Christmas Lights, clean, simple, classy (Part 1)

By Allyn Paul, filed under Christmas Lights.

How to Put Up Holiday Lights!

STOP! See this entire series on a video I just made for ya’ll. It is 20 minutes long and very detailed, but teachs you how to put up your lights. Click the title below…

How To Put Up Christmas Lights Video


It’s that time of year men (and ladies). It’s the time when we go all out in the unwritten, unsponsored, but extremely important competition to out-do the neighbors with holiday spirit … we do this, of course, with outdoor Christmas decorations and lighting.
In this post, part 1, I will explain some of the basic materials and preparation, as well as my own philosophy in the matter.
Introduction to the “runway” look:
I am not a fan of sloppy, floppy, multi-colored-1980s-looking Christmas lighting. I prefer my outdoor lighting display to be clean, neat, well-ordered, methodical and classy. My setup is made completely using C7 (medium-sized) clear lights. Each C7 Christmas light is evenly spaced and laid out logically so as to keep power cords and plugs hidden from view. In short, I want my display to be “tight,” and not look like an old, burned out Ferris wheel at a strip-mall parking lot carnival. Interestingly enough, my method also makes putting up and taking down the display much easier year after year.
Definition of the “runway” look:
I’m not sure if I am the first to ever use this term, but I’ll take credit nonetheless. The name indicates that your display will be well defined like the outline of an aircraft runway. Every light is exactly spaced and straight. This creates a very classy appearance. (visuals coming in parts 2 and 3)
Supplies needed.
(1) 10 sets of C7 clear lights. The best place to get them is online suppliers where they are about $5 per set.
(2) 4 packs of stake clips and 6 packs of ’shingle and gutter’ clips.
(3) 4 extension cords (50 ft each in green)
(4) 2, 3-plug solar-sensing outlets with on/off timers. These save you from having to trek out in the cold at night before bed to turn the lights off.

The above supplies will cover most houses, front and sides. This basic setup is designed to highlight your roof-lines and your bed-lines on the ground. (4 sets for the ground, and 6 sets for the roof.) The cost of these supplies is around $155 total. Keep in mind that it’s a one-time investment that will last several years.
Layout and planning.
Here is where you can save yourself some bigtime headaches. Preparing a good plan keeps you from having to remove and re-position clips while you are up on the roof. It will also help you make the most of your extension cords and power source.
(1) Make a generic drawing (bird’s eye view) of your property with some basic measurements. Identify your power source (hopefully at the rear of the house) as well as where your solar power strips will be, and how your cords will run to them. Also keep in mind that you can only string 4 or sets together or you will blow fuses (see instructions on box) This will effect the way your layout your lights.

(2) attach clips to lights. For the stake clips on the ground, attach them whichever way you want, just do every light the same. Important: every light gets its own clip. We do not want any sags in the line. For the roof and gutter clips, you need to go outside and visualize how the clips will attach to the roof. Do you want your light facing up or down?

You also need to decide where to start and if the starting end will begin with the male connector or female connector. It helps to go on the roof and place a few clips to see your options because clip positioning varies depending upon if you start your strand with the male end vs the female end. Once again, with the roof line lights, every light gets a clip … no skipping!

(3) gently tighten all the lights in their sockets as you attach the clips.

You can get great pricing and selection on holiday lighting and display here.

Next, move on to Part 2

14 Responses to “Christmas Lights, clean, simple, classy (Part 1)”

  1. Bonds756 Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    Very Very interesting read! Cant wait for part 2!

  2. Christmas Lights: clean, simple, classy (Part 2) | Life and Lawns Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    [...] time to put our lights in the yard and on the roof! Isn’t this exciting? In part 1, we went over the philosophy behind clean, neat and classy Christmas decorations, as well as [...]

  3. Christmas Lights, clean, simple, classy | Life and Lawns Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    [...] Christmas Lights: clean, simple, classy (Part 3) By Allyn Paul, filed under Christmas Lights. This is the final post of a 3-part series on putting up Christmas lights. You can begin by reading part 1here. [...]

  4. Putting Up Christmas Lights | Life and Lawns Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    [...] time to put our lights in the yard and on the roof! Isn’t this exciting? In part 1, we went over the philosophy behind clean, neat and classy Christmas decorations, as well as [...]

  5. Christmas Lights, clean, simple, classy | Life and Lawns Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    [...] Christmas Lights: clean, simple, classy (Part 3) By Allyn Paul, filed under Christmas Lights. This is the final post of a 3-part series on putting up Christmas lights. You can begin by reading part 1here. [...]

  6. Joe Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    Not sure I understand how many ‘packs’ of C7 lights to purchase. I need about 250 feet to line the roof. Should I purchase the 25′, 50′, or 100′ commercial light strings or the C7 pre-lamped sets? My roof line is also split up with several peaks – meaning it’s not just one solid run.

  7. Allyn Paul Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    Hey Joe,
    For me, I buy the cheap, 25′ light strings, pre-bulbed online. C7 lights are what I use, but I don’t buy the commercial sets
    Also, you should buy 300 ft for your roof line to start and you can always go back and get more if you need them.
    If you are looking for a very very custom look, then you can get the commercial ones that you cut and string up youself. In that case, 400 feets would be recommended to leave room for goofs and mistakes.

  8. Allyn Paul Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    ALso-Joe, there is a solid run if you look. Every roof has a roofline and you want to follow that whether there is a peak, a straight run of gutter, or whatever.
    AL

  9. robert clark Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    I always thought the bulbs should be facing down to avoid water from getting into the sockets?

  10. Allyn Paul Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    Hi Robert,
    I have never had a problem with water causing any shorts or anything like that and we get a lot of ice and snow here.
    AL

  11. David Says:
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    How do you put lights on gutters with screens screwed on

  12. Allyn Paul Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    Hi David,
    great question. the answer is that you can’t.
    I personally don’t think those gutter screens do any good anyway, but that is my opinion.
    sorry I couldn’t be of more help,
    AL

  13. Bill Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    How do you install christmas lights on cement tile roofs? Anyone know? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance…

  14. Allyn Paul Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    Hey Bill,
    Wow man, I have to say you have me stumped on this one. I have installed lights on slate tile roofs before and I was able to find enough gap to slide the clips under.
    If you are talking about the kind of cement tiles like on the Spanish architecture homes in FLorida then I really am not able to offer any advice.
    sorry about that,
    AL

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