December 16, 2017

Christmas Lighting Installation–Working with the Pros

christ lite install 

Christmas Lights:  Should You Leave this Job to Someone in the Know? 

Using a Christmas lights professional to install Christmas decorations–including Christmas lights–can make the difference between ho-hum holiday décor, and décor that wows everyone who passes your home. And unless you are a real pro at this task, you should probably at least consider hiring a Christmas lights professional to handle your Christmas lighting installation. After all, you wouldn’t call a plumber to mow your lawn, or a doctor to cut your hair, would you? 

Narrowing the Field

The first step to take when engaging a Christmas lights professional is to determine exactly what extent of help you need. Do you already know what you would like your Christmas lights and decorations to look like? In that case, you would  probably do fine with the kind of company that only takes care of Christmas lighting installation jobs, such as hanging Christmas lights. Others provide a wide variety of services, from helping you select lights that suit your taste and budget, to choosing other holiday embellishments, to ensuring that your entire “package” of lights and other Christmas decorations look great together. 

Questions to Ask

Before settling on a specific Christmas lights professional to take over your Christmas lighting installation project, it’s prudent to ask each candidate a variety of questions so that there are no surprises later. For example, does the company provide any sort of guarantee that its team will arrive at your home on time and start hanging Christmas lights according to your agreed-upon design plan? How will the situation be handled should the initial cost estimate prove too low; in other words, will they consult with you to maintain a lid on costs? What happens should Christmas lights and/or Christmas decorations purchased from the company fail; e.g., will the company repair or replace it? And perhaps most important, does the Christmas lights professional have liability and worker’s compensation insurance? 

Other ‘Musts’

It’s also important to remember that a reputable Christmas lights professional doesn’t disappear once a Christmas lighting installation has been completed. Rather, it should have in place a system for responding to follow-up inquiries and calls. The company should also provide, preferably in writing, a date or a range of dates on which it will return to your home to take down the Christmas lights (and Christmas decorations, if applicable) it has installed. Providing you keep these guidelines in mind, dealing with a Christmas lights professional should be a breeze.

C7 Holiday Lights–A Christmas Tradition

What’s a C7 light?

If you’re starting to plan your holiday decorations you may come across the term C7 when referring to Christmas lights.  I  know because I came across this term when doing research for a story on Christmas decorations and initially had no clue as to what it referred to.  With some digging I found a wealth of information about this little light bulb that I now share with you.

C7 Holiday Lights A Christmas TraditionA C7 Christmas bulb is the smaller of the two sizes of traditional Christmas lights; the larger one being a C9.   Larger than the popular little white holiday lights, but smaller than C9’s, these lights are often seen in bright candy colors.  However, you may occasionally find them offered in other colors and decorative styles.

A Little History on C7

C7 Holiday Lights A Christmas Tradition 1Originally manufactured by GE, these bulbs were introduced in 1934 and gradually gained popularity until in the 1950’s they were the most commonly used bulb for Christmas lighting.  What set these GE holiday lights apart from their predecessors was their parallel circuits.  Parallel circuits allowed a string of these bulbs to stay lit even if one of the bulbs burned out.  Prior to the release of this type of product, when one Christmas bulb went bad the entire string went dim.  The resulting challenge was the frustrating and time consuming task of replacing and testing each bulb individually until the offending bulb could be found.  I know what a challenge this can be because as a child in the 60’s hunting down the burned out bulbs in old light strings was often assigned to me.  Many years I had the misfortune of being the Christmas light tester.

Anyway, when shopping for holiday lights, you’re likely to find C7 bulbs available in both solid and see-through styles.  The solid colored bulbs are referred to as ceramic bulbs, while the transparent type, where you can see the filament inside, are termed transparent bulbs.

Which you choose is really a matter of taste, but I would suggest not mixing the two types of Christmas bulbs in your display or on your tree for maximum effect.

