Christmas Lights: Types and Installation Tips


If you are needing some Christmas light ideas, examples of some different types, and installation tips, you’re in the right place.

Planning your Christmas lighting is a wise way to attain the desired effect you are hoping to achieve. Let us have a look at some ideas to get you started.

In case you don’t know, LED lights are great. They are power efficient, give off little heat and last for a long time. And most importantly, they are nice and bright.

home outdoor christmas lights

Planning your lights

It seems like a bit of a waste of time. You know where you want your lights, so why not simply buy a set and hang them up?

I’m a person that loves to take action first. However, I’m here to help you think about a few things before you go out and buy some lights. It will be worth it. 

This will hopefully save you some time doing research on Christmas lights

  • Location: Depending on where you are wanting your lights to be, consider the style of lighting. Consequently, this is essential to avoid making an area look tacky. Hanging any light in an area could make things look overdone or underdone. We will go into this subject in more detail, further along, the article.
  • Mounting: Try and think of everything you would need in order to get the lights hung and firmly set in place.
  • Power: Consider the correct components to get power to your lights. Do you need a long power lead? Or perhaps a multi-plug for more than one power brick?
  • Accessibility: How easy would it be to work in the area of the lights? You may need extra hardware like a ladder or safety harness to get the job done.

That last point is an important one. Please take the time to secure your ladder effectively, before climbing it. Lots of accidents happen simply from ladders not being secure enough.

If you have to work in dark areas or up in the attic or ceiling cavity to run wiring to your lights, get yourself a head torch. It provides good light in the area you are looking at. It makes it easier when working with your hands and not having to carry a torch around with you either. 

Types of Christmas lights on the market

From icicles that hang from your eaves, or the lights for your hallway, which kind go where?

Here is information about the most popularly used Christmas lights.

Icicle Lights

icicle lights
real icicles

Typically, this is more of an outdoor type of light.

This is the perfect light for the roofline of your house. It’s particularly good in areas where you don’t get snow at Christmas time.

They usually are hung just under your gutter area, along with the farthest point of your roof.

LED’s are placed in sets of different lengths, to make it seem like ice has frozen as icicles along the edge of your roof.

Recommended colors (1 being the most recommended): 

  1. White
  2. Blue
  3. Multi-color

Don’t forget to pick up the mount clips that will help you set them up.

Suggestions for easy mounting:

  • Adams Christmas 5150-99-1040 Mighty Light Clip
  • Adams Christmas 9040-99-1630 All-Purpose Light Holder

These are only suggestions, there are many more on the market that you can research and try out. Because clips are so inexpensive, you can buy a small pack and try them out, see how they work for you, before buying a bigger lot.

String Lights

led string lights

String lights are an all-purpose type of light and can be installed anywhere you need to add some ambiance.

In essence, they are LED’s that are placed inline on a line of wire.

Although I have to say, they work really well on your Christmas tree. I have a few hundred LED’s from multiple sets that I always use on my tree each year.

If you place a set in layers, starting from the core of the tree and work outwards, you can have a pretty spectacular looking tree.

Other applications include:

  • Deck edges: A well-placed set of string lights can make any deck look amazing at night time. Run them along the edge of the floor area, or maybe along the guardrail edge.
  • Trellises: You can enhance any garden or even pot plants where you have a trellis setup. Run string lights in any pattern you want, or simply along the border of the trellis.
  • Unlit decorations: If you have your favorite decorative model or anything you like that doesn’t have enough or any lighting, try this. Get out your hot glue dispenser and shape the lights how you want, to give your ornaments/decorations some extra shine.
  • Lettering: If you have any cutout lettering, or any letters written somewhere, you can light them up. Take your string lights and decorate the outside edges of your lettering to give an extra layer of appeal.

Mini or micro string lights are terms that you could also apply to LED string lights. 

Net lights

led net lights

A great option for quickly adding lights to a small bush, hedge or shrub. They also are used to cover any surface, to give a uniform matrix of LED lights.

These types of lights can also save you some time if you need coverage of a large area. A very handy tip from our DIY Christmas lights ideas.

They are useful for both indoors and outdoors.

Other uses for net lights:

  • Walls: If you plan to decorate a wall, a net light can cover a large area easily, giving you an awesome lit base to work from. Anything you place over it will have a glow behind it to give it some extra appeal.
  • Rockery: If you have a retaining slope with stones, blocks or bricks, you can easily and quickly light them up with net lights. Other stony areas near your garden or near a water feature can be another great example.
  • Ornaments: If you have a model Santa Clause, or maybe a reindeer, you can wrap them up in a net light for fast lighting effects.

Tree trunks are also a great way to use this type of lights. I’m sure there are many more ways to use these cleverly designed lights.

These are also available with battery or wired options.

Colors would be extremely context-based. Each situation will be unique. 

However, I have a useful tip: If you cannot decide which color you want for any kind of light, simply choose a white or golden color. It’s neutral so it will always go with anything, especially other lights of a different color.

Rope Lights

rope lights

These are lights that look exactly what the name suggests. Therefore, they are lights that are inside a clear tube.

Rope lights have a ton of uses. Because they are very well insulated, durable and flexible, the applications are very widespread.

Here are some ideas for using rope lights:

  • Create your own characters: You can design your own wire model and attach the rope lights to it using cable ties. The possibilities for the items you can create are endless. You can even design your wire model with a wide loop at the bottom of it, so you can attach it to a wooden block. This makes it possible to stand on its own, anywhere you like.
  • Path edges: You can illuminate the edges of your walkways by using rope lights. They are perfectly fit by design for this purpose.
  • Tree Lighting: Wrap around your tree trunks and branches to make any tree look wondrous.
  • Railings: you can run them along deck railings, along with the sides of steps to provide a meaningful glow.
  • Windows and doors: Run them along the door frames or windows to give extra lighting effect to these awkward-to-light areas.
  • Gates: Easy to mount on your entrance gates. Simply cable tie them around each segment of your gate to gain some easy to install lighting on them.

Now that they are also available in battery-powered versions, it opens the options up to a great degree as to where they can be attached to.

Submersible Lights

Submersible battery power lights create a stunning effect when put in underwater areas in your garden. It illuminates the water feature area from the inside out.

Examples of places for submersible lights:

  • Ponds
  • Swimming pools
  • Fountains and other water features
  • In your bath

They can serve their purpose indoors or outside. The fact that they are battery-powered, cuts down the DIY Christmas light installation to just about nothing. All you have to do is place them where you want. 

Ball Lights

ball lights

Ball lights are very decorative in its design. You can get them strung along on a cable, or you can purchase separate ball lights on their own.

Here are some places you can use ball lights:

  • Front and backyard: Add them to your trees or any greenery in your yard.
  • Garden Edge: Lay them on your lawn’s edge where it meets your garden. It will provide a nice effect on your landscape.
  • Ponds or other water locations: Use the waterproof floating style ball lights to add more appeal to your water areas at night.
  • Mirrors and other furniture: They can also be strung across the room or used around certain types of furniture like cabinets or display cases.
  • Fascia Boards: If your home has a fascia board (in front of your gutters) large enough to secure some lights onto it, ball lights are great for this.

Just be careful never to overdo any lighting. You can easily get carried away and make a place look cheap and tacky. Try to keep a balance and don’t add too many different lights too close to each other. 

Some people also make their own ones, using ping pong balls.

Just take an X-Acto knife and make a hole by cutting a small X into the ball in one place. Then take your string lights, and poke a LED into the ball. Take a hot glue dispenser and seal the hole carefully. Repeat for all the LED’s on the string lights.

LED Candle Lights

led candle

LED Candle lights or fake candles can be used for many more occasions than just Christmas. They provide that extra decorative touch to your environment.

Places to use LED candle lights:

  • Around your bath: When wanting to relax in the tub, sometimes you don’t have candles to burn. So just flick on some LED candles, it sets the mood quite nicely.
  • In the bedroom: You can add a romantic feel quite easily using these lights. Give it a try, set a few up in your bedroom.
  • The study: If you have a room where you like to read, do research or study, having some LED candles around can set up a more relaxing atmosphere for you to take in the knowledge more efficiently.
  • Around your Christmas tree: Who doesn’t want candles around the Christmas tree? This is a great way to have one of the staples, without worrying about fire risks etc.

They are very power efficient and use very little battery power. This is mostly due to the fact that they normally only make use of one LED. You can also put them inside a frosted style glass with melted candle wax dripped along the sides of it for a more elegant, authentic look.

Flood Lights

These lights are great for lighting outdoor trees. Compact, powerful and very energy efficient for lighting power they produce.

They are available in different colors, which can add a lot of spectacular light to your garden. 

While the battery option is convenient, you’d probably want to wire these lights in instead. In most cases, you would only probably be able to get around 15 hours per charge, which seems like a lot of maintenance to me.

Laser projection lights

I’ve listed these lights not so much to promote them, but rather as a word of caution.

My recommendation is to go and take a look at these lights in action, before buying any. I bought a few a year ago and was somewhat disappointed. It just doesn’t add a desirable effect to your house. Maybe it’s just me, but now they are laying in a box in my garage.

The upside of these kinds of lights is the fact that they are easy to install and covers a large surface with light patterns. In that regard, it is one of the easier outdoor lights to use from an installation perspective.

I didn’t enjoy the light shining directly into my house, for a start. Secondly, the light that was projected onto the house seemed too much and wasn’t what I was looking for personally.

You may try them and think it’s great, but I just thought to give you an opportunity to be more careful about your purchasing decision and avoid wasting your precious dollars.

Tips for installation

Here are some tips that I’ve found to give me great benefit when installing lighting.

