Texas Living

How to Hang Christmas Lights Like a Pro

By James Mayfield 12.5.13

Like a lot of families, when it comes to the holidays, we have annual traditions. This includes putting ornaments on the tree, baking and decorating gingerbread houses, and watching favorite holiday movies like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

One of the best scenes from this festive film is of family patriarch Clark Griswold putting up the lights on his home. Griswold’s ladder mishaps and never-ending battle with lights that just won’t well, light, make him a shining example of the wrong way to decorate for the season.

Don’t get caught reenacting Griswold’s decking debacles over the holidays (i.e., gloves stapled to roofs) and follow these tips on how to hang Christmas lights like a pro:


“My first tip would be to have the right equipment,” says Bill Amos, owner of 911 Custom Christmas Lights. “This includes ladders and any tools you may need.”

It’s also always good to have an extra box of clips on hand. You don’t want to get halfway through the job and realize you’ve run out of the little items essential to connecting the lights to the house.


Before even setting foot on a ladder, map out your lighting strategy on paper first. Do you have a long enough extension cord to reach the outlet? Do you have enough lights to cover the parts of the house you want to illuminate? Having a plan is especially helpful if this is your first time stringing lights on a particular home.


Plug in the lights and test them before hanging them on the house. It’s much easier to replace a bulb that way. “I would also suggest not adding more strands together than what the boxes say,” Amos says. “And find out how much wattage that you’re going to need so don’t overload a circuit.”


“The most important thing is to be safe and take your time when on ladders,” says Amos. “Make sure you always work with a partner.”

Take down

Yes, there are those who leave their lights up year-round. But when you do take them down, make sure to keep them organized. One trick is to take a rectangular piece of a cardboard box and “spool” the lights around the piece like you would a garden hose. It keeps the strands from getting tangled and you can just roll them out when you’re ready for next season.

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