A set of C7 bulbs should last you a good, long time.  A life expectancy of 10 or more years is not uncommon for a set of these lights.  The fact that they are intended to be used indoors goes a long way in helping these lights last a long time.  If you need a string of lights for outside decorating, choose a string of the larger C9 type lights instead.  These larger bulbs make a better outdoor show and are insulated to stand up to cold and wet conditions.

C7 lights are also fairly low consumers of energy. They use about 5 watts per bulb which is more than mini lights, but you get far more illumination from C7 type lights.  Anyway you look at it, chances are you won’t go wrong if you purchase some C7 for you holiday decorating projects.

Christmas Decorations Add Cheer During the Holidays

Add Brightness to the Holidays with Christmas Lighting Ideas

Christmas Decorations Add Cheer During the HolidaysProper lighting can completely transform an area from dull and boring to festive and exciting.  Christmas lighting ideas can range from string lights to rope lighting, to stick lights, lantern lights, hanging objects, candles, flags, novelty figures, etc.  There are so many Christmas lighting ideas available today, the creativity seems endless.  Don’t forget colors when contemplating Christmas lighting ideas.  The choices for multi-colored lights, monochromatic colored lights, or even monochromatic white lights are many.  One Christmas lighting idea for someone who is short on space, would be to outline a Christmas tree with string lights on a blank wall to create a 2-D Christmas tree.  Visit local stores or peruse the internet to help with more Christmas lighting ideas.

Share the Cheer with Outdoor Christmas lighting

Christmas Decorations Add Cheer During the Holidays 1In addition to indoor Christmas decorations, outdoor Christmas lighting can encourage peace and unity amongst neighbors, add curb appeal, and brighten your “welcome home.”  Some ideas for outdoor Christmas lighting include lighting a path, outlining a boundary with lights, displaying religious or novelty objects, lighting trees/bushes/buildings/objects.  It’s fun to drive down a street lined with parkway trees wrapped in monochromatic lighting of green stems and white tree tops.  Lining a deck railing brings the festivity to the backyard.  Nativity scenes are particularly beautiful when highlighted with outdoor Christmas lighting.  Outlining a house with outdoor Christmas lighting can accent its beauty.  There are many ways to share the spirit with outdoor Christmas lighting.

Chose Among the Many Ways to Decorated an Outdoor Christmas tree

The most grand outdoor Christmas tree can usually be found in the downtown of a major metropolitan area.  Several trees are roped together to form a massive outdoor Christmas tree.  This is then lit with an abundant amount of lights and, sometimes, other Christmas decorations.  It is spectacular.  Other large Christmas trees can be formed from metal framing and then outlined with outdoor lights.  It is easy to form many different sizes in this way.  Lights can be strung horizontally, vertically, or in a swirl design emphasizing movement.  A monochromatic lighting scheme is popular but multi-colored lighting on an outdoor Christmas tree is equally striking.  Of course, decorating an evergreen makes an easy outdoor Christmas tree.  Don’t forget the ornaments and a tree topper.

Christmas Decorations Add Cheer During the Holidays 2

Christmas Decorations to Shine This Holiday Season

Shimmering Ornament Selections from Kmart

Kmart is starting very early this season.  Now a part of the Sears family of stores, Kmart is already flooding the web with its pre-season holiday decorating ideas.  This year the ornament collection is chock full of things that shimmer and shine.  Bits of silver and black, and even a little bit of gold make up the most substantial percentage of the ornament collection.  Large finials are a relatively new item for the mass merchant.  These finials come in at a price that’s much higher than what we usually expect at Kmart.  It looks like Kmart is going after the upscale buyer who wants to save money over the usual Christmas boutique stores and still get an impressive, eye-popping ornament.  These finials are offered in a variety of sizes from 23″ to 42″ and unlike many specialty store ornaments are shatter-proof.  They may be shatter-proof, but they’re certainly not cheap.  Look for these finials to be priced from $39-$99.  Those with plenty to spend may opt to cover a large tree with them.  For the rest of us, we’ll opt for just one to hang from the ceiling or to place in a coveted position on an ornament stand.  Yet another option is to give one as a gift that your loved one can display for years to come.

