Brilliant! Try These Clever Hacks For Decorating With Christmas Lights

While there is some debate about when you should start decorating for Christmas (pre-Thanksgiving versus post-Thanksgiving), we can all agree that holiday lights are very festive and fun to see around town.

If you want some quick and simple tips for installing Christmas lights around your home, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll also show you some creative things to do with lights. Many of these holiday hacks will save you time and money, and all of them will help make your home look great for the holidays!.

Brighten Up A Wooden Basket Using Lights And Ornaments

Brighten Up A Wooden Basket Using Lights And Ornaments
Sarah Klug/Pinterest
Sarah Klug/Pinterest

This little DIY ornament basket will be what all your holiday guests talk about around the fireplace this season. It’s both simple and elegant, not to mention beyond festive! The best part? You can have a few of them lying around the house, each basket housing different colored ornaments.

We suggest running to your closest home goods store to find the perfect wooden basket. Then, pick out an assortment of different decorative ornaments in the same color palate, such as varying shades of gold. Lastly, layer the ornaments and white Christmas lights to get a beautiful display!

A Basic Tree Is All You Need!

A Basic Tree Is All You Need!
Tom Kara/Pinterest
Tom Kara/Pinterest

If you’re one of those people who does not enjoy picking up all the pines of an evergreen tree off the floor after the holidays, we might have just the solution! You could always go for a fake tree, but can we recommend something a bit different this holiday season?

If you live near the beach, grab a few different sized pieces of driftwood, largest at the bottom to the smallest. Think of a pyramid! Then, decorate each “shelf” with tiny Christmas and holiday trinkets with a star about the top shelf. Lastly, make sure to wind your lights around each of the shelves for a festive glow!

Vase + Ornaments + Lights = Beautiful Holiday Decor

Vase + Ornaments + Lights = Beautiful Holiday Decor
talkdecor/Pinterest
talkdecor/Pinterest

Trust us when we say this is one of the easiest holiday decorations to throw together for a last-minute party. Thankfully, its simplicity doesn’t take away from how beautifully festive the decoration looks sitting on top of a mantel or just sitting on a side table.

All you need are a few vases, and your favorite Christmas balls in whichever color scheme you’re feeling that day, or even pinecones! And a strand of white lights to bring everything together! We do have a pro tip for you: use lights that are battery-powered, so you’re able to move the decor where you want without having to worry about an outlet!

Save The Trees This Season!

Save The Trees This Season!
Jessica Dixon/Pinterest
Jessica Dixon/Pinterest

This season, save the trees and opt for a 2-D light tree! You can even make it a fun DIY project for the whole family and make a forest of evergreen trees on one wall. Of course, all of them will utilize different colored lights, so it’s a party of color.

To start, we recommend finding the middle of your light strand and hooking it to the wall where the top of your tree is going to start. From there, bring each strand down diagonally to make the “branches.” You can even go as far as making some paper ornaments to decorate the tree!

Making Your House A Winter Wonderland Is Easy!

Making Your House A Winter Wonderland Is Easy!
Norma Arias/Pinterest
Norma Arias/Pinterest

If you have a window sporting a curtain rod, then you’re almost there! All you need to grab at the store if you don’t already have some, are slightly translucent curtains and some twinkling white Christmas lights. Once you have all of the parts, it’s time to assemble!

You’re going to want to put the curtains up first, followed by the lights. The lights are a bit tricky because you need to want to wrap them around the curtain rod so they’re hanging down towards the floor. Once you’re done, you’ll have a frosty snowstorm in your family room! Almost as though you’re living in a winter wonderland.

Make your Home Look Like A Snow Palace

Make your Home Look Like A Snow Palace
Home to Z/Pinterest
Home to Z/Pinterest

Turn your front lawn into the envy of all of your neighbors this holiday season with this clever Christmas light hack. Say goodbye to putting lights on your house, it’s all about lighting up the trees! Well, kind of. It’s a bit more in-depth of a DIY project than hanging lights off of trees.

First, you’re going to want to get a few different sized chick-wire balls and some fishing line. Then, weave the strands of white lights through the chicken wire. You’re going to want to hang the “light balls” off tree branches using the fishing line, making your front lawn look like it has a mystical entrance.

Have The Kids Make Mason Jar Lights

Have The Kids Make Mason Jar Lights
Amanda Randles/Pinterest
Amanda Randles/Pinterest

In our opinion, one of the best ways to decorate a bookshelf is with mason jar lights. Not only is it super easy, it’s also a very affordable holiday decoration that you can have your kids put together in no time!

All you have to do is get a few mason jar and some tiny white lights that are battery operated. Stick the lights in the jar and you have mason jar lights! Feel free to mix it up, too. Blue mason jars also make for a very pretty and festive decoration. Not to mention it gives everything a splash of color.

A Rainbow Of Bottled Light Is Perfect For Any Occasion

A Rainbow Of Bottled Light Is Perfect For Any Occasion
Vanessa Meyer/Pinterest
Vanessa Meyer/Pinterest

If you need a colorful and unique decoration for pretty much any occasion, look no further than your town’s home goods store. All you need are a few colored bottles and some little fairy lights or various colors.

The result? Awesome glowing bottle decorations that will make even the best DIY-er jealous. Add more lights for a starry-night feel, or less for more of a firefly-type decoration, and if you’re feeling fancy, feel free to draw a scene on the bottles (everyone likes a good forest!). Either way, you’re not going wrong with this Christmas light hack.

Burlap Garlands Need A Bit More Flair

Burlap Garlands Need A Bit More Flare
Lisa Keaveney/Pinterest
Lisa Keaveney/Pinterest

There is nothing wrong with a burlap garland, but we’d be lying if we said that the ones we see aren’t missing a little extra something. That something? A strand of Christmas lights woven through the fabric!

Burlap garlands are typically a DIY project, to begin with, so why not add another element to it? Especially considering you’re going to spend all of this time on a beautiful decoration, only to hang it up outside for no on to see once the sun sets. We say, add lights and let everyone see your gorgeous creation!

Tomato Cages Make Perfect Trees

Tomato Cage's Make The Perfect Tree
Heather Swank/Pinterest
Heather Swank/Pinterest

Considering that tomatoes don’t grow during the winter months, why not use a cage to build a Christmas tree decoration? All you have to do for this project is to wrap a strand of lights around the cage, making sure that the plug for the outlet is on the bottom fo the cage.

We recommend playing around with this idea, too. Use colored lights! And instead of wrapping the light strands around the cage, try hooking each to the top and have it cascade down the cage. it will give a little different effect than the wrap, but will look just as pretty on your front lawn!

Adhere Lights On Hard-To-Stick Spots Using Hot Glue

hot glue
YouTube/Christmas Designers
YouTube/Christmas Designers

It can be tricky to stick Christmas lights on certain materials, such as brick. But it’s not impossible. All you need is a hot glue gun. Simply put some hot glue onto the brick and stick either the string or base of the bulb into the glue. Press it down for a few seconds and then repeat.

Believe it or not, it’s just as easy to remove. All you have to do is gently pull the strand off the glue, and then scrape the glue off the bricks. This trick doesn’t harm the lights or the bricks.

Convert Any Lights To Christmas Lights With Plastic Colored Cups

Solo cup lighting
Pinterest/sarahtolbard
Pinterest/sarahtolbard

If your yard is full of landscaping lights, you can easily transform them for some holiday flair. Buy some red and green see-through plastic cups at the grocery store or Walmart. Then cut out inserts for your landscaping lights. If you have projector LED lights, even better.

You can also put the cups over any strand lighting for a fun and casual look. They’re especially perfect for decorating patio areas.

Use Clothespins To Hang Lights Outdoors

clothespins
Pinterest/maryimes
Pinterest/maryimes

When you’re getting ready to install lights on the perimeter of your home, it can be challenging to use light clips. They’re a little clunky to work with, and the job can be slightly time-consuming. Why not use clothespins instead?

They are much easier to handle when you’re decorating the exterior of your home, particularly if the edge of the roof has a lip in which you can clip the clothespins. Save time (and your back) with this simple hack.

