Whether you just want the gentle twinkle of fairy lights around your window sills or you’re trying to out-do your neighbours by creating a full-on winter wonderland in your front garden, nothing brings out the magic of Christmas quite like a dazzling outdoor light display.
However, before you begin planning Christmas lights to rival Blackpool Illuminations, here are a few things you might want to consider first.
Before you buy your outdoor Christmas lights, plan out your display first to determine roughly how many sets of lights you’ll need.
Top tip: If you’re wrapping your lights around a post or tree trunk, wrap a piece of string around it then lay the string flat to measure the length you’ll need.
Buy lights that are suitable for outdoors
When buying your Christmas lights, always make sure that they are suitable for outdoor use. Only lights specifically made for the outdoors will be able to withstand the typical British weather and tough winter conditions. So, come sleet or snow, your display will still shine bright.
Choose the right rating
When choosing any kind of outdoor lighting, it’s important to look at the IP (Ingress Protection) rating. This rating is marked by the letters ‘IP’ followed by two digits. The first digit indicates the level of protection against solid objects getting into the light, and the second relates to how much moisture the light can withstand.
When choosing outdoor Christmas lights you should look for a minimum IP rating of 44. This should be much higher if your lights are at risk of coming into contact with sprinklers, fountains or other water sources.
Think about how to power your lights
Another thing you should consider when buying your Christmas lights is how you’re going to power them. Whether you have indoor or outdoor power sockets, work out the position of the lights to ensure you will have enough cable to reach them.
Alternatively, you could always opt for battery powered lights instead. Or you could even go for solar powered lights if you really want to save money on your energy bills.
Choose LEDs over traditional incandescents
Not only are LED outdoor Christmas lights more energy efficient than their traditional counterparts, they’re also far safer.
LEDs only use about 10 percent of the electricity that incandescent bulbs do. An incandescent bulb uses about 90 percent of its energy heating up its filament to produce light, whereas LEDs produce very little heat, which makes them less of a fire risk.
LED outdoor Christmas lights also offer much more variety, with lights that sync to music or blink in specific patterns.
Choose your style of light
There’s so much more to outdoor Christmas lighting than just plain old fairy lights. These days you can find all kinds shapes and sizes to suit your style. Typical lights include:
String lights are the most traditional kind of Christmas light. With a variety of lighting displays to suit your desired look, string lights can be used to add a touch of sparkle anywhere. They are available in a range of lengths and a wide array of colours, from classic white to multi-colour.
Silhouettes are great for adding an element of fun to your Christmas light display. You can use silhouettes individually or create little festive scenes with them. They look great on your front lawn, on walls or even on your roof. However, they can be quite awkward to attach so be sure to take care if you’re on a roof.
Rope lights are great for creating clean, simple shapes. You can use them to outline your windows or door frames, and you can even create a contemporary alternative to a Christmas garland. For added sparkle, you can also find rope lights that are designed to twinkle or have lights that follow each other to create the illusion of motion.
Net lights are a great solution for decorating trees or shrubbery. Essentially, each light or string of lights is spaced evenly like a net, and can be wrapped around a tree or bush easily, saving you the time and hassle of using lots of sets of string lights.
Let there be light
Armed with all the information in this guide, you’re now ready to create your very own Santa’s grotto, and take on your neighbours in the battle to be the Christmas light champion of your street.