How to Hang Christmas Lights

Updated on December 16, 2017
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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.

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"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 One Puts up 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.

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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.

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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.

Tip

Masking or painter's tape and Blu Tack can be painted to match your walls.

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.

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Your Christmas Style

What do you use to hang your Christmas lights up?

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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.

Tip

Use caution when using any sharp item, such as a nail, push pin, or thumb tack. Do not insert them into the light strand as this may touch the live electrical wire.

When do you hang your Christmas lights?

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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.

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How Do You Hang Your Christmas Lights?

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

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        anonymous 

        6 years ago

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

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        6 years ago

        Thanks, very creative.

      • blujeanmomma profile image

        blujeanmomma 

        7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

        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.

      • profile image

        champagne1 

        7 years ago

        @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 profile image

        Othercatt 

        7 years ago

        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!

      • profile image

        patrpatr_1 

        8 years ago

        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 profile image

        lasertek lm 

        8 years ago

        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.

      • SoyCandleLover profile image

        BW Duerr 

        8 years ago from Henrietta, New York

        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 profile image

        mekimare lm 

        8 years ago

        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 https://hubpages.com/living/holidaylighting - please check it out and see what you think, I think it complements nicely!

      • squid-janices7 profile image

        squid-janices7 

        9 years ago

        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 profile image

        piedromolinero 

        9 years ago

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

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        9 years ago

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

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