House & Home

Try Alternatives to Traditional Christmas Lights

It’s the holiday season, and you know what that means: days of frustration as you wrestle with half-dead strands of lights, slip off the roof and cause a power outage for the entire neighborhood. But, before you decide to Scrooge it up this year, consider new, low-stress options for holiday displays. Small fixes and big innovations mean it’s easier than ever to celebrate the season with a festival of lights. You might enjoy decorating with some of the new tech that this season has in store.

You can choose the classic lights, warm white or multicolored strands glittering along the eaves, but if you’re getting up on that ladder, you must invest in plastic clips. Do not go the old-fashioned route, hammering the wires into place. This is a recipe for disaster, and the plastic clips cost far less than a medical bill. In fact, the insulated clips offer greater versatility, clipping to gutters, roofing and siding, all without damaging your home’s exterior. You can find them at any local hardware or garden store.

Hiring a professional is a smart move. Companies like Southampton Christmas Lights Inc. can handle rooftops and trees as high as 40 feet, leaving you more time to enjoy that beautiful, classic illumination.

Be careful when investing in lights. Pick outdoor lights labeled “UL” (Underwriters Laboratories). The lights with this label are certified waterproof and safe for outdoor use. Only use outdoor rated extension cords, as these are able to withstand the harsh winter weather, and plug into GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlets to prevent against shock due to moisture. If you’re looking for a safe way to control power to your lights, wireless power controls like the GE Z-Wave Wireless Lighting Control can manage the power to your lights from any mobile device. Opt for the outdoor model, and stop wondering if you’ve left your lights plugged in.

Some new tech toys are making holiday light displays easier than ever. Products like Lumenplay offer the ability to fully customize the colors and patterns of lights, all from one easy-to-use app. Just string the strand of up to 500 lights, plug them in, and let your imagination run wild. You can even customize the light display to blink in sync with music. It has never been easier to be “that house” for the holidays.

For a greener holiday, check out some solar-powered light options. Power streams from a lawn spike containing a solar cell, freeing your yard from a knot of extension cords, and your wallet from towering electric bills. Solar powered lights come in a variety of colors and are available at most holiday retailers this year. If solar isn’t your thing, simply making the switch from traditional to LED lights can save a lot of energy. Because LEDs last longer, they also cut down on waste materials.

If you’re searching for a string-light alternative, but still want a stunning light display, consider that holiday light projectors are becoming increasingly popular and affordable. Light Show’s new App Lights include color projectors that flood surfaces with streams of multicolored light. They are controlled and designed through the Light Show app. You can keep the lights solid, or have them flicker and change in a variety of patterns. For something simple and celestial, Star Shower is a laser light projector that casts thousands of multicolored “stars” across any surface. Use it on your home’s façade, or let the stars scatter across hedges, fences and trees. A single Star Shower projector can cover up to 600 square feet with glittering red, blue and green.

For railings and fences, a light garland is a beautiful option. More substantial than a single string of lights, the garland drapes nicely and gives an elegant glow to places previously unadorned. Try simple white, or opt for a playful red and green to pay homage to those old boughs of holly.

You can decorate your trees and bushes with net lights, or your can wrap the trunk, but if you want something simpler, try pre-lit outdoor ornaments. Starlight spheres are light globes that come in a variety of colors, and can be hung from your trees’ branches. A classic cousin of the starlight spheres are Moravian stars. Moravian stars were once only glass light fixtures gracing foyers and porches. Now, they are also made of durable plastic, allowing them to survive the winter winds. Plastic Moravian stars are available in many colors, but the plain white stars are by far the most classic. The soft golden-white starbursts offer an enchanting feel and a warm winter glow to any space they adorn.

Get creative! Don’t bah humbug. There are endless lighting combinations to choose from this year. Elegant and festive designs are easier than ever, but over-the-top light displays are enjoyable too. Have fun, out-decorate your neighbors (but be nice!), and may your home have a beautiful holiday season.

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