Christmas Outdoor Lighting

As the end of the year approaches, many 'To Do' lists include getting Christmas outdoor lighting set up. Television shows, sitcoms and Hollywood movies often portray the humorous side in this task, with outdoor lighting often posing comical activities.

For example, in the 1989 comedy, "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," viewers laugh as Clark Griswold Jr. (aka Chevy Chase) wires his home to the max, killing the power in the rest of the neighborhood and misdirecting flights as his wife finally turns the right switch on, connecting what appears to be nuclear power to light the display.

With Tim the Tool Man from sitcom, "Home Improvements," viewers witness equally funny episodes during Christmas where Tim tried to outdo his neighbors with The Best display on the block. Yet he often electrocutes himself or others, or somehow destroys the project.

While Christmas outdoor lighting may pose funny issues, there are really not many basic steps involved. To complete this task, try these simple steps:

1) Begin with lighting - do you have what you need from last year? Have a hearty breakfast, lunch, dinner or at least a snack, and then go look! Find any lights you have available. And gather them into one area. If you are short, use this Kmart coupon and possibly save some money.

2) Testing time! In a safe manner (i.e. not standing in a puddle of water), test the strings of lights to see how many work, how many need new bulbs and how many are just ready for retired - the trash. Separate your work, placing strings that are ready to go in one area, strings to toss in another, etc.

3) Next either plan a design using what you have on hand, or check your budget to add more lighting for the season, and review current ads and websites to find the best deals. To determine how many strings you'll need for your home, you can measure the length of the area you want to light up, then add on about another 30 or so feet for extra, just in case. Include not only your house in this measurement, but any trees, shrubs, etc., as well.

4) Once you find the best deal for your lighting, use your measurements to see how many strings of lights you'll need. You'll generally find strings that boast a minimum of 25 lights up to a maximum of 200 lights, with 50 lights per foot with regular bulbs, double with miniature bulbs. Choose your colors and get extra connectors (3-pronnged, if needed - check the strands).

5) Decorate in a safe manner, with someone holding your ladder. Or hire this done by local contractors who advertise this time of year on the classified ads (check Craigslist, too!)

6) When the holiday is over, gently wrap the strands around cardboard to keep strands from getting tangled. Then store in safe, dry place. You can find sturdy plastic and other types of containers at local Wal-Mart and other family stores. Search warehouse odd lots, too, for good buys.

Thus you have your Christmas outdoor lighting: 6 steps to set up your Christmas outdoor lighting. Happy holidays!