How to Put Lights on the Outside of a House

Written by carolyn rumsey
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How to Put Lights on the Outside of a House
Lighting your house may require several hours of decorating but will make your home look festive for the holidays. (leuchten, image by Harald Soehngen from

When hanging lights for Christmas, it is easy to cross the line between well decorated and too decorated. The good news is that you can not only learn how to decorate your house in a classic and festive way, but you can also learn how to hang the lights without hassle. This year, save yourself some trouble and do a little research before attempting to decorate.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Christmas lights
  • Christmas light clips
  • Extension ladder
  • Extension cord
  • Power strip
  • Outdoor timer

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  1. 1

    Prepare a plan for where you would like to put lights on your house. Use a long measuring tape, one that has 30 feet or more, to find the length of your house along the ground. Use this measurement to figure out how many lights you need; add a little extra length if you have high eaves or gables.

  2. 2

    Decide which kind of lights you would like to use to decorate your house. There are lights available in classic white, colours, blinking style, icicle style and more. You may want to consider cost versus quality. Smaller lights are less expensive to buy and power, but are less durable than larger lights.

  3. 3

    Buy clips you can use to hang the lights on your house. Just like Christmas lights, clips also come in a variety of styles and sizes. The clips can be found at local stores that carry holiday supplies. The boxes they come in will inform you of their most suitable purpose so you can buy clips that cater to shingles, gutters and porch railings.

  4. 4

    Hang the lights along your roof line, eaves, gables, and/or windows. Use an extension ladder that is placed firmly on the ground. Put each bulb in a clip and attach it to the house. Don't skip bulbs. Having bulbs hanging freely between the clips will make your lights look like they're sagging instead of having a clean, tight appearance.

  5. 5

    Find a power source outside that can handle a high amount of voltage. Use an extension cord to plug in your string of lights. Use a power strip if you have multiple cords that need to be plugged into the electrical socket. However, be careful not to overload it.

  6. 6

    Set up a timer that is weather resistant and meant for outdoor use (do not use an indoor timer outside). This will make sure your lights turn on and off every night whether or not you remember and also provides the convenience of turning them on and off for you.

  1. 1

    Ravel a string of lights around the tree trunk, making sure it is evenly spaced.

  2. 2

    Wrap the string up the first branch you come to, making the spiral half as dense as you want it to be. (reference 3)

  3. 3

    Spiral the lights back down the same branch when you reach the end. This will take you back to the centre of the tree where you can wrap the rest of the branches in the same fashion. You will probably need to use several strings of light for the whole tree, depending on its size, so make sure to buy strings with female and male ends that can be plugged in to each other.

  4. 4

    Use an extension cord to plug the end of the string of lights into the power source.

  1. 1

    Put the string of lights on a bush horizontally, starting at the bottom edge and moving to the other side. For best results, patiently make sure the bulbs are sticking outwards (not into the bush), and that the string is laying nice and straight for the most part.

    How to Put Lights on the Outside of a House
    You will have to be patient to string lights on your bush in a way that looks professional. Wayward decorating could ruin your holiday decor. (Christmas lights image by Cindy Haggerty from
  2. 2

    Loop back around when you reach the other side of the bush. A good rule of thumb is to make a loop about the same size as the bulbs are apart on the string; so if the lights are 4 inches apart, the loop should be about 4 inches making the horizontal rows on the bush also 4 inches apart.

  3. 3

    Wrap the string of lights around the front of the bush until it is covered from top to bottom. Plug several strings of lights together if need be.

  4. 4

    Step back several feet to view the bush from farther away. Make sure all the lights are facing outward and that the strings of lights are evenly spaced and straight.

Tips and warnings

  • It is always a good idea to test your lights before you start hanging them by putting a string of lights in a power outlet and making sure they light up properly.
  • Do not use nails or a staple gun to attach light strings to your house. This can damage the wiring and is an electrical hazard.
  • Do not hang a string of lights with faulty wiring, frayed wires or broken bulbs.
  • Check with UL guidelines if you are using a large amount of Christmas lights to make sure you are within limits.

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