How To Hang Christmas Lights A Rough Guide to Installing Christmas Lights

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A brief guide on how to install Christmas lights like a pro.

How to Hang Christmas Lights

Learn how to hang Christmas lights with our step-by-step installation guide. The methods we teach you here are the same methods that many Christmas light hangers use when providing professional Christmas light installation services for their clients.

Hanging Christmas lights is inherently dangerous. Please do not attempt this unless you are willing to take the risks involved when hanging Christmas lights. TheLightPros.com assumes no responsibility for your safety. We recommend hiring a professional Christmas light installer to hang Christmas lights for you.

Table of Contents

Estimate the Number of Light Needed

Estimating how many Christmas lights you will need to hang on your home isn't easy. Our Christmas light hangers have experience with estimation that cannot be explained through a guide. Instead of telling you secrets to estimating Christmas lights, we will provide you with pictures of different homes and give you an estimate as to how many lights are needed to decorate. To be safe, purchase more Christmas lights than you anticipate needed. Estimate the linear footage of the eves that you want to decorate.

Lights For a House

Below are some pictures of different sized homes followed by an estimate of the number of lights needed to hang Christmas lights on the front of the home.

Christmas Lights on a one story home The front of this single story home has between 120 and 135 feet of Christmas lights.
Christmas Lights on a two story home The front of this two story home has between 210 and 235 feet of Christmas lights.
Christmas Lights on a small home This home only has about 60 feet of Christmas lights on the eves.

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Types of Christmas Light Strands

C9 Christmas lights are by far the most common light bulb to use when people hang Christmas lights. C7 lights are the same shape as C9's bulbs, but are smaller in diameter. The C9 bulb is 9/8 inch in diameter while the C7 Christmas light is 7/8 inches in diameter. Most Christmas light cord has a 12 inch spacing between bulbs, but may vary between 6" and 36". We recommend using 12" spacing between bulbs. Icicle lights may be used in place of bulbed Chrismtas light cord. Please use LED icicle lights only! They are more expensive, but last much longer, do not have the tendency to go out, and are much easier to intall.

C9 Christmas light A C9 Christmas light bulb.
C7 Christmas light A C7 Christmas light bulb.
Icicle Christmas lights An icicle light strand.
Mini Christmas lights Mini Christmas lights are best used in trees.

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Electricity Basics

Never hang Christmas lights while they are plugged in. Working with live electricity can be dangerous and you may get electrocuted. You don't need to be an expert in electricity to hang Christmas lights, but you need to know about amperage. Plugging too many Christmas lights into the same extension cord or light strand can cause the wire to fail, aka burning-up.

Each bulb or light strand consumes power measured in watts or amps. Check the label to see how much power the lights consume. C9 bulbs typically consume 7 watts, C7 bulbs consume 5 watts, LED C9's consume a negligible about of power unless stringing more than 400 on the same cord. Mini lights consume 0.2 amps per 100 bulbs. Check the labels or the writing on the bulbs to confirm. To convert watts to amps, multiple the watts per bulb times the number of bulbs and divided by 110. Standard light cord is usually rated for 10 amps. Again, be sure to check the rating for all your extension cords and light strands. Add up all the power on the downstream side of the male connector where you are plugging the Christmas lights in. Stay under the rating of the cord.

Christmas lights purchased in sets of 25 have fuses in the male connectors. These usually rated for 5 amps and will fail if you plug more than 75 C9 lights into these cords.

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Powering the Christmas Lights

Look for a central outlet to plug the Christmas lights into. Plugging the Christmas lights into an outlet near the center of the home distributes the electrical load on the cord and reduces the need to run more extension cords.

Extension cord diagram The white lines show where extension cords were used to plug in the Christmas lights.

In this Christmas light display, the lights are plugged into an outlet near the front door. One 13 amp extension cord hides behind the downspout to the right of the front door. The Christmas lights above the front door are plugged into this extension cord and run towards the left side of the house. About 75 C9 bulbs are on this line. Another extension cord runs to the right peak. 40 bulbs are on that line. A third extension cord runs to the dormer to power an additional 25 light bulbs. In total, we have 140 C9 Christmas lights consuming 9 amps of power on this 13 amp extension cord. The mini lights on the ground are plugged into a separate extension cord which is plugged into the 20 amp outlet.

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Custom Cutting the Christmas Light Strands

Standard two-wire Christmas light cord can be cut at any length. Use a pair of wire-cutters to cut off excess lights. Please don't wrap the extra lights around the downspout. DO NOT cut the cord while the lights are plugged in. Seal the end of the cord by pulling the wire sheathing past the end of the exposed wires and melt with a lighter then pinch the ends. Place a connector over the end if you need to plug more lights into this cord.

Cut the light cord Cut the cord between two sockets.
Pull the sheathing Pull the sheathing back to cover the exposed wires.
Pinch the end Melt the end of the sheathing, then pinch to close.
female connector Attach a connector to the cord.
connector cap Slide the cap on the connector.

