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Smart Tips for Holiday Decorating

The shiny, bright and merry season is upon us and very soon Christmas lights will adorn houses, trees and bushes are far as the eye can see. The jolly elves at Westlake Ace Hardware are offering a stocking full of tasty tips to help you safely add extra twinkle to the holiday season. But let’s get a popular question out of the way first. That question is, “Why can’t I plug my regular 2 prong extension cord into the plug end of my Christmas lights?”

  • Play it Safe: Use only lights and extension cords that carry an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label and are approved for outdoor use, which means these products meet industry safety standards and that they will be waterproof. Secure all lights and cords with electrical tape, insulted holders, twist ties or plastic zip ties; never use screws, metal hooks, nails or tacks. If you don’t have experience climbing on your roof, limit your display to gutters, around first floor windows, and small trees and shrubs.
  • Proper Power: All exterior lighting should be connected to a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. This outlet style will shut off if it’s overloaded. If your home doesn’t have this style of exterior outlet, either hire a licensed electrician to permanently install one or use a TRC Yellow Shockshield GFCI Portable Plug.
  • Get A Step Up: A sturdy ladder is a must if you expect to safely create a winter light wonderland of light for you and your family. Better yet, enlist a helper to steady you as you hang lights—plus you’ll be able to reach branches more easily when decorating a large tree or shrub. Shop our extensive line of ladders for the home.
  • Start Small: Remember that everything you hang in November and December will need to come down in in the chill of January, so don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you’re a novice to exterior holidays lights, start small and keep it simple. A well lighted entryway, small bushes and shrubs, or a single tree makes a huge impact and serves as a focal point in your yard. As you get more experienced and acquire more lighting products, you can add to the display in future years.


  • Out With The Old, In With The New: As you test your light sets for burned out bulbs before installing them, you may notice that some strings are no longer in working order. Now is a great time to recycle old incandescent strings and replace them with energy efficient LED lights. Today’s LED Christmas lights come in a wide array of colors, shapes and sizes, including more traditional C-9 and C-7 shapes. The initial cost of replacement is a little higher with LED bulbs, but the new strings will last for many years and will use a fraction of the electricity that incandescent bulbs require.
  • Add Extra Sparkle:  Think beyond light strings this holiday season when decorating. The LED Kaleidoscope Spotlight (available in multi-color, white or blue) and LED Light Flurries add dimension and interest to any lighting display. These products can be installed quickly and, if you’re pressed for time this holiday season, can be used in lieu of traditional string lights to create a subtle, sparkling display that will be the envy of the neighborhood.
  • Dress Up the Unexpected: Look for ways to dress up found and overlooked objects in your yard and garden.
    • Mound the base of empty planters and window boxes with a string of LED lights and top with fresh evergreen bows and small branches (left either natural or painted) to create a natural glowing display.
    • String lights through garden arbors and archways.
    • Fill lanterns with weatherproof ornaments and lights to create additional interest on the patio and near the front door.


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