Outdoor Christmas Lights and Decorations

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ThankYouJack
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Outdoor Christmas Lights and Decorations

Post by ThankYouJack » Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:52 pm

We haven't hung a lot of lights in the past but my kids want to this year. Any tips for lights / decorations to buy, especially things that make setting up as easy as possible.

livesoft
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Re: Outdoor Christmas Lights and Decorations

Post by livesoft » Mon Dec 02, 2019 7:07 pm

Lights in the ground that outline your front landscaping beds along with static displays of whatever: reindeer, santa, giant bulbs. Wreaths on your windows.

Not lights on your roof. And you don't need those moving laser lights nor the inflatable things.

Drive around your neighborhood and see what you like, then copy it.
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Wilderness Librarian
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Re: Outdoor Christmas Lights and Decorations

Post by Wilderness Librarian » Mon Dec 02, 2019 8:29 pm

Keep it plain and simple. I have only one outside decoration - a Moravian Star ornament which I hang over the front porch. (Different sizes and designs available from Amazon).

Finridge
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Re: Outdoor Christmas Lights and Decorations

Post by Finridge » Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:32 pm

Prioritize indoor lights/decor over outdoor lights/decor... That is where you will spend the most time. Typically, your outdoors lights/decor will only be seen by you and your neighbors, once a day or so, and only briefly, on your evening commute.

bayview
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Re: Outdoor Christmas Lights and Decorations

Post by bayview » Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:37 pm

If you don’t have them already, install outdoor outlets , especially on your porch, deck, etc.

Get timers to plug into these outlets (then lights into the timers) that allow settings of dusk +3 (lights come on at dusk, go off three hours later, dusk +6, D2D (dusk to dawn, I.e. all night long )

Among other lighting suggestions mentioned above, I like electric candles in windows.
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ThankYouJack
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Re: Outdoor Christmas Lights and Decorations

Post by ThankYouJack » Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:44 am

Thanks all. I do have an outdoor outlet, but think I'll go with battery powered lights. They may cost a bit more, but seem simpler especially if they come with a timer.

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lthenderson
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Re: Outdoor Christmas Lights and Decorations

Post by lthenderson » Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:49 am

We go with strand lights that hang on hooks I screwed into the eaves. Installing the hooks the first year takes some time but subsequent years go really fast putting up and taking down. We just use regular lights and then plug them into a wifi outlet adapter that controls the on and off to how you like them so you never have to do anything until it is time to take them down. Can't imagine futzing with dead batteries in cold weather, possibly from a ladder would be easier.

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Kenkat
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Re: Outdoor Christmas Lights and Decorations

Post by Kenkat » Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:57 am

I don’t see how battery powered lights would work outside unless you didn’t use them much - otherwise you are going to be changing batteries every few days. A few strands of lights on some bushes and/or a couple of light up trees hooked to a simple 10 dollar timer plugged into the outlet is easiest. Start small; you can always add stuff later.

livesoft
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Re: Outdoor Christmas Lights and Decorations

Post by livesoft » Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:01 am

Battery powered lights should not be a problem if the batteries are rechargeable. I use bike lights that are rechargeable and have used the same batteries for several years now.
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Shallowpockets
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Re: Outdoor Christmas Lights and Decorations

Post by Shallowpockets » Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:05 am

This is because your kids want lights this year. How old are they? What is their attention span. Maybe one string of lights over a bush would suffice before they get bored. Something simple. I would not go out of my way to emulate some large display. Then it becomes a thing and every year you be out there in the cold alone, without the kids, doing this chore.

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Kenkat
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Re: Outdoor Christmas Lights and Decorations

Post by Kenkat » Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:06 am

livesoft wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:01 am
Battery powered lights should not be a problem if the batteries are rechargeable. I use bike lights that are rechargeable and have used the same batteries for several years now.
You would still need to take them out of the display, recharge / replace them every few days - which is fine - but seems like a lot of extra work to me.

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Outdoor Christmas Lights and Decorations

Post by RickBoglehead » Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:08 am

Battery powered lights, depending on where you live, may not work. Cold saps the life of a battery very quickly. Rechargeable batteries do not like to be frozen either.
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planetmike
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Re: Outdoor Christmas Lights and Decorations

Post by planetmike » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:09 am

The outside strands I have are solar rechargable. Happens automatically. Only downside is that on cloudy/rainy/snowy days that evening they don't turn on. 72 foot strand was $40 at Amazon, still working great after three years. https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01EHPO0C2/

Broken Man 1999
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Re: Outdoor Christmas Lights and Decorations

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Tue Dec 03, 2019 11:56 am

Outside the casa DW has:
-put Christmas bell decorations on the lights on each side of the garage door, and the light for the front door.
-hung a wreath she crafted on the front door.
-lined our sidewalk from driveway to our front door with 27" candy cane lights.
-hung garland with lights and bows around the large window in the front of our casa.

