7 Christmas Lighting & Decorating Hacks that Will Save You Time
Around Christmas time, ‘tis the season for cheer and generosity. But also, it’s the season for hectic schedules and mile long to-do lists. Many of us feel a constant strain to get everything done, whether it’s baking cookies, shopping for gifts, enjoying family and friends, and of course… decorating.
And while everyone enjoys the splendor of Christmas lights and décor, it can take a lot of time to get everything set up each year. During the holidays, many people find themselves working late hours and extra shifts, juggling Christmas plays, attending office parties, and frantically shopping their way through gift lists. All at once.
Luckily, there are many ways you can save time when lighting and decorating your home for Christmas this year. We have a few tips and tricks to share that you probably haven’t thought about when it comes to your Christmas decorations. With some of our helpful suggestions on products and techniques, we’re here to save you some serious time when it comes to decorating this season.
1. Christmas trees: wrapping vertically trunk-to-tip instead of a horizontal spiral
When it comes to wrapping lights around outdoor evergreens and Christmas trees, a large majority of people prefer to wrap their lights in horizontal spirals around the tree. The light string travels all the way around the tree with every wrap, moving up towards the top.
Unbeknownst to many, this is actually a more complicated, time-consuming method of lighting your Christmas tree. The minutes add up when you must maneuver the string all the way around the tree for each wrap. And when wrapping wider tree such as an outdoor evergreen, you have to circle the whole way around the tree, avoiding obstacles such as walls, other trees and obstructions in your path.
Wrapping your tree lights vertically can help save you time during installation. This method is preferred by the decorators at New York City’s Rockefeller Center, who work on lighting one of the most famous Christmas trees in the country. David Murback, manager of the gardens division, says this method offers “not just a shell of light but an inner glow and a three-dimensionality that cannot be achieved any other way.”
Start by sectioning your tree into thirds. Apply lights from trunk to tip, carefully weaving the lights inside and outside the branches. Be mindful of establishing light spacing along the tree. Once your tree is lit, you will be positioned back at the bottom of the tree. This will give you more control with managing excess lights and lighting the back of the tree.
2. Use TreE-Z wraps on your outdoor trees, columns and bannisters
The easiest way to speed up light wraps for your outdoor trees, poles and columns is to use a few TreE-Z wraps. Thin yet sturdy, these handy plastic strips are designed to sit along your surface and grip the light strings with their “teeth.” By looping the light strings around the TreE-Z wrap and working your way up the tree, you don’t have to spend time circling the trunk and spacing out the wraps. The teeth provide spacing to keep the lights strung evenly along the tree trunk. Not only will the TreE-Z wraps secure your lights in place, but they will provide additional support against weather and foot traffic from squirrels. Because trust us… nothing’s worse than having to replace lights mid-season due to rodents.
3. Use plug-and-go products with no wrapping required
Using string lights around your yard can create an enchanting scene, but it takes time to apply the lights around foliage and get plugs and timers all set up. But there are many different light displays that simply hang without any wrapping involved. Using LED decorations such as snowflakes, folding spheres and starlight spheres will save you time when installing lights outdoors. Simply use a sticky hook on windows, eye hooks along your roofline, a screw into brick, or a zip tie for tree branches, fences or gates. In case your yard lacks trees or shrubs, flat displays like snowflakes and foldable spheres can be hung on the sides of buildings and walls.
Rope light snowflakes
Adding a winter wonderland touch, LED snowflakes are a very versatile addition to outdoor home displays, buildings and HOA entrances.
As they collapse flat for storage, LED foldable spheres are hollow, resistant to wind and weather, and add a real spectacular finish along trees. Foldable spheres look great as a filler for hollow light trees too.
These bright orbs are particularly dazzling when hanging from trees. They remind us of ornaments and snow globes.
Wreaths with battery operated lights
We recommend using a 24” wreath for home doorways along with some battery-operated 5mm conical lights. On the side of a home, fence or gate, 36" or larger would look best.
4. Using attachment accessories and leaving them on your light sockets after season
When applying C7 or C9 lights and light line to your roof and yard, accessories like stakes and lights clips help keep your lights tight and straight. But another huge benefit from using accessories is that they make installation and takedown much easier and faster. There’s no need to drill holes or mess with a glue gun upon installation, nor is there the need to remove staples once the season’s over.
Once you add stakes to each socket the first time using them, you can leave them on, and they’ll be ready to go for next year’s installation. And many of our clips are designed to be used the same way by holding onto the socket with the bulb, such as flex clips, tuff clips, circle clips, and shingle tabs. Attachment accessories also make the takedown process so much faster. With clips and stakes tightly secured to every socket, a gentle tug to the light line will free it from the roof or the ground.
We also recommend labeling your light runs so it’s easy to remember where they go next year. Check out our takedown video for best practices on storing your lights, so they’re quick to set back up next year.
5. Magnetic light line
Any type of light clip will help speeding up your installation and uninstallation process. But if you have a ferrous metal fence, roofline or gutter, you can skip the clip and use Lite-netics magnetic light line. This empty socket light line features a strong metal inside every socket- no clip needed. The light line adheres directly to any magnetic surface, so if you're lucky to have a ferrous metal fence or roof, magnetic empty socket line will work for you.
In addition to installation, magnetic light line is also a breeze for straightening the wire in a pinch. Tug the line gently to pull the line taught, making the bulbs perfectly spaced.
6. Lower light solutions
Lighting a roofline is our favorite way to decorate a home with Christmas lights. But it requires roof access, time, and risks involving heights and ladders. Not everybody has the capacity to hang Christmas lights along their roof or hire a pro for the job. So when you need to save time and simplify your outdoor Christmas lights, think of a design that highlights the lower areas of opportunity in your yard.
Hedges and shrubs are some of the easiest and quickest applications for Christmas lights. We prefer string lights for a professional and scattered look, but net lights will make the job even quicker. If you have some time before the season hits, consider planting some small shrubs that will later serve as Christmas light canvases. Shrubs are excellent for accenting the best parts of your yard, filling in flower bed gaps, and they’re incredibly easy to wrap.
So if you have a few months to plan ahead, plant some evergreen shrubs around your front yard bed. they will be ideal canvases for Christmas lights.
Columns and branch trees are great surfaces for spiral wraps with string lights. Spiral wraps take more time and require more product. This is especially true for wider tree trunks, as well as elements located farther away from the power source.
7. Use pro-grade Christmas lights and decorations
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again… the BEST way to save time decorating for the holidays is to use pro grade lights and supplies. In the long run, investing in commercial quality Christmas decorations will save you time by avoiding the problems caused by inferior products. You can expect less troubleshooting during installation, electrical management, and light bulb/string replacements. You can also expect longer-lasting products since many commercial grade decorations (such as bows and ornaments) have UV coating, offering protection against sun damage and fading.
Trust us… the last thing you want to do is replace bulbs and deal with faulty light strings, falling lights or power outages in the middle of the season. Professional light strings such as Pro Christmas with sealed construction provide excellent durability against wind, water, snow, dirt, and other corrosive winter weather.
What’s a Christmas enthusiast supposed to do when there’s little-to-no time to decorate? By simplifying your design, investing in commercial quality decorations that plug-and-go, and employing some techniques, you can make Christmas lighting easier and less time consuming this year. Don’t forget to check out our YouTube channel for helpful tricks, installation tutorials and education on best practices for Christmas lighting. We're here to help you make the best of your Christmas season, so reach out via phone or email with any questions you have.