How to Hang Christmas Lights

It’s time to get ready for the holiday season! Hanging Christmas lights before all the shopping, baking and visits from the in-laws means you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy your incredible Christmas lights display, and all the compliments! Before you start, take note of these easy outdoor lighting tricks. We'll show you how to hang Christmas lights and get your house looking merry and bright.

Few Hours
Less Than $500

What You Need for This Project

Plan Your Design

Before you start, it's best to take a step back and develop an overall game plan. Resist the urge to "wing it." If you follow these points you’ll be well on your way! 

Choose a Focal Point 

Pick an area of the exterior of your home you want to serve as the focus. This can be your front door, columns that frame your entryway, or the garage. If you don’t have a focal point, the design of your lights can become muddled. 

Consider the Surface 

Check your gutter thickness and shingle flexibility to determine how to best hang lights along the roof-line.

Some popular spots for outdoor Christmas lights include:

  • Along your rooflines or eaves
  • Atop bushes, hedges, and trees
  • Around pillars, posts, or deck railings
  • Around windows, door frames, and other architectural features
  • Near driveways and pathways
  • Inside window boxes and planters

Measure any straight line you want to adorn with lights. This will help you determine how many lights you need. Be sure to add 10 ft. for any awning. Also, measure the distance to your power source. No one wants a beautiful light display with no way to turn it on!

How Many Lights Do I Need? 

The number of lights you'll need to decorate trees and shrubs is a matter of personal preference. A good rule of thumb is 100 lights for every 1-1/2-ft of tree or shrub you want to cover. So, a 6-ft evergreen needs at least 400 lights for a basic level of lighting.

Light Spacing

If you want to make a big statement with your lights, stagger two sets of lights side-by-side or look for lights that are spaced closer together. Denser lights are brighter!

Prepare Your Lights

Safety First

Use UL approved extension cords specific for outdoor use and look for lights rated for indoor/outdoor use. Check the Christmas lights package for this, the lighted length and how many strands to connect.

Check your Lights 

Frayed or damaged cords can be huge safety hazard, so be sure to triple check your Christmas light cords before you start installing. 

Light Colour 

White lights are not all the same colour. LEDs typically have a bluish tint, whereas incandescent bulbs are slightly orange. If you hang them side-by-side, they will look mismatched. Lights can even vary based on manufacturer or age, so test first to make sure the colours are what you want! 

Light Clips 

Forget staples, clothespins or anything else you’ve used in the past for mounting lights to your house. Light clips are your new best friend! They can work with every surface – just check the package to find the ones that fit with your home. 

Light Types 

There are tons of different light types and colours – so have fun with them! Just make sure you group the same light-type together. For example, try using white lights on your bushes, but coloured lights on your trees and entryway. Top it off with white icicle lights along your roofline.

  • LEDs will save you money on energy costs and you don’t have to worry about them overheating.
  • Icicle lights look great on the eaves of your roof – just make sure to cluster them together for the biggest impact.
  • For your bushes, try net lights. These are like a blanket of lights. Simply lay them on your bushes or shrubs. Easy!

Learn more about lights in our Christmas Lights Buying Guide

Note: Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines in regard to safety instructions, care and maintenance, and use to be on the safe side.

Some Final Prep

Before you install your outdoor Christmas lights, decide what you're going to work on first and gather everything together. This is where having a helper comes in handy. Start with bushes, then trees, any windows, the doors, and finally the roofline.

Tip: Step back as you go and make sure everything is shaping up the way you want it.

How to Hang Christmas Lights

  1. 1

    Test Your Lights

    It is important to check your lights! New or old, they still need to be tested – on the ground. You won’t want to find out your lights are not working on top of a ladder in the cold. 

    If they pass the test attach your light clips, making sure they're all in the same direction.
  2. Steps:

  1. 2

    Hang Lights from Trees & Shrubs

    Following the manufacturer’s instructions, hang net lights from your shrubs or bushes. 

    When it comes to trees, you can use a ladder to hang string lights. An alternative option is a light-hanging pole. Hanging poles are also great if you don't want to get on a ladder, because they can get to those hard-to-reach places. 
  2. Steps:

Tree covered in Christmas lights in-front of small home
Woman installing net lights to shrub
  1. 3

    Attach Lights to Railings

    Using string lights or rope lights, wrap lights around your porch railings. 
  2. Steps:

  1. 4

    Attach Lights to Gutters or Shingles

    To attach lights to your gutters, use light clips. You can hang your lights either pointing upwards or down – just ensure they’re clipped-in facing the same direction. 

    If you don't have gutters, you can use the same clip to attach lights to your shingles instead.
  2. Steps:

String lights hanging from roof
Icicle lights hanging from gutter
  1. 5

    Set a Timer

    Now that the lights are up, plug them into an outdoor timer. This will help manage how much energy your Christmas lights are using. Some timers even have light sensors that automatically turn on at dusk! 
  2. Steps:

  1. 6

    Flip the Switch

    Stand back and admire your work. Go grab yourself a cup of hot chocolate – you’ve earned it!
  2. Steps:

How To Terms

Tools, products, materials, techniques, building codes, and local regulations change; therefore, Lowe's assumes no liability for omissions, errors, or the outcome of any project. The reader must always exercise reasonable caution, follow current codes and regulations that may apply, and is urged to consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures.

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