Christmas Decoration to shine this holiday seasonCMI Christmas Lites–Sparkling Value Holiday Decorating

These finials too rich for your blood?  Take a look at Kmart’s 100 pack of CMI Christmas lites.  This is a collection of 100 shatter-proof ornaments in this year’s shiny modern, silver/black color scheme–all packaged in a reusable storage container for $99.  With this kit, you can decorate your whole tree.  All you need to do is add some mini Christmas lights or perhaps a string of LED Christmas light.  To check out the finials, CMI Christmas lite selections and other bright ideas click on this link and go to

www.kmaart.com./shc/s/_101_1004_Gifts_seasonal+shop_Ornaments.

Deck the Halls–Wreath Lights for the Holidays
Christmas Decoration to shine this holiday season 1100 clear Christmas lights bedazzle this 30″ snow pine wreath from CMI.  It’s also part of the Christmas Lane line now available at your local Kmart store. This retailer can also help you out with pre-lit artificial Christmas trees or just plain light-em-yourself trees. Also in stock are garlands, tree storage bags and a variety of fiber optic holiday trees in traditional green or shimmering white.

Whatever your decorating plans for this holiday season, you may want to check out Kmart’s early holiday shopper bargains. 

Christmas Decorations–Spotting the Trends

Boutique-Beautiful Christmas Decorations

Ever wander through one of those beautiful boutique home decorating stores just before the Christmas season?  If you have, you know these stores are often filled with tasteful, unique and sometimes breathtakingly beautiful holiday ideas.  Just exactly where do these store owners get these original home decorating ideas?  The answer to this burning question is that they get them at a variety of extravagant trade shows around the country.  Let’s take a look at just what the source is for all this holiday decorating bliss.

Biggest, Brightest and Best:  The Industry’s Finest Shows for Holiday Decorating

According to “Selling Christmas Decorations Magazine”, the major shows that US buyers report as their most important sources of holiday decorating ideas are The Atlanta International Gift and Home Furnishings Market, The Dallas Total Home & Gift Market/Holiday & Home Expo, The New York International Gift Fair, and The Chicago Market: Living & Giving.

Christmas Decoration Spotting The TrendThe Atlanta show is attended by buyers of furnishings and home décor, as well as gift shop owners, interior decorators and those who sell gourmet food and elegant tableware for the holidays.  A big influence in the industry, this show is for the trade only, so if you want to know the latest you’ll have to hook up with a local decorator who makes attendance at this show a priority.

Collectible ornament Atlanta Gift Show

Shoot’em Up this Holiday Season–12 Gauge Christmas Lights

Christmas Decoration Spotting The Trend 1Billed as the most complete wholesale market in the country, the Dallas Total Home & Gift Market this June featured 222 exhibitors in the Christmas category alone. In the category of Christmas lights, a real original is 12 Gauge Designs.  In true Texas style, this off-the-wall manufacturer offered Christmas lights in the shape of 12 gauge shotgun shells.  Don’t let anyone ever tell you Texas doesn’t have an attitude all its own!

Home for the Holidays–Lights Decorations & the Hottest Trends

Not to be outdone the New York International Gift Fair packs 2900 exhibitors into the Javitts Exhibition Hall and the Pier 94 passenger ship terminal.  Here you’ll find a mind boggling selection of merchandise for the home and holidays. Each August 30,000 buyers from 50 states and 77 countries descend on the city to collect the gather holiday decorating merchandise from the 4 corners of the world.  When it comes to lights decorations, this show, as well as The Chicago Market, have plenty of ideas to satisfy even the most selective designer.

