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How to Hang Christmas Lights

I love budget-friendly decorating ideas, and I am an avid DIY advocate. Hanging Christmas lights is easy if you know what fasteners to use.

"How Do You Hang Christmas Lights Anyway?"

Maybe you're a new home buyer, or you're looking at an unmarred coat of paint on the walls. Maybe you are a renter, or this is your first time putting up Christmas lights. You're probably wondering, "How do people put up indoor Christmas lights?"

It seems to be a given that everyone knows how to hang up Christmas lights, but to us novices, it is a feat of mass undertaking. I have accumulated vast amounts of knowledge in this quest to master the task of Christmas. Here is everything I have researched, learned, or tried.

Decide Where You Are Putting up Your Lights

Common Places to Hang Christmas Lights:

  • Window frames
  • In/on windows
  • Doors frames or hallway entrances
  • Banisters/railings
  • Mantles/shelves
  • Plants/trees/shrubs
  • Gutters/edges of the house
  • Around the garage door

How Long of a Strand Do You Need?

Measure

  1. Locate the power source where you would like to plug in your lights, and determine if you will need an extension cord or power bar.
  2. Measure all sides of your window or hanging surface area, including length needed to reach the power source.
  3. Find the dimensions of your light strands, then pick the correct light strand length accordingly, so you won't fall short or have too much excess.

If you do not have a measuring tape, use a piece of string to measure your window. Then hold it up against a ruler to find out your length.

Estimate

If precision and measuring is not your style, feel free to wing it. Sometimes, math skills and measuring are not your forte, and you end up re-doing at least one strand anyway.

hangchristmaslights

What to Use to Hang Outdoor Christmas Lights

  • Gutter Hooks: These are plastic clips that fasten to the edge of gutters or shingles. They are easily found in many stores.
  • Metal Hooks or Nails: You can tie the light strand onto every few nails or hooks in preparation for winter winds.
  • Zap Strap: Use these to strap lights to railings.
  • Staple Gun: Extra caution should be used to not pierce the protective lining of electrical wires.
  • Garland Clips for Banisters and Railings: Place the garland onto the hook.
  • Battery-Powered Light Strand: You can use these for wreaths. Weave the strand around the wreath. Then hang the wreath on the door with a plastic, metal, or decorative wreath holder that is well-fastened to a nail or hook.
  • Hooks, Floral Tape, Floral/Garden Wire, or Zap Straps: These are great for posts and poles.
hangchristmaslights

What to Use to Hang or Fasten Indoor Christmas Lights:

  • Small nails
  • Cup hooks, picture frame hooks, or other small hooks
  • Clear thumb tacks
  • Blu Tack
  • Masking tape or painter's tape
  • Clear tape, clear packing tape, double-sided tape
  • Staple gun
  • Cable clips
  • 3M stick-on hooks or stick-on cord organizers (these stick on your wall but are easily removed, leaving no adhesive behind)
  • Suction cups (for windows)
  • Zap straps, garden twist ties, or floral tape or wire (for posts, railings, or banisters)

Of all of these options, my personal preference is clear thumb tacks and clear tape on the sides. I will also use masking tape if it's a big job.

Tips for Suction Cups on Windows

Do you have difficulty keeping your suction cups stuck to your windows? Here are some tips:

  • Clean window and suction cups thoroughly with Windex.
  • Clean suction cups with dish detergent.
  • Dip misshapen cups briefly into hot/boiling water, let them drip, and stick them immediately to the window.
  • Use a mild abrasion—like a mixture of toothpaste and water or baking soda and water—to remove any imperfections on the plastic that may be breaking your seal.
  • Use several suction cups when hanging something heavy.
  • Moisten the backs of the suction cups with water, but don't use too much.
  • Try small amounts of oil or Vaseline with your suction cups.
  • Use Elmer's glue (water-soluble) to fasten the cups to your window.

Ways to Hang Lights With Garland on a Railing:

  • Twist the lights around the garland and hang them both up on the railing using garland clips.
  • Place the garland and lights straight along the railing and fasten in place wrapping it all with zap straps (cable ties).
  • Tie the lights to the garland with twist ties or bows.
  • Fasten the light strand and garland to the railing by wrapping them all with ribbon or beads.
hangchristmaslights

Your Christmas Style

Indoor Christmas Light Installation Process

  1. Plug your strand in to make sure all lights are working. Make any repairs needed and replace any bulbs that are burnt out. Plan for the extra time it will take to go through and fix any of your light strands.
  2. Once everything is in working order, start at the outlet with the lights plugged in and work your way up and around.
  3. Insert push pins, nails, or small hooks above your window or door frame. My preference is to insert them right in the small crack where the frame meets the wall so that it is less noticeable if you remove them.
  4. Once your lights are fastened at the top (this will be your most secure point), fasten strands to the sides and below your window or door with your choice of fasteners.

How to Repair Your Lights With the Lightkeeper Pro

Label Your Lights

Before storing Christmas lights or as soon as you take the lights out of their boxes, place masking tape near the plug of each strand and label it with its measurements or the location where the strand is usually set up.

Let's hear your vote!

How Do You Hang Your Christmas Lights?

Is there a method we haven't mentioned? Do you use suction cups? Leave a comment below.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Comments

anonymous on December 28, 2011:

thank you for the lens. I love hanging my christmas lights. We normally throw em up Thanksgiving day.

anonymous on December 21, 2011:

Thanks, very creative.

blujeanmomma from Rocky Mountains on December 07, 2010:

We have had the same lights on the roof for 20 years (and they stay up 365), Been looking around for some different ideas & like what you have shown here.

I like putting up garland inside the house and every year I try to find a new place to hang it so that looks new and different.

champagne1 on October 31, 2010:

@Othercatt: It's scary to get on the roof and dangerous! i hope he is careful. We Hire someone to hang our christmas lights

Othercatt on September 08, 2010:

We put all our decorations up on Thanksgiving. The lights are my husbands favorite part because he gets to climb on the roof. Great lens!

patrpatr_1 on July 21, 2010:

Purchased the window frame system from frameyourholiday.com It is sturdy and can stay in the window all year and go unnoticed when no decorations are present. I decorate about 5 times a year so this has been a great help.

lasertek lm on December 08, 2009:

Nice! I share your dilemma. During the holidays, I'm the one in-charge of hanging the Christmas lights. I must admit that I hate this responsibility because I really do not know how to make Christmas designs out of the lights. But this year, I will surely surprise my family because now I know how to hang the lights. Thanks for sharing what you've learned.

Rated 5* Hope you could visit my lenses as well.

Beth Webster-Duerr from Henrietta, New York on November 24, 2009:

WE use platic light hangers that come in 3 different style. They work great on the gutters and around our vinyl sided house in Upstate NY. Great info and well thought out. 5 stars, lensrolled and used as discovery for The 16 Best Christmas Light Displays on YouTube . Thanks so much

mekimare lm on October 27, 2009:

Great page - decorating is so fun and yet such work!! I like to use those stick-on hooks for garland and wreaths that you can get (I think they are made by 3M), that pull right off after the season's over. I also have outdoor holiday decorating tips at http://www.squidoo.com/holidaylighting - please check it out and see what you think, I think it complements nicely!

squid-janices7 on December 11, 2008:

Fun! Lensrolled you back to my Family Christmas Traditions lens. I've found that those plastic wheels that hold lights work the best for storage.

piedromolinero on December 04, 2008:

A very nice lens, welcome to the Christmas decorations group.

anonymous on November 27, 2008:

I love this lens. I use suction cup hooks usually. I have been known to use clear tape as well.