Using the male and female connectors, you can hang Christmas lights on only the eves that you want to decorate. You also reduce the amount of extension cords needed to plug in the Christmas lights.

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How to Hang Christmas Lights On a House

There are a variety of methods used to hang Christmas lights on your home. These methods of hanging Christmas lights depend on the style and material of the soffit and fascia. Soffits may be made form vinyl, wood, or aluminum.

soffit diagram Parts of a soffit.
vinyl soffit Hang Christmas lights on a vinyl soffit by using the socket clip.
wood soffit You may hang Christmas lights on a wooden soffit by stapling the lights.
crown soffit You cannot staple into this soffit or use the socket clip. Instead, use the universal Christmas light clip.

To hang Christmas lights, start at the outlet with the lights unplugged. Attach the first bulb to the soffit. Pull the slack out of the cord and attach the next bulb. When you have reached the end of the eve, you can transition to the next eve with the Christmas light strand. Unscrew or loosen the bulbs that you do not want to be lit. If the next eve is more than 4 feet away, cut the cord, add a connector, and use an extension cord. Try to hang Christmas lights on as much visible eves as you can. Start within 6" of the end of the eve. Don't leave any eves without lights.

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Hang Christmas Lights With the Socket Clip

It is easy to hang Christmas lights with the clip built into the socket. With the bulb facing towards you, open the clip and slip it between the soffit and the fascia cover. If you bought Christmas lights in a set of 25, you will notice that the male end is always at either the left or right end of the strand when the bulb is facing towards you and the clip is up. To fix this problem, simply cut both ends off and swap with the connectors.

open the Christmas light socket clip Use your fingers to open the clip on the Christmas light socket.
Slide the clip between the soffit and the fascia cover.

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Hang Christmas Lights With Universal Clips

If you cannot use the soffit clip, you may need to use a universal clip to hang Christmas lights on your home. The universal clip can attach to C9, C7, or Icicle lights and can be used on gutters, drip edges, and shingles.

Universal Christmas light hanger c9 Attach the clip to a C9 or C7 socket.
Universal Christmas light clip Attach the clip to icicle lights.
Hang Christmas lights on the gutter Hang Christmas lights to a gutter using the Christmas light hanger.
Hang Christmas lights to the drip edge The universal Christmas light hanger can be attached to the drip edge.
Hang Christmas lights on shingles Hang Christmas lights on the shingles if no drip edge or gutter is available.

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Hang Christmas Lights With a Staple Gun

This is another option to hang Christmas lights if you have a wooden soffit and cannot use the socket clip or don't like the look of the universal clip. Be warned, that tiny staple holes will cause slight damage to the wood. If your wood soffit is painted, you may not want to use staples. Stained wood soffits can safely be stapled.

Staple gun Use a staple gun with 3/8" staples.
Staple the Christmas lights under the gutter Staple the Christmas lights with the bulb facing out.
Staple the Christmas lights facing down You may staple the Christmas lights facing down.

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How to Hang Lights In a Christmas Tree

There are a few different ways to hang Christmas lights in trees depending on the type of the tree, shape of the tree, and how many lights you want to use. We usually use mini lights or LED lights to decorate Christmas trees. Incandescent light bulbs can be damaged and burn out due to winds.

Decorate a pine tree A traditional Christmas tree.
Decorate a deciduous tree Christmas lights in a leafy deciduous tree.
Wrap a tree with Christmas lights Wrapping a Christmas tree with holiday lights.

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Hang Christmas Lights In Pine trees

To achieve a random pattern, we evenly distribute lights within the tree by weaving the lights in and out of the branches. Avoid straight lines when hanging Christmas lights in a tree.

Weave Christmas lights in a tree To hang Christmas lights in a tree, weave the lights in and out of the branches.
A completely lit Christmas tree This is how to hang Christmas lights in a tree.

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Hang Christmas Lights In a Leafy Deciduous Trees

Hang Christmas lights in these leafy trees by outlining the branches of the tree. Start by wrapping the trunk of the tree then hooking around the small twigs growing out of the main branches. Don't wrap the branches, but follow them! You don't need to decorate all the branches to make the tree looks nice. Keep the tree looking symmetrical by balancing the amount of Christmas lights on each side of the tree.

Wrapping the tree trunk Wrap Christmas lights around the trunk of the tree.
Hook Christmas lights on the branches Hang Christmas lights on the branches by hooking to the twigs.
A decorated Christmas tree And now you're done hanging Christmas lights in this tree.

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Wrapping Christmas Lights In a Tree

Save time and lights by wrapping your pine trees or deciduous trees. Make a loop at the female end of the Christmas lights. Place this loop over the top branch. Use an extension pole with a hook on the end of it if the top of the tree is out of reach. Wrap the lights around the outside of the tree and keep an even spacing between wraps. Tie new Christmas light strands together and remove the empty spacing between the strands.

Make a loop Tie a loop at the end of the strand to place over the top branch.
Wrap Christmas tree Keep an even spacing between the Christmas lights.
Tie Christmas light strands together Tie the Christmas light strands together so they don't come undone.

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