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Christmas Lights: Types, Tips, and Ideas

Updated on September 7, 2011
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Almost everyone loves Christmas lights. Tips, tricks, and ideas can inspire your creativity and help you create a unique Christmas light display both in and outside your home.

In any given neighborhood in the United States you will find numerous examples of Christmas light displays popping up during the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Depending on the area of the country, the neighborhood, and the people involved you may see everything from lavish displays with thousands of twinkling lights to a single conservative string along the eaves of the house. With Christmas lights there is no real right or wrong, and you are only limited by your imagination, you budget, and your personal restraint.

While the use of candles and lights predates the Christian celebration of Christmas, they have been embraced by Christians everywhere during the Holiday season to represent the birth of Christ, the Light of the World. Whether used on the family tree, or in an intricate design in the yard Christmas lights are a tradition that is enthusiastically embraced year after year.

Christmas light display in Lisbon via SXC
Christmas light display in Lisbon via SXC

Choose the Type of Light

There are a number of types of lights to choose from. Some of these include:

  • White
  • Colored
  • Twinkling
  • Chasers
  • Clear
  • Blinking
  • LED
  • Solar

Some lights have many bulbs on the same wire and if one goes out they all go out. Others, often more expensive, are designed to continue to work when one light goes out. While the second type is more expensive it does save time and frustration especially if you use a lot of holiday light decorations.

Look for light strings that have a male plug at one end and a female receptacle at the other. This makes it much more convenient to create long strings for larger trees and roof lines.

About LED Christmas Lights

LED Christmas lights use much less electricity and last longer than the mini lights that have been used for the past 30 years. They are initially more expensive than the mini-lights but since they last so much longer and save money on electric bills they are more frugal over all. Other benefits include:

  • They will last up to 100,000 hours

  • 90 percent more energy efficient

  • Rust proof

  • Almost impossible to break

  • Cool to the touch

If you want to do a large light display LED lights are the best way to go.

Tips and Ideas for Decorating with Christmas Lights

There always seems to be a house or two in every neighborhood that creates incredible Christmas displays. It can be your house if you follow these tips.

  • Start looking in magazines and on the Internet for images that you like. Print them off or tear them out and keep a file. After you have acquired several begin to really look at them. What is it about each picture that you like? Are the lights colored? White? Icicle? Try to find a pattern.

  • Take a good look at your house from the sidewalk or the middle of the street (watch out for cars!) What kind of look does it have? Try to keep your Christmas décor in the same style as your home. A contemporary style home will look great with contemporary décor but a country home would look silly.

  • Consider your budget. The more lights you have the higher your electric bill will be.

  • Vary the heights and direction (horizontal or vertical) of your lights for interest.

  • Have a barn or shed? Outline it with lights, too.

  • Don't just light the roof line; consider the windows, porch steps, railings, and any architectural feature you want to highlight.

  • Use scalloped net lights along a porch railing

  • Hang icicle lights inside the windows

  • Use stakes to run chaser lights along your driveway or the walkway to your front door

  • The roof is the foundation of your Christmas light display. Get that first and then decide how much more you want to use.

  • For a serene look, especially on a vintage our country home, use white lights.

Christmas is a great time to indulge your inner child and create as much magic and whimsy as you want to.


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    • profile image

      Vuby 6 years ago

      What's the best thing to use to fix them to the outside of the house with?

    • Gatti profile image

      Gatti 6 years ago

      Nice hub and LED lights are great I have a bunch of them.

    • profile image

      Luciana 7 years ago

      good suggestions. My trouble is I end up with only the lights showing up and not the trees. Looks kind of neat, but not always what I wanted.

    • profile image

      adair_francesca 7 years ago

      wow! this is very timely especially Christmas time is near. Thanks for the great info.

    • eLightSpot profile image

      eLightSpot 7 years ago from Enid

      Great tips! Since the LED lights use less electricity, although they will be an initially higher investment, a lower electric bill during the holidays will offset that cost. :)

    • Mahfuza Urpa profile image

      Mahfuza Urpa 8 years ago from Bangladesh

      Excellent hub!! Thanks Marye:)

    • Juliet Christie profile image

      Juliet Christie Murray 8 years ago from Sandy Bay Jamaica

      Nice goog information. I myself just came across LED light and think they are reealy great

    • CynthiaF61 profile image

      CynthiaF61 8 years ago from Tennessee

      Thanks, Marye! You introduced me to some new types of lights I didn't even know existed! If I tell my husband about the solar powered lights.... well, let's just say I might not mention them to him! :)


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