Store Lights By Wrapping Them Around Cardboard

wrapped lights
YouTube/Mary Tardito
YouTube/Mary Tardito

One of the “12 Pains of Christmas,” according to singer Bob Rivers is “rigging up the lights.” We disagree. One of the worst things about decorating for the holidays is untangling Christmas lights. Most people have experienced this yearly phenomenon.

Fortunately, there’s a solution. Even better, it’s a cheap and easy one. All you have to do is wrap the lights around a piece of cardboard. Yup, that’s it. It keeps them organized, and it’s super simple to take them off the following season without having to untangle them.

Cover Your Ceiling With A Blanket Of Lights

ceiling lights
Pinterest/bernard0860
Pinterest/bernard0860

Anyone can hang lights on the tree or across the mantle, but why stop there? You can create a constellation of light above your head. For example, if you want to spruce up the hallway in your home, why not cover the entire ceiling with lights?

Simply select a few strands and crisscross them across the ceiling from side to side to create a magical effect. You want to blanket the ceiling so twinkling lights cover the entire area.

Buy New Lights On December 26

Jonathan Mary helps a customer at a Walmart store
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Even if you take good care of your Christmas decorations, including the lights, they wear out over time. The best thing to do is to buy new ones after the holidays are over. If you want to save bundles of money, hit the stores on December 26. They typically go on sale for 50 percent off, if not more.

If you wait even longer, you may get even better deals, and many retailers offer coupons for extra savings. Just plan ahead to make sure you have enough for the following season.

Use A Timer And Streamline The Outlets

Use A Timer And Streamline The Outlets
George Wilhelm/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
George Wilhelm/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Look for an outlet that can accommodate multiple plugs to make things easier. Then you only have to worry about turning on/off one outlet. Even better, use a timer. That way you don’t have to remember to turn the lights on and off manually each night. Costs can add up if you leave the lights on overnight.

With a timer, you can choose how long to keep the lights on, from four hours to eight or more. Just be cognizant of your neighbors, particularly if they live very nearby.

Measure Twice Before Hanging The Lights

Bright lights
Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

This is pretty obvious, but it’s still something you have to consider before you impulsively buy lights at your local home and garden center. Make sure to measure the area in which you intend on hanging the lights. You need to know exactly how many strands you need.

This will prevent overspending and will ensure that you have enough for the project. Don’t forget to measure the area from where you’re hanging your lights to the power source.

Save Money By Using LEDs

Save Money By Using LEDs
Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Depending on how many lights you use to decorate your home, it can get costly if you take into account the electric bill and the bulbs you have to replace on a regular basis. And while LED lights may cost more upfront, you will save money over time.

LED holiday lights don’t use as much energy as traditional light bulbs. Even though you pay more for them, they don’t use as much electricity, and you don’t have to change them as often.

Make Your Own Light Hanging Pole

smiling neighbors
Jim Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images
Jim Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Even if you’re not very handy, you can build your own light hanging pole fairly easily without spending much money. While they are available at box stores, why spend $25 when you can make one yourself? You probably have most of the supplies at your home or in your garage already.

All you need to do is find a pole from a broom, mop, or other implement and affix an adjustable clamp to the end of it with zip ties or tape. This gadget will make your light-hanging duties much easier.

Skip Pre-Lighted Garlands

yard filled with decorations
Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Sure, you can buy pre-lit garland from Home Depot or Lowe’s, but you can make your own for a fraction of the cost. Garland is pretty cheap at the dollar store or Walmart. Simply put your own set of Christmas lights around the garland. Measure it first, and then intertwine the lights and garland.

This is a really cheap hack that will save you money, and it will allow you to choose the colors you want to place on the garland. The next decision you have to make is choosing where to hang it.

Use A Painter’s Ladder For Quicker Installation

use a ladder
DAVID BREWSTER/Star Tribune via Getty Images
DAVID BREWSTER/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Stringing lights can be a pain in the you-know-what. If you’re doing a lot of work outdoors, you may be tempted to use a really large ladder. However, this can be a bit clunky and time-consuming. Plus, when you’re working on a roof it can be hazardous.

We recommend using a painter’s ladder, which is much lighter and easier to move. You can maneuver it around your property without much assistance in order to install holiday lights. If you don’t have one, perhaps you can borrow one from a neighbor.

