How to put Christmas lights on a house: simple steps for a festive glow

Learning how to put Christmas lights on a house will instantly elevate your home's curb appeal in time for the holidays – here's how to do it safely

how to put Christmas lights on a house
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Wondering how to put Christmas lights on a house? We've got you covered. Adding extra sparkle to your home's exterior is a reliable way to impress guests this festive season. And it's not too tricky to do, if you know the proper approach.

Whether you want to go for something subtle or show-stopping, exterior lights are definitely one to add to your outdoor Christmas decor ideas this year. As Nadia McCowan Hill, Resident Style Advisor at Wayfair says, 'Decorating the front of your home is just as important as the inside, as it's the first impression for visiting friends and family and a brilliant way to spread festive cheer to your local community.'

We've covered the best ways to give your plot an inviting glow simply and safely, so that you can create your own winter wonderland this season. And you'll find lots of tips from the experts, too.

Christmas lights on snowy house

Turn your home into a winter wonderland

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How to put Christmas lights on a house in 3 simple steps

'Decorating outdoors for Christmas has fast become an integral part of creating a festive home,' says Creative and Product Director of Cox & Cox, Dani Taylor. 'Today's range of Christmas outdoor products has allowed us to extend our seasonal vision with interior-style standards and scale up to a fun fantastical display or down to an intimate twinkle with ease.'

By learning how to put Christmas lights on a house, you can make your festive decor dreams come true this year. And all it takes is three simple steps.

1. Plan your lighting scheme beforehand

Before you start installing your outdoor Christmas lights ideas to your house, make sure you have a clear plan, including what lights you want, how many you want, and where you want them, as says Bailey Carson, Home Care Expert at Angi. 'These aren't decisions you want to make when you're already halfway up the ladder.

'When planning your Christmas lights, we recommend laying out the strands of lighting on the ground beneath the area you want to hang them. This will allow you to see ahead of time exactly how much of your home each strand will cover, so you can be certain once you start attaching your lights that everything will look the way you're imagining.' Remember, you'll also need to think about where you will plug them in and what those outlets can handle.

icicle lights on house for Christmas

Decorate your roof for a show-stopping scene

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2. Check that your lights work

'Once your plan is in place, test each strand of lights before you attach them,' says Bailey at Angi. 'Waiting until they're attached before plugging them in for the first time could cause a lot more work if anything needs replacing!'

The team at All Round Fun adds that you should check the lead and cable, too. 'If there is any damage to this, you should replace the lights immediately. If the naked wire gets wet, it could be an electrical shock hazard.'

'When you're ready to get started, gather everything you need,' Bailey continues. This includes your lights of course, but also the clips for attaching them to your home, potentially some extra bulbs, and a timer so you don't have to leave your lights on all day or manually turn them on or off every night. 

Christmas lights on house and fence

Layer up your lighting for extra impact

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3. Secure your lights

'While some outdoor light strands come with clips already attached, you can also buy separate clips to help secure the lights to your home,' says Bailey Carson of Angi.

You can attach lights to your vinyl siding, roofline, gutter, or to frame a door or windows. 'Just make sure you're not damaging those materials in the process,' says Bailey. Christmas lights aren't usually heavy, but if, for example, your roof or guttering is loose or broken, you should avoid attaching anything to it, she adds.

If you need to install lights high up, ask someone to help. 'You should always work in pairs when installing Christmas lights, as it can be dangerous to work at height alone,' advises the team at All Round Fun.

'Use the help of the second person to steady the ladder and direct you towards where they should be installed. Remove all distractions so you can safely get on with the task at hand.

'You should always put your ladder on solid, level ground,' they add. And be sure to use hooks rather than cable ties – that way you won't need to take both hands off of the ladder as you install them.

installing Christmas lights on to roof

Always be very careful when installing lights at height

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How to install Christmas lights on a roof

As mentioned, you can use hooks or clips to attach lights to the roof of your home. Dedicated gutter hooks are particularly useful for lighting up your guttering easily, or you can use adhesive decorating clips stuck on to gutters or fascias.

As with any lighting design, the results will look best if the hooks or clips are evenly spaced. Make sure you've used enough and that they're close enough together, so that they can hold the weight of your lights securely.

It's extremely important to take proper safety precautions when installing lights onto a roof, as it can be very dangerous. A stable ladder is crucial. 'Check if all of the steps are intact and always make sure there's someone to hold the ladder for you,' says Deemer Cass, a Christmas tree delivery, installation, and decoration expert of Fantastic Services. Great care should be taken when installing Christmas light ideas for outdoor trees, too. It's also worth considering a light-hanging pole to install your lights – there is less risk involved as you can stay firmly on the ground as you work.

Bailey Carson advises hiring a professional if you're unsure. 'If you're not confident climbing a ladder, or if you just find the whole idea stressful, it's better to bring in an expert. Christmas light installers have years of experience, they can design a light arrangement unique to your home, and most include installation, takedown, and storage at the end of the season. Some will even handle the purchasing for you, so you can be confident your home will look great this season. A pro will also assess your electrical system to make sure your Christmas lights match the capabilities of your home, so you can rest assured that your Christmas light installation will be quick, safe, and stress-free.'

Alternatively, think of other ways to light up your garden with lights that don't involve heights. 'Design your lights in a way that minimizes your time spent up a ladder in order to protect your safety,' says All Round Fun.

Christmas lights on house and on tree

Illuminate nearby trees, too, for a truly beautiful display

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Can you put Christmas lights on a house with hot glue?

If you're looking for an easy way to install your Christmas lights on a brick wall, then consider opting for hot glue instead of clips or hooks. Robert Dyas reveals that it's the simplest way to hang Christmas lights outside, and all you need is a crafting tool.

'Not only is hot glue weatherproof, meaning your lights will stay sitting pretty all through the season, but it's also super quick to apply and easy to remove come January,' the team says.

Here are their step-by-step tips on how to do it:

  1. For heavier lighting wires, apply glue directly to the light socket and hold it firmly in place for about 10 seconds, until the glue cools and sets.
  2. If you're using lightweight LED string lights, rope lights, or icicle lights, you can put the glue on the back of the light clips instead.
  3. To get it off again, just shake the base of the lighting wire to release it from the brick and peel off the old glue – leaving your festive lights in perfect condition for next year.

We'd recommend trying it out in an inconspicuous place first to ensure that your particular type of wall isn't damaged. 

Hot glue is also useful for all kinds of festive crafts. For instance, if you've learned how to make a Christmas wreath using foliage, you can use hot glue to attach extra decor, such as small ornaments or faux berries, easily.

Christmas lights on house in snow

Make your Christmas decor the best on the block this year

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Can you nail Christmas lights onto an exterior brick wall?

As Robert Dyas explains, you can fix your lights onto a brick exterior wall by using wall plugs, metal screw or cup hooks, and a masonry drill bit for your drill. Avoid drilling directly into the bricks which can cause them to crack. Instead, drill slowly and carefully into the mortar, starting with guide holes and then making a hole to fit the straight part of the screw's length.

You can then insert your wall plug before tapping it gently into place with a rubber mallet. Finally, install the screw hook. You can use pliers to tighten them if necessary.

What lights should you use for decorating the exterior of your home for Christmas?

These days, there are tons of options when it comes to festive exterior lights – our best outdoor Christmas lights buying guide has some great examples. But the most popular for hanging on a house has to be string lights, fairy lights, or festoons. You can also try icicle lights, which are a 'subtle and fun way to add lighting around windows,' as says Creative and Product Director Dani Taylor of Cox & Cox. You can use them both inside and out, and many styles are connectable, so you can use as many sets as you need to suit the size of your home. You could also use them to brighten up a gazebo or outdoor building, as demonstrated below.

But whatever style you go for, 'it's important that you choose lights that are specifically for outdoor use,' advises All Round Fun. They will always be clearly marked. 'Indoor lights cannot be used outdoors, as they are not weatherproof.'

Also, as mentioned, you should always check your lights are working properly before installing them, so that you can replace any that are broken beforehand. If you cannot find a replacement, you can accommodate that into your design, adds All Round Fun. Simply double back with the cable so that the missing bulb isn't obvious.

icicle lights from Cox & Cox outdoors

Icicle lights from Cox & Cox can be used to add sparkle to a small garden building as well as the home

(Image credit: Cox & Cox)

More top tips for installing Christmas lights on a house

The experts share some more top advice for learning how to put Christmas lights on a house properly:

  • All Round Fun highlights the importance of using safe electrics. 'You will need an outdoor electrical outlet or a weatherproof extension lead in order to have lights outside, but if you don't have either, long-life, battery-powered lights or even solar-powered ones are a great solution. External electrics will need to be under a cover in order to keep the plug safe from the elements.'
  • 'Pick a dry day to hang the lights,' says decoration expert Deemer Cass. 'Some people even prefer doing it at the beginning of December, before the first snow.'
  • 'Take your lights down at the end of the holiday season,' Deemer adds. 'You might think it's a hassle to put them up each year, but the constant exposure to nature's forces causes more damage than you can imagine.' This should be the case whether you've used them just for your Christmas porch decor, your entire roof, or around nearby trees.
  • 'Don't staple or nail through the light cords,' Deemer continues. 'It might sound obvious, but a lot of people actually do it.' It can result in unwanted injuries, broken lights, and even fire risks.
  • Avoid overloading your electrical system, Deemer adds. 'It might be tempting to light the whole house like Las Vegas, but don't go overboard by using extension cords and plugs.'
  • 'All outdoor lights, be it simple exterior lights or holiday lights, should be connected to a ground-fault circuit interrupter,' says Deemer. 'This way, if there are any spikes in the power or a short circuit, the interrupter will cut the power supply.'