Christmas Decorations–Craft Projects for Kids

Holiday Decorating With Kids in Mind

xmas decoration craft project for kidsComing up with holiday decorating ideas for kids is a well-known challenge for teachers and leaders of scout and community groups across the country.  Where can you they go to come up with unique ideas to use to help kids make their own simple Christmas decorations?  Lucky for them the internet has just about eliminated this familiar challenge.  These days the quandary is which of the multitude of holiday decorating ideas to choose.

Some of the best sites for kid-friendly Christmas decorations are www.kaboose.com, www.dltk-holidays.com/xmas/index.html and www.amazingmoms.com/htm/christmas_crafts.  These sites offer some quick, simple and inexpensive ideas that teachers can use to help kids come up with holiday decorating projects to take home to the family.

Holiday Decorating and Crafting Supplies

Some of the best places to get supplies for these projects for kids are your local craft shops or the craft departments of your local discount store.  We found supplies for Christmas decorations as early as July in craft stores such as Hobby Lobby, Michaels and JoAnn Fabric Shops.  Of the large discount stores, Wal-Mart appears to be the one that offers the largest selection of home crafting materials.

xmas decoration craft project for kids 1Many of the materials we found we located in the floral departments of craft stores.  Here we found artificial boughs and holly, glitter poinsettias and an amazing array of floral pieces beyond our wildest dreams.  If you’ve a bit of creativity, visit one of these stores and let your imagination flow.  You’re sure to come up with your own original ideas like this beautiful, simple floral craft project that hangs on a door.  The only catch here is when you get into floral you can spend a bit more than if you stick to simple children’s projects with materials like foam, paper, glitter and the like.

Beautify Your Projects with Xmas light

xmas decoration craft project for kids 2If you’ve a bit more to spend, you can always add interest to holiday craft projects by adding some Xmas light.  We like to scan the stores after Christmas and pick up discount holiday lights sets.  These mini Christmas lights are inexpensive during the season, but if you wait until after the holiday and buy for the year ahead you can often purchase your strings for less than you would pay for wholesale holiday lights. Even large lights like those shown, if purchased at a discount, can be used in many uniquely creative ways.  After all, whatever way you choose to go, the kids you work with are sure to have fun and enjoy creating their very own special Christmas decorations.

Trends in Christmas Decorations–2009

trends in xmas decoration

Research On Lights Decorations

If you’re getting ready for Christmas and planning ahead for your lights decorations, you might be interested in knowing what the coming season’s hottest trends are likely to be.  Lucky for you, we’ve done a lot of research and can give you a pretty good idea of what’s to come in Christmas lighting decorating for 2009.

Holiday Decorating to Go Green

trends in xmas decoration 1Scanning the market, one of the biggest trends we see coming is movement toward more eco-consciousness in holiday decorating. According to “Selling Christmas Decorations Magazine”, in a recent survey retailers reported that eco-conciousness was a factor in 23% of consumers purchases.  Decreased energy usage, longer lasting bulbs and LED lighting were sited as important considerations.  Bags,  receipts and other waste were also mentioned as customer concerns.

trends in xmas decoration 2The percentage of people looking for “green” Christmas decorations in 2008 was significant and is expected to continue to grow.  Natural products for holiday decorating is just beginning to influence buying habits according to many retailers. It appears environmentally-conscious products are expected to exert a growing influence in holiday decorating, especially among younger buyers.

LED Lighting–An Eco-Concious Product Anticipated to Grow

trends in xmas decoration 3Retailers also reported on holiday decorating products that are expected to continue to exhibit the greatest growth.  These products include indoor décor, ornaments–especially glass ornaments, pre-lit trees and options in LED lighting.

As we near the holiday shopping season you can expect to see retailers add some specific categories to their selections of merchandise for 2009.  More pet items, jewelry and personalized products are anticipated.  Other new and unique items that you may find this coming holiday season include inspirational items, personalized merchandise and foods as well as decorations and ribbons of high quality.  Just as the number of these categories are expected to grow still others are likely to be less prevalent this Christmas.  Trees, greeting cards, collectibles, paper tableware, stationery, inflatables, party goods and potpourri are likely to take up less space on retailer’s floors than in past seasons.