Inside the casa DW has:
-hung Grinch picture in foyer.
-hung Merry Grinchmas sign on my bedroom door.
-decorated four Christmas trees. (one 7.5 feet, the other three are 3 feet tall).
-hung garland with bows and lights on the stair rail.
-placed nativity set on fireplace mantle.
-hung a wreath she had crafted on the back door.
-hung garland and stockings on shelving unit in sun room.
-put various decorative items on hearth.
-placed decorative figurines and my Christmas tree on top of my desk hutch.

Still to do:
-hang personalized stockings on rod running under mantle.
-whatever DW adds this year. I'm pretty sure she isn't finished, yet.

I'm very OK with her going a bit crazy during the holidays. Holidays mean a lot to both of us. I love these times when our families are doing a lot of activities together, especially when the grandchildren are on Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks.

I see the reindeer yard decorations have been mentioned. We had a set of three, but every year at some point in time we would notice the buck was behaving badly, mounting the other reindeer. DW was not amused. DDs always pleaded innocent, but I'm not convinced they were guiltless. We still put them out until the lights started burning out.

'Tis the season, for sure. There is a young man in the neighborhood who decorates his front yard with abandon. His home brings in many outside folks who are cruising around looking at all the decorations. He has a low power radio station you can tune to with your car radio, and many of his lights are synced to the music. This year he has a banner stretched from his house over the street to the neighbor's house across from him.

Broken Man 1999
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bhchica
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Re: Outdoor Christmas Lights and Decorations

Post by bhchica » Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:47 pm

We have other decorations as well, but this is simple: a few red and green spot lights on stakes in your lawn aimed at your house that bathe it in holiday color.

IMO
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Re: Outdoor Christmas Lights and Decorations

Post by IMO » Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:49 pm

Regarding things to buy:

You missed the boat. The time to buy xmas decorations is after xmas for the following year.

wolf359
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Re: Outdoor Christmas Lights and Decorations

Post by wolf359 » Tue Dec 03, 2019 1:09 pm

IMO wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:49 pm
Regarding things to buy:

You missed the boat. The time to buy xmas decorations is after xmas for the following year.
+1

Put some electric candles in the windows. String some lights in the bushes. Keep it simple and low-cost, and have the kids help out.

Then, on December 26, go to Walmart and Home Depot with the kids and pick out the decorations for NEXT YEAR.

goblue100
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Re: Outdoor Christmas Lights and Decorations

Post by goblue100 » Tue Dec 03, 2019 1:11 pm

If you have shrubs, net lights (basically a cross hatch string of lights) are useful and easier than doing it yourself.
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telemark
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Re: Outdoor Christmas Lights and Decorations

Post by telemark » Tue Dec 03, 2019 1:50 pm

I have an apartment balcony with no power outlet available, so have experimented with various battery and solar-powered LED lights. I agree with the advice to use an outlet if one is available: it will cost less and look better, unless you are going for something soft and understated. However, if you don't have an outlet the situation is not hopeless.

Solar powered lights can work well and are very low maintenance; they start automatically when it gets dark and run until the batteries run down. You may need to brush snow off the solar panel occasionally. You want to be able to put the panel somewhere that gets direct sunlight most of the day, and even then on cloudy days you may only an hour or so of use. I started with the G.E. lights from Home Depot, and they were OK for one winter, but the following year the lithium batteries built into the panel had died, and they are not replaceable. I then tried a system from https://www.mrlight.com/ that uses replaceable NiMH AAA cells. This worked well except that my balcony doesn't really get enough sunlight.

I currently use a nice modular system from https://www.lights.com/ that lets you mix and match strings of lights with different power sources, including battery packs, solar panels, and an outlet adapter. I use the 3 D cell battery box with 10Ah NiMH cells: these will run 600 lights for three weeks or longer between charges, but they weren't cheap and they need a special charger. I tried ordinary alkaline cells but they are also expensive and don't do well in cold temperatures. The box has a timer and some circuitry to regulate the voltage.

Also, these are specialty items and tend to sell out fairly early in the season; it's probably too late to buy most of them this year. All in all, I think using an outlet is easier :)

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