Outdoor installation tips

In my experience, installing lights outside can be a bit awkward to keep everything perfectly out of sight.

Above all, the type of lights that require power is not always easy to connect up to a power source in a tidy manner.

The main issue is running the wire. Here are some tips to help avoid some of the headaches involving the wires for lights.

  • Underground: Use a handheld edge trimmer to make a deep groove in your lawn. This is perfect for your light’s cable to be pressed into. It will be low enough not to affect your lawn mower and keep it nicely out of sight. The same trick can be applied to any other part of your garden with soft enough ground.
  • Outdoor power: Make sure you have an outdoor power point. Even better when an outdoor power outlet has more than one socket. If not, add an outdoor multi power board. Even better add a smart multi power board. If you don’t have an outdoor power source, you may want to consider getting one installed, it’s handy for many more things than just lights.
  • Under the deck: If you have a deck, run the wires as neatly as you can on the underside of the deck.
  • Down the side of your house: They way that I have run cable for light against my house is by making use of the canal. Run all your lights cabled around your house under the gutter area first, then take them all down one location in some canal. I have screwed one reasonably sized canal on the side of my house. I painted the canal the same color as my house and it always stays there. When I need to add Christmas lights, I simply remove the canal lid and run the cables inside the canal and close it up again.

Where you can, it will always be easier to get your hands on the battery-powered version of lights. And even better, the solar rechargeable kind.

Indoor installation tips

I find this to be the easier of the two scenarios. Running wire inside the house can be tricky in some cases, but for the most part, it’s pretty unforgiving. In most cases, there is a way to run wires to keep them out of sight.

Here are some tips to keep lighting wire out of sight as much as possible:

  • Door frames: Make use of door frames to run cables down the least obvious edge. It gives a clear run down to the floor which eliminates most of your vertical runs. You can also use window frames in a similar manner.
  • Carpet edges: With most carpets, there is a small recess between your carpet and the skirting rails or walls. Gently push your lights cables with a big blunt screwdriver to get them snugly fit into this small gap. Be very careful not to damage the wire with your screwdriver, so be gentle.
  • Spiral cable binding: This is used for cable management. It’s a great way to keep all your cables together and get them running the way you want. Just wrap them around a group of wires that you need to be tidied up. These bindings come in different widths, so you can use the appropriate thickness binding for the amount or thicknesses of your cables.

If you have to run cables directly against a wall, I recommend using Command hooks. This will save you from making holes in the wall or sticking something one that could potentially damage your wall when removing it.

Automating your lights

There are smart LED Christmas lights available on the market. They operate much the same way as smart light bulbs for your home.

The only difference is that they are intended as Christmas lights and not ordinary lighting.

If you don’t have Christmas lights with WiFi connectivity, the alternative way to automate them is by using smart plugs.

This allows you to be turned on or off on scheduled times or when another smart device is triggered. You can also control them using a voice assistant, like Alexa. 

You can add these smart plugs to ordinary light bulbs and LED Christmas lights. No specific smart plug is required in order to control any of your existing lights.

This is simply due to the fact that they work as a simple switch inside that turns the power on or off, using smart electronics to control it.

Automating your lights is an important feature to consider from our Christmas light ideas article.

If you are interested in more uses for smart plugs, you can read about that here.

Other things you might need

Here is a small list of little extras you might need to install your Christmas lights.

  • Extension cables: This could be something you need when installing your lights. It’s especially true when installing them outdoors. Some have extension cables that are sold in packs and larger rolls. Some get as long as 1000 feet or more.
  • Multi-meter: While not essential, having even a cheap one around can help you determine if you have power in an area where no lights work. I would say it’s more of a necessity when using older bulb lights. This would be an easy way to see if a bulb is blown, or if it’s a connection problem. Do not attempt to take any readings while the lights are plugged in. Unless you know what you are doing, this could damage your lights permanently, or cause you to electrocute yourself.
  • Insulation tape: This is only something to be used as a stop-gap measure. If you have something not sealing a connection well enough outdoors, this is a quick and easy way to seal it up for the meantime.
  • Hot glue dispenser: A hot glue dispenser is probably one of my most used tools out of everything else. If you’ve soldered a LED back on a wire and need it sealed, this is perfect for that.

In conclusion to our Christmas light ideas article

merry christmas

Christmas lights, in general, is not expensive if you look at the individual items you can buy for your house. It’s a great project to build upon each year. A small amount of your annual budget can be set aside to expand your lighting.

But yes, it’s not for everyone. I’m assuming that if you’ve stuck around until the end of this article, you enjoy lights, just like me.

I love the enjoyment it brings others when they see lights hung up at my home. Especially the young children. It’s the same reason I enjoy writing the highest quality articles I can, to help everyone who reads them.

I hope our Christmas light ideas list can help make someones installation easier, and what can be more rewarding than that?

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