How to Hang Outdoor Christmas Lights Like a Pro

Anyone can string up some Christmas lights, but you aren't just anyone. Follow our tips to become the envy of your neighbors and leave them wondering how you made your house look like it's straight out of a Christmas movie.

how to hang Christmas lights

Classic Home With Beautiful Christmas Lights Lining the Roof

With a little planning and the tips below, you can hang Christmas lights like a pro.

Photo by: Cassidy Garcia

Cassidy Garcia

With a little planning and the tips below, you can hang Christmas lights like a pro.

Ever driven past a house that’s fully decked out for Christmas and wondered how the owner achieved such a beautiful feat? Not to mention — how could they afford so many Christmas lights? Truth is, with a few simple tips and tricks, lighting up your entire house with Christmas lights can be both easy and affordable. You just need to know a few insider tricks, so we’ve taken the time to share our best tips to help you have the most lit holiday house on your block.

Hang Outdoor Lights
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1. Measure Before You Buy

Before you load up your shopping cart with boxes and boxes of Christmas lights, determine how many feet you'll need (Image 1). Be sure to account for every spot you plan to illuminate, measuring spiraling locations, like front porch columns, using string (Images 2 & 3). Don’t forget to measure the distance to your nearest grounded outdoor outlet and plan accordingly. Need help deciding on lights? See our picks for best outdoor Christmas lights.

2. Make a Diagram

To help yourself remember your plans once it’s time to hang the lights, make a diagram showing your measurements. Use this to calculate the materials needed using this equation: distance/6 = number of lights needed. This works for strands with 6-inch spacing, which we recommend using to achieve a fuller look.

Plans for Installing Exterior Christmas Lights

Making Plans for Installing Christmas Lights on Home Exterior

These plans are for a home's exterior Christmas lights to aid in the installation and measuring process. When cutting lengths from bulk spools of string lights, drawing out plans is a necessity.

Photo by: Cassidy Garcia

Cassidy Garcia

3. Buy Bulk Socket Lines Online

Buying bulk socket lines online rather than stringing together standard lights will save you money and offer a level of customization that is otherwise not achievable. With bulk lines, you simply cut off your desired length using wire cutters, make the male and female ends using vampire plugs and then screw in the bulbs (Images 1 to 3). Choose between C7 and C9 bulk socket lines or opt for a combo, but be sure to buy varying bulb sizes in the same color temperature for consistency. As you cut and assemble all your lines, label with clear tape to aid in future installation. Most importantly, be sure to test your lines before you go to the trouble of hanging them.

4. Hang Lights

Time to hang some lights! The best way to create a fully illuminated look is to work from the top down. Safety first: Before climbing the ladder, get someone to spot you and securely hold the ladder to prevent any shifting (Image 1). On roof lines, use universal clips to fasten lights under shingles and onto gutters (Image 2). For more difficult areas like cement and brick chimneys, hot glue will effectively hold the lights in place. This tip works for metal surfaces as well; just secure the lines with painter’s tape until the hot glue hardens (Image 3). Where appropriate, wrap lights and greenery together to pack a double dose of Christmas cheer (Image 4). Lastly, secure garland and power cords with zip ties so they don’t stray or fall (Image 5).

5. Add Grounded Power Stakes

Before you plug the lights into just any outlet, take the safe route by placing a GFCI stake in the ground as your power source. These come in various sizes and many have the energy-saving option to place your lights on a timer.

A GFCI-Protected Power Stake in Mulch

Running Outdoor Power With a GFCI Ground Stake

This power stake is GFCI-protected to ensure safety when running Christmas lights or other outdoor power. The stake sticks in the mulch, offering power wherever the homeowner needs it.

Photo by: Cassidy Garcia

Cassidy Garcia

6. Wrap It Up

When following this guide, remember to adjust to your specific needs. Hanging Christmas lights looks different for every house and whatever works best for yours is sure to make the season bright!

Beautifully Decorated Home With Christmas String Lights

A Family Looks at Their Beautifully Decorated Home

This beautiful home is perfectly decorated with Christmas string lights. The custom-cut lights line the roof lines and windows, giving the home a quintessential festive look that is reminiscent of a gingerbread house. Silhouettes of the family are seen as they admire the home.

Photo by: Cassidy Garcia

Cassidy Garcia

More Advice & Inspiration

The Best Outdoor Christmas Lights to Make Your House Merry and Bright

We've rounded up the best sparkle and shine for your home's exterior.

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