How to Light Your Hamptons Home for Christmas

Holiday lights at the Dan's Papers office.
Holiday lights at the Dan's Papers office. Photo credit: Tom W Ratcliffe III

Aside from some premature Christmas music at local big box stores in October, the holidays typically arrive in twinkling lights. They begin as brief surprises and then slowly spread their shimmering, festive tendrils across the landscape until nearly everything features at least some illuminated vestige of seasonal joy.

It’s the one time of year we can step out from behind the candelabra and ensconce our homes in such flamboyant glimmer that a neighborhood can resemble a miniature, Santa-themed version of Las Vegas. But this Noel Nevada—or even something more subdued—isn’t always so easy to accomplish.

Jim Frankenbach of Southampton Christmas Lights (and Southampton Nursery) has been installing holiday lights on the East End for the last decade. “I have a bucket truck,” Frankenbach says, explaining that his old LIPA service truck is invaluable for making displays “higher, bigger, better” than your average home installation.

Each year he begins the work, including municipal jobs like the Christmas trees in Southampton Village, right before Thanksgiving and completes most of it by the first weekend in December. It’s a busy time of year and the company serves people who don’t have time to install their own lights or want a pro’s touch. He notes that “like a deli sandwich, some things are better when you don’t have to make them yourself.”

For those who enjoy the challenge, Frankenbach says safety is of paramount importance. LEDs cost more than standard bulbs, but they’re much safer and greener. “Don’t do silly things,” he continues, like overloading circuits, wiring through windows or linking too many light strands—each set will say how many can be put together safely. “The better the product, the more can be linked.”

Frankenbach said white lights are in fashion on Christmas trees these days, but he’s a big fan of using red and white, as he first saw done in Canada, to reflect the country’s national colors. “I love it,” he says. “The two together look fantastic!”

Of course, Christmas trees aren’t the only lights to consider inside the house. Ambient light is of the utmost importance, especially during the holidays, Hamptons interior designer and furniture dealer Todd Hase says. With a few simple changes, the feel of a home can shift from a casual summer pad to a warm winter den.

“Table lamps can really set the mood,” Hase says. He noted that switching out summer lamps for crystal, Murano glass or porcelain table lamps would add an “elegant flair” in place of the more “beachy” vibe. “Any kind of metallic is very popular right now,” the designer adds. “It’s really important for people to seasonally style their home.” The right lighting, including votive candles in varied cylinders, he explained, can accentuate people’s complexions and make everyone more comfortable when the party moves indoors.

As for Christmas tree lights? “Definitely white,” the designer says.

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