Holiday Lighting Tips

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If you are ready to channel your inner Clark Griswold, you should keep these excellent planning and safety tips from Yahoo! Homes in mind-they may help you avoid electrocuting the family cat or send lawn ornaments airborne!

Create a master plan

Look at your house from the street or take a photograph to make an overall plan. First, consider adding lights along eaves, pillars, posts, windows and doors to highlight architectural features. Next, look at bushes, trees, window boxes and planters. Finally, check out lighting for paths as well as stand-alone figures.

Find balance

“Everyone gravitates toward the roofline and they forget to balance it with something below,” says Mike Marlow of Holiday Bright Lights, a national chain that provides professional holiday lighting for homes and business. “It’s like interior design. You might have something on your room’s walls, but you need something on the shelves and the end tables too.”

Consider the backyard

Why should the front yard have all the fun? “We’re seeing people decorate behind the house,” Mike adds. “It makes sense because they see the backyard more than the front.”

Measure

Try to get a realistic measure of how many lights you’ll use. One way to determine lighting for trees is to multiply the height by the width and then double that figure to get the square footage.

Assess

Check to make sure your lights and cords are in good repair and rated for outdoor use. Read manufacturer recommendations to determine the number of lights you can safely string together. Never connect different types of lights on the same circuit or outlet.

Power up

Outdoor lights should be plugged into circuits protected by ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). To avoid running cords everywhere, try power stakes — portable devices that bring power where you need it.

Choose plastic

Trade in your hammer and nails for plastic clips that safely secure lighting to walls.

Stay safe

Work with a partner or hang a bucket with an S hook to your ladder to hold supplies. When possible, use an extension pole to keep your feet on the ground. Finally, don’t decorate trees that touch power lines.