The Home Improvement Web Happy Holidays

Christmas Light and Exterior Holiday Decorating

"Before bounding off to the store to buy the latest animated light sculpture, measure the area that you plan to decorate."

Outdoor Holiday Decorating and Planning Tips Yule Love

One of our favorite Christmas Light displays (turn on your speakers)


(ARA) - Ba Humbug, hanging the holiday lights. Dealing with those jumbled balls of tiny twinklers is enough to turn anyone into Scrooge. However, despite the obvious frustrations of decorating with lights, when it comes to outdoor holiday displays for the home, the reality is Americans are more passionate than ever about illuminating the exteriors of their homes. In fact, they spent a whopping $7.6 billion buying decorations and lights last year to enhance their Christmas celebrations.

Believe it or not, many of the devoted creators of those glistening winter wonderlands we all stare at in amazement are already beginning to lay out their plans of attack. Still, even if you're not looking to outdo your neighbors with 10,000 multicolored outdoor lights shaped into a giant Santa Claus, now is the ideal time to begin preparing for your very own colorful outdoor holiday display.

According to Mark Kalinowski, former director of engineering for the Good Housekeeping Institute, "the popularity of DIY home improvement projects has spawned a renewed interest in outdoor seasonal decorating and more consumers are starting to plan months ahead. Not to mention, many of them prefer to take advantage of moderate seasonal temperatures and begin decorating projects before frigid weather sets in."

Kalinowski goes on to say that following a few simple steps now can help you avoid hours of frustration later.

Sketch Out Your Plans

Before bounding off to the store to buy the latest animated light sculpture, measure the area that you plan to decorate. Size up your front yard and decide what decorations you want and where you'd like to place them. Instead of trying to light your entire front yard, focus on two or three things, such as trees or bushes that serve as focal points. Taking a more systematic approach will prevent you from having to move items around later.

Take Inventory

Once a plan has been established, take inventory of what you already have. Make sure your outdoor lights and ornaments are in working order. Check for burned-out bulbs and replace them, as they'll drain electricity from the entire string of lights and ultimately make the other bulbs dimmer. Also, look for frayed cords, and don't forget to test outdoor electrical receptacles. If you spot a problem now, you'll have plenty of time to fix it before the holiday rush.

Tools of The Trade

"Today, outdoor holiday decorating has become so popular that some consumers are spending thousands of dollars to hire professionals to complete the jobs for them," says Kalinowski. "If you're not one of the lucky few who can afford such a service, consider investing in some unique, time-saving products that can make your holiday decorating easier."

For example, rather than struggling with dozens of extension cords every few feet, take advantage of a relatively new innovation on the market -- the patented Electra Trac Power Distribution Cord from NEXTEP. This unique multi-outlet extension cord comes with either three or six inline outlets spaced every eight feet along the length of the cord. Not only does it make outdoor decorating easier and more convenient, but it's also much safer because there are fewer cords and unused outlets are protected from the elements. It comes in 25-foot and 5-foot lengths so you don't have to worry that decorations are placed near existing receptacles. Available in green, it blends easily with trees and shrubs and Christmas decorations and can be found at leading hardware stores, such as Lowes, in time for the holidays.

If you're buying new lights this year, look into strands with built-in timers or consider buying a connecting timing device. This will eliminate the hassle of remembering to turn off the lights and will also save energy.

Also, don't forget about clean up. When it's time to break down the front yard decorations there are plenty of innovative storage systems available. These products allow you to simply roll up strands of lights, much like a garden hose holder, so next year you won't have to fight with tangles.

Finally, even with these tips and products, if you still feel you need a little extra help with outdoor decorating, call your friends and family and invite them over for an old-fashioned light stringing party. Not only will it put you in the holiday spirit, but your decorating job is sure to be completed within a few hours, leaving you plenty of time to start your shopping list and check it twice!

For more information about timesaving electrical "helpers" that can ease the challenge of holiday decorating and other everyday household tasks, visit

Note: This article was submitted by a second party and the contents are subject to our disclaimer.

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