How to add some twinkle without the tangle! There are some people who go all out just like Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation and others who may only string a few lights on their tree, but wherever your light meter is, here are few simple tips to keep your spirits high!

First, it’s a good idea to figure out what kind of lights best suit you and your style. What is your home decor like year round? Go with lights that reflect this. If your home has more of a vintage feel then you may want to use those multicolor incandescent bulbs like you grew up with, (or that your parents still put up). If you are an energy saver, follow through and purchase LED energy efficient lights.

Now, take a good look at the room you wish to decorate and find the focal points. Where does your eye go to first…the mantel….bannister….maybe a wall of windows? Picture what it would look like. Maybe you just want to stick to tree lights only. If you live in a townhome or condo, check with the management and see if there are restrictions for stringing lights around doorways and on balconies.

Don’t be stingy with the lights on your Christmas tree. I tend to think more like Chevy Chase…more is better! A good rule of thumb is around 500 lights for up to a 7ft tree and another 100 lights for every foot thereafter. That’s not to say that some trees are wider than others and may take more lights. If you are prepared then you will not be making several trips to Walmart in the middle of your tree trimming.

Don’t rush and also consider safety! Holiday decorating accidents account for 15,000 emergency visits each year! Remember things like step stools instead of grabbing the chair that’s closest to you. Outside lights definitely need 2 people so that when you are on that high ladder someone is there with you. Make sure you have a working power strip or extension cord too. It’s easy and quick to just keep connecting each string of lights into one another but connecting too many is an electrical hazard. No more than 500 lights should be connected to each other. Use that power strip!

My biggest and most frustrating thing has been tangled lights!! It sounds counterproductive but take the time to wind up lights into a ball in your hand, starting with the part that doesn’t plug into an outlet. This lets you hold the lights with one hand and place them with the other without the fear of tripping yourself (been there; done that), or knocking over your 10 foot tree,(I don’t want to go there)! Now, plug in the lights so you can see the pattern. And please start at the TOP! Wrap the lights around the tree unless it is in a corner. In that case just go side to side but either way remember to weave lights between the branches close to the trunk for the best effect!

If you are stringing lights outdoors on a tree, wind the lights up in a ball again. Wind the lights around the branch beginning closest to the tree trunk. And for all of you OC people out there, you do not have to cover each branch of the tree with lights. At nighttime, you will only see what is illuminated.

The season is now over and you are ready to take the lights down (hopefully before Valentine’s Day). Do the same thing as you did putting them up. Reverse the process. Start from the bottom, winding each string of lights into a ball as you go. Then pack them away in a labeled box for next year!