Use Two Different Bulb Sizes

Christmas light display
Kevin Moore / Contributor
Kevin Moore / Contributor

You can use this tip both indoors and out. If you like using a lot of holiday lights, why not mix it up a bit? One of the most obvious things to do is to use a slew of different colors. But you can also add variety by mixing up the size of the light bulbs.

Remember in the good old days when people used larger light bulbs on their trees? Well, you can still find big bulbs at your local box store. Intersperse small and big bulbs, and you’ll have a much more interesting holiday display.

Wrap Your Kids And Pets In A String Of Lights For Photographs And Holiday Cards

dog wearing lights
Twitter/LisaRottler
Twitter/LisaRottler

If you want to get creative with holiday photos this year, one thing you can do is decorate your kids and pets as well as your house. You’ve probably seen the pictures on Pinterest, and it’s so stinking cute, especially on babies. Simply wrap your children up in some Christmas lights and snap away!

And there’s no reason why adults can’t get into the action as well. There’s no age limit on Christmas spirit, and we think this is a great idea for holiday cards.

Stick To A Plan

Stick To A Plan
Herb Swanson/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
Herb Swanson/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

If you are on a time crunch during the holiday season, one of the best things you can do is come up with a decorating plan in advance and adhere to it every year. That means putting the same length lights in the same spot. It helps if you pre-install small hooks near the gutters. What’s especially great is they’re not really noticeable the rest of the year.

This makes it easier for you to put up the lights each year, which can be time-consuming if you keep changing your mind about the arrangement. And if you do want to mix things up, change the colors of the lights each year for more variety.

Put A Smart Bulb Or Colored Bulb In Your Porch Light

red porch lights
Pinterest/potterybarn
Pinterest/potterybarn

One of the quickest and easiest ways to transform your front porch is by replacing the light with a red or green LED light. If you want to get a little bit fancier, use a smart bulb such as Playbulb, which includes a built-in speaker. Yes, you know where we’re going here. You can synchronize the lights with Christmas music!

You can control the system using an app. This is one way to truly show your holiday spirit, and it’s great fun because you can choose the colors and the music.

Think About More Than Just Lights

A Christmas wreath hangs on the front door
Vickie Flores/In Pictures via Getty Images Images
Vickie Flores/In Pictures via Getty Images Images

Adults and children alike enjoy looking at Christmas lights, but the problem is that you really only see them at night. When you’re decorating your home for the holidays, think about other festive items you can use to make your home appealing in the daytime as well.

Even if you’re not particularly creative, there are all sorts of things you can do. That includes wrapping trees, light posts, mailboxes, and more with garland. You can also put up a wreath and add cheerful bows to things around your home to create a festive atmosphere.

Think Quality Over Quantity

GettyImages-567378175
Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Holiday lights can quickly get out of control. But you don’t have to illuminate your entire yard, home, and property in order to show off your Christmas spirit. Sometimes, less is more. For example, you may just want to put a strand of white lights on the roof line.

Or, you may want to put garland around your front door. Many people also opt for candles in each of their windows. While very simple, these decorating ideas are also classic and present a lovely holiday look.

Don’t Neglect Your Lights After Christmas

Lights on a tree
Pinterest/brilliancel0132
Pinterest/brilliancel0132

When Christmas is over, that doesn’t mean your job is done. The last thing you have to do is remove your lights and pack them away for the following season. A good tip is putting them back in the box they came in (or using cardboard as we suggested earlier). You can use zip ties to coil them up and prevent them from tangling.

Even though outdoor lights are waterproof, store them in a dry, cool place. That will keep them in good operating condition, so you don’t have to replace them the following year.

Turn Off Your Flash When Photographing Christmas Lights

Christmas lights on tree
Andrew Lichtenstein/ Corbis via Getty Images
Andrew Lichtenstein/ Corbis via Getty Images

You may be one of those people who loves going to holiday light shows. Or perhaps your family likes driving around town with the kids to see all the neighbors’ Christmas light displays. Either way, at some point you’ll be snapping some photographs to capture the moment.

If you want the best pictures possible, then don’t use a flash. A flash makes night shots, particularly ones filled with holiday lights, look washed out. If you turn off the flash, you create more contrast, and the lights will look brighter.