Some mistakes are costly—others are dangerous. They make reaching success with your Christmas lighting install a challenge. So rather than deal with mistakes as they happen, why not avoid them altogether?

Whether it’s off-season decorating, or you’re putting together a holly jolly holiday masterpiece, you’ll be well on your way to creating your next sparkling spectacle when you take heed of these 10 Christmas lighting mistakes to avoid.

#1 – Going without Research

It’s only fitting to start this article with a point on research. After all, you’re doing a form of research by reading this blog! So you’re already on the right track.

A little bit of study goes a long ways in Christmas decorating. Without doing your research, you’ll be in the dark on what’s most relevant to making the holidays bright with lights. What are the top tools for putting up lighting like a pro? How can you save time when putting up lights and decorations? How should you light the perimeter of your home and roofline?

what kind of tools and supplies do I need for a Christmas light display

These are questions you’ll need the answers to when it’s time to decorate. Thankfully, the answers to these questions—and many more—can be found right here in our blog!

#2 – Running in without Planning

Preparation is essential to any smooth and successful Christmas lighting project—big or small. Planning gives you direction for where to start, what to do next, and how to wrap up. It helps you come up with your roadmap, budget, and supplies list.

Forming a plan can seem like a hassle, but it will save you from real hassle during the install. Envision the displays that you’ll feature around and outside your home. Think about any themes and coordination that you and your family would love to see. A flood of pure bright white for a majestic theme? Or how about the red and green mix that never fails to warm hearts during the holidays? Your only limit is your imagination!

awesome Christmas light ideas

Next, nail down a concrete budget and assess what you’ll need by measuring the perimeters and areas that you’ll be lighting up, such as your roofline and windows. Note the lengths, and draft a map of where you’ll be putting up lights with the lengths you’ve recorded.

Make a supply list within your budget, coordinate with someone who can help you during your install, and you’ve got yourself a plan!

awesome modern Christmas light displays

#3 – Starting Late

The install for any dazzling arrangement takes time. Putting off the project of putting up the lights only makes the install tougher as the weather gets colder—or eventful in the way of storms.

The best time to decorate is to decorate early. Temperatures are warmer, and the forecast contains a lot less predictions of the cold and snow that can make an install feel like work. So set a date well in advance of the holiday season and beat the bite of winter.

#4 – Decorating with Incandescent Lights

Incandescent lights are disappearing in favor of LED lights. And while most people are probably using LED Christmas lights by now, it’s probable that some holdouts remain in the incandescent camp.

Luckily, LED lights are an improvement over incandescent lights in every way possible, making the switch easy. LEDs are not only much more energy efficient.

#5 – Using Whatever for Tools & Equipment

Putting up Christmas lights is a serious task, which calls for serious gear. Gather the necessary equipment, such as a safety ladder, work shoes, and wire cutters. With the gear you need, gather the equipment for treating your lights like the investment that they are. Use equipment such as correct clips and extension cord that will help your LED Christmas lights shine on.

Christmas lighting clips and tools

Effective decorating means using the right tools and equipment for the job. But the above is just a sample of what you need to keep your next Christmas lighting install free of mistakes. Check out the rest in this list of these 12 must-have tools.

#6 - Buying Cheap Lights

Cutting costs on LED Christmas lights by choosing retail quality is a costly mistake. But how?

When you use less than pro grade lights, your results will end up looking low quality. From appearance to reactions, the results won’t be as satisfying as they could be.

Cheaper lights are also less durable. They’re more prone to fading and electrical failure. When lights take on these issues, they’ll need to be replaced. And replacement is costly. Speaking of replacement, it’s important to note that retail quality lights from big box stores are intended to last a mere 1 to 3 years, making replacement a common—and expensive—matter.

#7 – Going It Alone

If you’re into Do-It-Yourself, then this is probably not what you want to hear—but it’s something you need to hear.

Accidents happen. And they happen in the thousands because of holiday decorating according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Holiday decorating can be risky, especially with more ambitious installs, so it’s best to bring some backup. Have a friend, family member, or neighbor help you deck the halls—rather the outside of your home—by holding the ladder when you need it, and paying attention to make sure you’re okay during more adventurous install activity.

And it’s all the better if the person helping you out can do some decorating too!

#8 – Controlling Your Christmas Lighting Manually

This mistake leads to headache after headache: using too much energy because the lights are on too long; lights not being turned on at the right time because you’re not near; and the plain fact that you give yourself more work to do because you need to turn the lights on yourself.

Christmas light timers that help manage lights

A timer not only helps you save energy, but it also helps save you from the monotonous chore of having to turn your lights on every time. A Christmas Light Timer is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself this holiday season.

#9 - Being in the Dark about Your Power

Knowing about your electricity is key to a functional and safe Christmas lighting arrangement. And while dealing with the electrical side of lighting can be intimidating, the threat of tripping breakers, overheating connections, and even starting fires is far more intimidating.

Prevent the above issues by finding out how much power you need, and how much power draw your infrastructure can handle. Figure your electrical needs by calculating the power draw of your lights. If your light set doesn’t indicate wattage, measure the draw using a meter. We walk you through how to do that here.

reading the amperage and power draw of Christmas lights

And the most important question for building your dream arrangement—do I have the power that I need? Find out here.

#10 - Ignoring the Age of Your Lights

This mistake is easy to miss, but can make decorating hard. Without knowing how old your lights are, it becomes a challenge to know what you need to replace and when. Aging your lights also helps you decide which lights should be front and center based on how fresh they are.

The most convenient time to age your lights is when taking them down because each set is separated. Indicate the age of your sets by attaching a color-coded zip tie to each line, with different colors representing different ages (yellow = 1 year old, blue = 2 years old, etc.)

When you take the right steps, and avoid taking the wrong ones, success is practically guaranteed. If you have questions about Christmas lighting that we didn’t answer in this article, we’re happy to answer your questions directly. Send an email to or give a call at 1-800-391-5280 to get your questions answered today.