It isn’t much. I can give you a few pointers about lighting the house for the holidays. Unlike Clark W. Griswold, I was never taught the finer points of exterior illumination. I was never shown how to hang lights. I did it all on the fly.
As a home owner, I find myself staring at the potential of yard while trying to shake off the reality of what I have to work with there. First of all, I have no real landscaping going on here. Around the front of the house between the garage and the front porch I have a bed of river rocks that have been picked through on occasion to put into the bottom of planters for drainage. There is a rose bush that has seen better days. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it a rose bush. It is more of the Charlie Brown Christmas Trees of rose bushes. On either side of the front porch are these god awful huge hedges that look like mullets. They are green on top and in on the front while the backs facing towards the porch are mostly branches with no leaves. My first year in the house I wanted to trim them down a hell of a lot. I trimmed the electrical more than the hedges in that case. Lastly, nestled in between both hedges is a row of those leafy looking ones that have enough bare spots that it looks like the making of a bad comb over.
So, this is what I have to work with. For the first four years I had to continually add more lights to the strands to cover the bushes as they grow out of control. First rule of thumb. You can never have enough lights. I’m not talking 25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights. I’m talking about having a healthy supply of unopened lights on hand to replace the ones you end up destroying when you take them down in the Spring. Yes, I said Spring.
Second rule of thumb. Have a lot of fuses on hand. I went through three sets of fuses before I realized I had too many strands plugged into each other. Don’t go above four per plug. Get yourself a hub of outlets that you can stick into the ground and plug your lights into it.
Third rule of thumb. Those notions that if one light goes out the rest stay lit is less believable than Santa Claus. One goes out and half the strand goes out. You know what those are good for? They take up a lot of space in the garbage can. Toss them. I have spent countless hours standing in the cold weather trying to check each and every bulb for the burned out one. That’s why you buy a lot of lights. They are pretty cheap and as long as you buy a good supply you can the same brand. I have also spent countless hours pulling the actual bulbs out of the base of the plug and threading them into another base on the affected strand to try and salvage a strand.
Fourth rule of thumb. Even though it sucks working in the dark, pick a cloudy day or one closer to evening. You can see what you are doing and have a better sense of the finished product. I’ve spent an entire afternoon hanging up the lights, feeling proud of myself, only to have my wife come out and say, “You need more lights” or “Why does it look like a Sudoku puzzle?”
Fifth rule of thumb. When you do actually take down the lights, wrap them up nicely. You will save so much time and aggravation if you remove a strand of lights, lay it out and make sure it still works. Then, take the female plug end, lay it in your palm and fold the lights back and forth with a bulb at either end of your palm until you reach the male plug end, wrap that around the bunch a few times and plug it into itself.
Now, I have no rules for running lights around the roof of the house. I don’t get up on a ladder unless I am cleaning out my gutters and in that case, I get up on the roof and work from there. I will say that I would avoid rope lights at all cost. If one of those things goes out, you have no chance of replacing the burned out bulbs.
Beyond that, I wrap the lamp post in my yard with a garland / light twist with a red bow at the top, put three spot lights in my yard and hang wreaths on all the windows. That’s it. Simplicity.
So, if you haven’t already put up those lights, then realize that there are only 11 days till Christmas. Might want to get out there, regardless of the weather.
I’m just saying.