said these lights are more likely to survive rain and snow, so it’s less likely that you’ll have to climb back up on your roof halfway through the season to repair damaged bulbs.
LED lights will also save you cash when your electric bill is due, said Josh Trees of WeHangChristmasLights.com.
“Incandescent lights are the old style and take more energy,” he said. “LED lights consume way less power and are much easier to install.”
Avoid Taping Christmas Lights to Your Home
Scotch or duct tape may seem like the easiest method for hanging holiday lights, but universal clips are a better choice for outdoor light jobs since, unlike tape, they won’t retain moisture near your electric lights.
“Tape can trap rain or sprinkler system moisture,” said Whiddon. “One raindrop can ruin everything.”
Speaking of weather concerns, Whiddon advises to always connect lights so the female plug hangs down. If you connect the lights and the plug faces the sky, water can get trapped inside the socket. It’s also important to hang the lights themselves so that the light socket (what the bulb screws into) faces down. Otherwise, rain could collect inside and short it out.
Practice Ladder Safety While Hanging Christmas Lights
Hanging holiday lights should always be at least a two-person job, for safety reasons, said Trees.
“If you’re going above 10 feet on a ladder, someone needs to hold the ladder,” he said. “Fortunately, we consider safety very important. But I’ve seen stories on the news, and there’s thousands of injuries every year in the ER related to hanging Christmas lights.”
In fact, the National Safety Council estimates about 15,000 injuries are reported after holiday decorating incidents. So it’s better to be safe than sorry when climbing ladders and hanging lights this season.
To help avoid slippage, Whiddon recommends having at least three extra feet of ladder over the roof’s edge.
“If your ladder is only, say, six inches above the roof line and that ladder slips, you’ll immediately go down,” said Whiddon. “Three feet over gives you time to react, and I’ve certainly saved myself that way.”
And don’t forget to be mindful of where you plug in your lights, to avoid electrical mishaps.
“If you’re going Griswold style and using a lot of lights, use multiple outlets so you’re not connected to the same circuit,” said Trees.
Photos courtesy of Josh Trees.