6 Tips for Professional Looking Christmas Lights

September 21, 2023

When everyone thinks of a great Christmas light display, oftentimes people refer to the Clark Griswold house. Although a classic, even Clark could’ve done a few (or many) things to make his lights look even more professional. Here are 6 tips for your display this year.

DIY Christmas Lighting Tips

1. Use the right cord.

The first mistake people make when purchasing their lights is buying the wrong cord. Instead of going to your local hardware store and buying several boxes of C7 or C9 stringer sets that only come in 25 or 50-foot sections, do yourself a favor and get yourself some Bulk light line, also called “empty socket light line”. This can be purchased by the foot or in 500’ or 1,000’ spools, allowing you to just measure how much you need, cut the cord, screw in the bulbs and then slide on a male and female plug (don’t worry, this is easy! The plugs simply slide onto the cord). The one thing you will have to choose is your socket size (C7 or C9), the gauge of the cord, color, and space between sockets. Here’s a quick guide:


–       Cord socket size: For most perimeter lighting, C9 is most common. If it’s a small structure, C7 is fine

–       Gauge: SPT-1 or 2 refers to the thickness and insulation of the cord. SPT-2 is thicker. It all depends on how long the display will be up. If it’ll only be for the short holiday season, SPT-1 is recommended. If they will be up for 3 months or more, SPT-2 is recommended. For all-year lights, invest in a heavy weight cord with nylon sockets.

–       Color: Most common color is white or green, but at times you can find brown or black; however, it typically comes with a pricier tag. This is all a personal preference

–       Socket spacing: This can range from 4” to 36”, with the most common being 9” for larger perimeters and 6” for smaller structures with more detail.


2. Choose the right bulbs.

LED lights are more mainstream and often look more professional, but oftentimes the ones you find in the store are quite expensive and have a lifespan that won’t impress you. SMD LED bulbs, on the other hand, offer a higher lumen output for a lower energy consumption. This makes them shine brighter, use less energy, and have a longer lifespan of up to 7+ extra years! And if you’re someone who prefers the soft warm glow of incandescent bulbs, they even have options for those. Despite the advantages that LED’s provide however, they can sometimes be too much for the wallet. The good thing about incandescent bulbs is that the electronics involved aren’t as complex.


3. Check your bulbs before installing.

This is an obvious one, but oftentimes forgotten. The last thing you want is to hang up a string of lights just to find it’s not working properly, so make sure to check each strand and each bulb for any dead ones


4. Set your environment up for success.

Because of the amount of roof clips and zip ties you’ll have to carry (we will get to that next), wrapping a toolbelt or some other waist-bag around your waist can really come in handy. In addition, have a bin with all of your supplies (cords, bulbs, etc.) so everything is within arms-reach. This will avoid the annoying trip up and down the ladder or scaffold each time you need the next item. Lastly, using ladders and a scaffold can be helpful in installing your lights more efficiently. This way, you won’t have to move your ladder every couple feet.


5. Get roof clips and zip ties.

Believe it or not, there are “good quality” and “bad quality” roof clips, and oftentimes your local store will sell the bad quality ones that don’t grab the bulb tight enough to get them straight and crisp. There are several online vendors that do sell professional grade clips if you’re looking for a really crisp setup. Look for an all-in-one clip or screw on clip that will help grip the bulbs enough to keep tension on the lines. When using your roof clips, every single bulb will get one if you want that perfect look. In addition to roof clips, zip ties will also be your best friend depending on the type of cord you have. For example, if you are using those 25’ or 50’ stringer sets, you might have long leads in the cord. A zip tie can help tie things up if anything is dangling.


6. Hide your extension cords.

Hiding your extension cords will bring your entire light display together and really make it sharp. You can use gutter downspouts to hide the cords by running the extension cords behind them and out of street-view, or you can even use the gutters by bundling your cords with zip ties and tucking them into them. Just make sure you are placing them in a way that will allow the water to still flow through the gutters and where the actual plug won’t be sitting in water.


Now that you have all of our secrets, what are you waiting for?! Get out there and start setting up those lights so that you can have the best display in town! We can’t wait to see what you create.

Professional Holiday Lighting the Right Way

Do all the steps above feel like too much work? Take the safer and more cost-effective route of hiring a professional. Apply Pressure will handle all your Dayton-area holiday lighting needs at a variety of package prices to fit your needs.
Contact us today for a quote.


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