On a cold winter’s night there’s nothing quite like adding a bit of sparkle with some outdoor lights. Decorating for the holidays is a chance to let loose and spread cheer, and many of us are turning to the outdoors to show our spirit (and perhaps beat the neighbors at decorating). The only issue is: just how do you get them up that big tree?
To hang lights on a big outdoor tree, the first thing you want to do is grab a ladder and a friend. The ladder is so you can reach the top of the tree, and the friend is so you can reach the top of the tree safely.
The next step is deciding how many lights you need for the tree. To do this, measure the circumference of the tree trunk, and the height of the tree (it’s okay to estimate). Divide the height of the tree by the distance you want between your lights, typically 2-3 inches, and then multiply by the circumference. For wide-reaching branches, measure these separately. If you have a pine tree which has a straighter up and down, measure the average circumference.
Before you get to work, picture how you want the tree to look. Not every branch needs to be covered for a vibrant effect. You want to have made these decisions before you’re halfway up. Stand back and see how much of your tree is visible for passersby. This will give you a better idea of where to decorate.
Check the lights are suitable for outdoor use, and plug them in to see that they’re all working. We recommend LED lights for energy efficiency, with connectable strands so you can alter the length. Before you start decorating, untangle any lights and wrap the cords neatly into a circle. This can be unraveled as you work upwards.
Lay an extension cord along the ground to the base of the trunk, and secure with tape so no one trips. Plug the end of the lights into the extension cord. Now, you’re ready to start wrapping.
Start by wrapping up the trunk. To ensure even spacing, use your hand. The lights should be around 4 fingers to a palm width apart, depending on how tight a wrap you want and the size of your hands. You want as even wrapping as you can, for the best effect.
Now you need to start wrapping the limbs. At this point, you’ll need the ladder. As with the trunk, start at the base and work up. Leave double the space between each winding as you did on the trunk. On the way back down the limb, wrap to fill in these gaps. Not every branch needs to be covered. Ask your helpful friend to turn the lights on occasionally so you can get the effect.
When everything’s wrapped, you need to secure the end of the light. The best way to do so is either with electrical tape, twine, or string. Avoid metal wire as this can cause shocks or even fire if it cuts through the wire installation. You may need to secure some lights along the way up. Again, use electrical tape or string.
Then step back, and enjoy!
For safety, never connect more than three light strands to a single extension cord. Never decorate in adverse weather conditions. Always work with the help of someone. Always use a ladder, don’t climb the tree itself.
How can I hang lights outside without an outlet?
There’s nothing quite like a tree full of Christmas lights to bring the holiday cheer. Unfortunately, many of us are hindered in our decorating by the lack of outdoor outlets. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to give up winter wonderland. There are adaptations.
If you want to hang lights outside without an outlet, the best thing to do is look for lights that don’t require an outlet. For the outdoors, there are two main options: solar-powered lights, and battery operated lights.
Battery operated string lights are easy to find, and they come in a variety. These can be hung from trees, although you may need more than a few strands. Be sure to hang the lights in a way that the battery packs are easily accessible.
The main issue with these lights are the batteries running out. That’s why it’s so important for you to be able to reach them. Although they should last for some time, it’s better to be prepared over spending an evening trying to find where you hid a battery pack on a tree.
Many outdoor Christmas decorations will be battery operated, so you can really get festive.
Solar-powered lights are another fantastic option, and do come in string lights. These will absorb the sun during the day, so they can shine through the evening.
However, if you want to hang Christmas lights then these may not be the best option. Due to the shortened daylight hours of winter, there’s no guarantee how long the lights will stay bright for.
Rechargeable outdoor lights are also available, but very rarely in string lighting. If you want outdoor lights for a summer party then these are a good option. For Christmas decorations, it’s better to look for battery options.
With any type of lighting, be sure to check that it’s suitable for outdoor use.
If you have wired lights, and you’re unwilling to change, then the options are limited. Battery powered outlets are the easiest option, and the safest. You can try running the cord inside the house to an outlet, via an open window. Of course, this lets cold air in, and can only be operated when you’re at home for safety reasons.
The final option is to install an outdoor outlet. This can be done by ‘tapping’ into outlets that are inside. A qualified electrician is the best person to consult about doing this. It’s more effort, but presents a long term solution.