The Evolution of Christmas Decorations

Prevalence of Christmas Decorations
the evolution of xmas decorationsYou might not have ever thought about it, but Christmas decorations haven’t always been so prevalent.  Can you imagine there was a time when December didn’t bring streets lined with brightly lit homes and sparkling trees? Or can you picture a time when downtown streets and shops weren’t lit with festive holiday lights?

You probably can’t, but believe it or not, in the big scheme of things such a time was not that long ago.  In the 2,000 or so years since the birth of Christ, it’s only within the last 150 years or so that Christmas decorations have been so prevalent in the United States.

Festive Lighting–A Little History

the evolution of xmas decorations 1Although Christmas decorations per se are relatively new, for millennia, light has been an integral part of religious and spiritual festivals celebrating the cycle of life.  Ancient peoples recognized light and the importance of it to life itself and therefore assigned it an important position.  Symbolic, ceremonial use of festive lighting became a staple fairly early on in the course of humanity.

the evolution of xmas decorations 2Traditionally, the Jews used light to indicate the beginning and end of their most holy day–Shabbat or the Sabbath.  The lighting of Friday night Shabbat candles to this day begins the Sabbath at sundown and ends it Saturday evening with the lighting of the elegant twisted Havdalah candle.  Since the Jews used candlelight for signifying the beginning of all the important festivals like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Tu Be Shevat and Passover, it was only natural that when Christianity developed as an offshoot of this religion that the use of candlelight followed down this new path.

The Origins of Christmas Light Displays in the US.
the evolution of xmas decorations 3Over the centuries the use of festive lighting in the world’s religions continued, but not until the mid-nineteenth century did Christmas take on the significance that would make it stand out as a day different than any other in the relatively new country–the United States.  At this time the Germans are credited with bringing the first Christmas tree to the US.  Initially, citizens were reluctant to bring a tree into their home.  It just didn’t make sense to them.  Imagine Grandmother’s horror when a dirty tree came into the house.  But, as is common in all generations,  youth prevailed, pursued the trends of the times and eventually the Christmas tree became the staple it is in our homes today.

Beginning with just a small decorated tree in the home, the tradition of Christmas light displays and eventually extensive decorating and holiday lights of all kinds began.  Sometimes it’s hard to believe that the expansive holiday lighting we see each year began so humbly with man’s homage to the life-giving light of the sun.

the evolution of xmas decorations 4Contribute to the environment by using energy efficient xmas lightthe evolution of xmas decorations 5

This Year Make Some of Your Own Christmas Decorations

Holiday Decorations for Do-It-Yourselfers

Hobbyists love Christmas!  In fact many crafters work all year creating Christmas decorations either to sell or use in their own homes or give as gifts.

Popular holiday decorating crafts may be as simple ornaments for the Christmas tree or as complex as creating Christmas wreaths with either natural or artificial pine boughs.  For homemade ornament ideas you might try www.kaboose.com.  This website is chock full of ideas for making ornaments out of simple items you’ll find around the home as well as with fairly inexpensive items available from craft stores like Michaels (www.michaels.com)  and Hobby Lobby (www.hobbylobby.com)

Wreath making–DIY Christmas Decorations

For wreath making, you might want to go traditional and create an evergreen wreath for your holiday decorating project.  Branches can be affixed to wire, styrofoam and a variety of other materials to make natural and attractive Christmas decorations.  For a wreath made with Mother nature’s own materials consult the ehow website for some easy, beautiful hand’s on wreaths you can make with your own energy, love and materials right from your yard and garden.  Enter http://www.ehow.com/how_11072_make-evergreen-wreath.html into your browser.  Yet another site with a variety of wreath making ideas is http://christmas.howstuffworks.com/how-to-make-a-christmas-wreath.htm.

