Here are a few of our favorite tips for purchasing lights this Season. Many of them are common sense. Have something to add? Share it in the comments below.
Mistake #1 Not taking an inventory before shopping
Assess and troubleshoot what you already have before heading to the checkout cart.
Pull out every string of lights, the tree topper, all the bulbs, and all the cords. Early in the year before the Season looms, take a few minutes to do the following checks:
- Gently untangle and strings that have inexplicably tangled themselves up in their storage boxes and totes.
- Examine everything visually before plugging in. Is the insulation unworn and unbroken? Are glass bulbs unbroken?
- Plug in light strings individually to verify all the bulbs work.
- Replace any glass bulbs that have burned out.
- Plug bulbs into cords to verify that everything is lit.
See these articles for more troubleshooting articles:
Mistake #2: Guestimating instead of measuring and not ordering a little extra
Measure and add a little extra to account for swag in the light strings.
Using our handy how many lights should I put on my tree calculator choose your level of light from a few simple strings to way over the top, decide how many strings of lights you'll need for your indoor and outdoor trees.
Measure along your roofline from the ground level. We suggest you walk along your roofline and estimate distances with your feet firmly on the lawn. Add 10-15% to your measurement to account for any small variations in final distances.
Measure around flowerbeds, along driveways, and sidewalks. Add 10-15% to your true lines to allow for a slight amount of dip or swag in your installation. Don't forget to measure shrubs and bushes for net lights.
Here are a few articles to help you estimate the amount of lighting needed for your project:
Mistake #3: Not exploring your options
Take time to research different options as you make your light design plan.
A sampling of questions to ask yourself:
- Bulbs and Cords vs. Light strings
- LED vs. Incandescent
- Net lights or strings for shrubs
Make a choice about going a pre-wire string or bulbs and cords approach
Each approach has its own pros and cons! Here is a quick article to help you choose what's best for your display.
Mistake #4 Not ordering samples when you aren't sure of the color
Think hard and choose your favorite color - including the choice of white!
LED light strings and bulbs come in warm (yellow based) and pure (neutral but looks blue next to yellow). People tend to love one version of white and hate the other.
Not a fan of white? Perhaps you are a traditionalist and want to go multi-color or only red, blue, or green. Or start new traditions with pink, purple, or teal.
Consider planning your Christmas light purchases in September allowing time to order samples to make sure the pictures in your head match what is in your mind's eye.
Trouble choosing? Keep these tips in mind:
Will you be mixing LED and white incandescent glass bulbs? If so, consider using warm white LED lights to blend in with your traditional more yellow-based lights.
Mixing white with blue, green, or red? Consider keeping things bright with pure white LED lights. The current versions of this color aren't the super-bluish color that they were when they were first developed. They are pure or "cold" in a way that paint with a drop of blue in the dye vat makes it look wonderfully wintery.
Read here for more information: