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11 Holiday Lighting Tips to Have the Best Display in the Neighborhood

Best of all, these ideas are cheap and easy.

Light-bulbsSTILLFX /Shutterstock

Swap out your bulbs

Even your regular lamps can get in on the holiday festivities. Around the house, swap plain light bulbs for colored ones. Warm colors give a flattering soft glow to a room, while cool colors can help conjure up a mood for themed occasions. Here are gorgeous but easy ideas for decorating your mantel.

LightsAlex Sun /Shutterstock

Add visual interest

Using as many lights as you can isn’t the only way to make your Christmas lights pop. Strategic placement can make your house the star of the block, says Nikos Phelps, president of Utopian Landscapes and Christmas Décor of Harrisburg. “If we’re doing a house, we’re trying to tie the roof in with the ground so we have different layers of lighting,” he tells HGTV. He recommends putting lights on the fascia (where the gutter attaches to your roof) as a focal point.

DecorationsAn_Alex /Shutterstock

Get glitz without electricity

String lights aren’t the only way to add some shine and sparkle to your display. A simple string of tinsel or silver bells can give off light without wasting any electricity, points out Don’t miss these other 18 holiday decorating mistakes you didn’t know you were making.

Christmas-lightsFotomicar /Shutterstock

Play with color

White bulbs give your home an elegant, soft look—but they’re not your only choice for a tasteful holiday lighting display. Stick with all-green, or a red, white and green combination, suggests Phelps. “One of the most unique combinations is green and blue,” he tells HGTV. “You stop in your tracks when you see that.” Find out how these 10 small towns with the most Christmas spirit celebrate the holidays.

FireLukas Gojda /Shutterstock

Put safety first

A nice-looking display should always come second to safety. Electric and lighting equipment are involved in 35 percent of home Christmas tree fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. (Here are 12 more secrets your Christmas tree wishes you knew.) To cut your risk of a mishap, look for a UL label on string lights, which indicates a third party has tested the safety. If the label is red, you can use the lights outside, but a green label means they should stay indoors.

Christmas-lightsHomeArt /Shutterstock

Bulb size matters

Miniature string lights are cheaper and take up less energy than larger C7 and C9 bulbs, which are two to three inches from base to tip. The larger bulbs give holiday lighting a more retro look, while smaller ones feel more modern; pick whichever fits best with the aesthetic you’re going for. Just keep in mind that the entire string might go out when one miniature bulb dies, but only the burnt out bulb is affected on a C7 or C9 string, according to DIY Network. Check out these 8 clever ways to store Christmas decorations once the holidays are over.

Christmas-lightsMarcia Straub /Shutterstock

Don’t make things difficult

You can make your shrubs glow without stringing lights between individual branches. Net lights make the whole process a lot easier. Just drape the light-studded net over a bush, and soon the whole plant will be twinkling.

Christmas-lightsxbrchx /Shutterstock

Go bright

For a holiday lighting display that really wows, swap out your old string lights for an LED version, which is brighter than traditional incandescent bulbs. Not only do they make your Christmas decorations more eye-catching, but their low energy use can save you money—up to $104 over ten years, and they’ll last for about 40 seasons, according to As an extra bonus, they’re also less likely to break or start a fire than incandescent bulbs. (This is what to do if your neighbors leave their Christmas lights up too long.)

Christmas-lightsFFirstzuii /Shutterstock

Create a winter wonderland

A simple swap can make the string lights on your porch a little extra special. Using dangling icicle lights will make your home feel like a winter wonderland, even if it won’t be a white Christmas. Here are more winter decorations to put up after Christmas.

Christmas-lightsMartazmata /Shutterstock

Shape up

Christmas lights that look like snowflakes, starbursts, and other festive shapes look festive no matter where you hang them. You’ll have a striking display with minimal effort. Find out if your vintage Christmas decorations are actually pretty valuable.

Christmas-lightsNordcry /Shutterstock

Add a unique twist

“Find illuminating inspiration in unexpected places,” says Better Homes and Gardens’ Christmas Ideas editor Ann Blevins on Try wrapping string lights around house columns, or drape them over any year-round decorations. Battery-operated lights come in handy if the spot isn’t near an outlet, says Blevins. Plus, read these 12 cute ideas for displaying holiday cards instead of shoving them in a box.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

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