Wreath Lighting–Advent Candle-Style or Electric Christmas Lights?
This year make some of your own xmas decorationsOnce you have your wreath may want to consider some of the various ways to achieve wreath lighting.  Traditionally candles were used and occasionally this is still done today.  Any number of candles can be placed in a fire-proof container and placed in or around your wreath.  Often wreath lighting is specifically of the advent type.  In this type of wreath lighting four or five candles are used. The four candles represent each of the Sunday’s before Christmas.  One candle is lit each Sunday for four weeks before Christmas.  As an alternative a fifth candle may be added which is then lit on Christmas Day.

In addition wreath lighting may be accomplished with today’s more modern and less hazardous method of using electric light bulbs.  Often mini Christmas lights or white holiday lights are wrapped around evergreen boughs to give a beautiful soft glow to the wreath.  Outdoor wreaths can be decorated with the larger c7 holiday lights or even the very large c9 holiday lights.  An even newer outdoor option is the c9 led type of Christmaslights.  Any way you choose to do your wreath lighting, it’s sure that your wreaths lights will add plenty to the festive holiday spirit.

Getting The ‘Hang’ of Christmas Lighting Installation

What You Need to Know About Installing Christmas Lights
get the hang of xmas lighting installationChristmas decorations simply aren’t complete without a presentation of beautifully hung holiday lights. But while using a variety of lights to accent your home’s eaves, windows, and shrubbery is a great way to get into the Yuletide spirit, Christmas lighting installation can be tricky unless you know the basic “do’s” and “don’ts” of how to hang Christmas lights.

Getting Started With Outdoor Christmas Decorations

Before you climb a ladder, assemble your materials and tools. You’ll need several strings of Christmas lights, light clips for gutters and shingles, nail-on wire clips, and heavy-duty extension cords, plus a hammer, tape measure and long-nose pliers. To determine how many 50-foot strings of lights you will need, measure the length of the house along the ground, as well as its height and that of any bushes or trees you’re planning to illuminate. Don’t forget to measure any portion of doors and windows around which you also want to position lights. Inspect each light string before plugging it in, replacing broken or missing bulbs. To remove broken bulbs, put on a pair of gloves and use a pair of long-nose pliers. Discard any string with faulty wires. Then, plug in each complete light string and check it for burned-out bulbs. Unplug every string prior to replacing bad bulbs, and re-test to make certain all lights work. If a string does not light up at all, follow the manufacturer’s directions for checking for blown fuses. Replace each blown fuse once; replace the entire string if it blows again.

get the hang of xmas lighting installation 1Stringing ‘em Up–Christmas Lighting Installation

Unless your home’s eaves are very low–in which case, a stepladder may suffice–position an extension ladder firmly on flat ground and against the eaves. The ladder should extend beyond the eaves and be set at a comfortable, safe climbing angle. If you absolutely must lean the ladder against a gutter, reinforce the gutter with a short piece of 2-by-4. Hang lights easily and safely without ruining your home’s trim and walls by using specially made plastic clips to attach the strings along your gutters and roof. The clips grip shingles and gutters; their lower hooks hold light strings and extension cords alike. To attach lights to window trim or other vertical surfaces, use tube light or nail-on plastic clips spaced 12 inches apart. You can buy these clips at any home improvement center. Avoid stapling or nailing light strips to trim, as both staples and nails can perforate or erode the protective insulation, causing a fire hazard.

get the hang of xmas lighting installation 2Calling In The Pros–Christmas Lights Professional

Don’t have the time and/or patience to hang holiday Christmas lights yourself? Prefer not to agonize over why a string of lights way up along the roof line of your home just isn’t lighting up? Consider hiring a Christmas lights professional. Some companies handle only the Christmas lighting installation piece of the business, which is fine if you already have a specific idea of what you would like your lighting scheme to look like. Others offer a comprehensive menu of design services and will work with you to create a lighting configuration to perfectly complement your other Christmas decorations. But whether you hang your own lights or call in the pros, make beautifully hung lights a part of your holiday décor.