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How to Hang Christmas Lights

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It’s that special time of the year when we create holiday memories that last a lifetime. And while things might be slightly different this year in how you celebrate the holiday, you can still dress your home in festive splendor with twinkling Christmas lights.

If you’re looking to channel your inner Clark Griswold, we can help you learn how to hang Christmas lights.

Here’s what our guide covers: 

  • Choosing the right Christmas lights for your project
  • Ways to install outdoor Christmas lights
  • How to place Christmas lights on your tree

Choosing the right Christmas lights for your project

Like Kevin McAllister, you’ll want a plan of attack before beginning. Do you plan to hang Christmas lights only on your tree, or do you want to do some outside as well? Do you want single-colored lights or multi-colored? Planning helps you determine which lights you need. Moreover, as you shop, you will come across different kinds of holiday lights. Here are some of the differences between them.

Indoor lights vs. outdoor lights

Indoor lights can run cooler. Because of this, you would not want to use them outside where damaged lights could pose a fire risk. Moreover, because outdoor lights can run hotter, you will not want to use them inside, where they could overheat. To determine what kind of lights you have, check the UL listed tag. Indoor lights have the UL written in green, whereas outdoor lights have red writing. Some manufacturers have also designed strands of lights that can work indoors and out without any hazards.

Colored lights vs. white lights

Next, you want to decide if you want the classic white lights or the whimsical multi-colored ones. Also, keep in mind that if you blend bulb types, they can produce different colors. LED lights give off a bluish hue. Meanwhile, incandescent lights come off a bit more orange.

Depending on your design, color scheme, and where you place the lights, putting these next to each other will not match. So when you choose whether to go with colored lights or white, you should try to keep the bulbs uniform to achieve symmetry.

Mini lights vs. bulb lights

As part of your designing process, you’ll want to play around with different bulb types. Mini lights look good on wreaths, Christmas trees, and small spaces. Meanwhile, bulb lights command much more attention and look excellent nestled around a window, on the roof, or in bushes.

Happy Latin American family decorating the house for Christmas and hanging lights on the door - lifestyle concepts
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How to hang Christmas lights outside

If you’re unsure how to hang Christmas lights on the house, rest assured. If you follow these steps, you’ll be able to hang outdoor lights confidently. Make sure to take your time, recruit the help of a spotter, and have fun!

Step 1: Gather all of your supplies:

Before hanging Christmas lights, you want to gather all the items you need. It ensures the process runs smoothly.

You’ll need:

Step 2: Test your lights.

Even if you bought the lights brand new, you need to inspect them before putting them up.  Should you find any damaged ones, replace the bulbs.

Step 3: Apply light clips to your home’s shingles or gutter

After testing your lights, apply the light clips to your home’s shingles or gutter. To do this, make sure you have someone with you who can hold on to the ladder. You’ll want to set the ladder on a clean spot free of any ice or other debris.

Next, slide out the ladder until it locks in place, then climb to apply the light clips to the gutter or shingles. Make sure all light clips face the same way to achieve a uniform look.

After attaching all the strands, climb down the ladder, then plug them in to make sure each bulb works. If they do, bask in a job well done!

How to hang Christmas lights on your tree

The best way to hang Christmas lights on your tree is to be consistent with how you apply the lights. To help you achieve a wondrous glow that will elicit oohs and aahs, here are some steps to consider.

Step 1: Gather your supplies 

Hanging lights on Christmas trees do not require much in the way of supplies.

You’ll need:

  • At least a few strands of indoor Christmas lights. (Rule of thumb: Apply one strand of lights for every foot of your Christmas tree. So, a 6-foot tree would require six strands.)
  • A surge protector if you plan to hang multiple strands
  • A small ladder or step stool if you have a taller tree

Step 2: Test your lights

Before hanging them, you want to test and inspect each strand of lights to ensure each bulb works correctly and none have damage. If you notice one out, replace it before hanging up the rest.

Step 3: Run the lights through your tree

You want to intertwine the lights on top and between the branches for a layered look. Work from side to side, moving up or down, depending on where you began. And if you have a few remaining lights left over, you can tuck them into the back.

Step 4: Plugin and marvel

If you do not have the lights plugged in, do so to see how they look. You can work with the strands you have in or add more to fill in the gaps where there are not as many lights.

How much does it cost to have someone hang your Christmas lights?

The cost depends on a variety of factors like how large your home is and how detailed of a display you want. The Home Depot estimates a traditional display can run you between $100-$300, while if you want something more ornate or you have a much larger home, the costs can balloon to over $1,000.

The bottom line

Decorating your home and tree is a fun way to get into the holiday mood. By following the steps outlined in our guide, you can find the correct holiday lights for your display and install them safely. From there, you can bask in the holiday glow of your tree and home.

Frequently asked questions


How can I install Christmas lights outside without using nails?


You can use all-purpose light clips that hang on to gutters and shingles.


How do you get Christmas lights to stick to the wall?


You want to use plastic hooks that offer an easy removal tab. Doing so allows for convenient application and removal after the holidays pass.


How do you stick Christmas lights to brick?


You will want to use brick clips to install holiday lights on brick surfaces.

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