Watching the light shows pop up one by one throughout the neighborhood is a highlight of the holiday season. It’s pretty amazing how people can use the same basic equipment – strings of white or colored lights – and come up with such varied results. There are no two houses alike.
That being said, there are certainly differences in how the holiday landscape lighting presents itself to the world. If you’re going to invest the time and energy it takes to string all those holiday lights, you want passersby reactions to be a bit more enthusiastic than “Good effort!”
Tips for Creating a Holiday Lights Display That Wins Best In Show
Here are some tips for creating a holiday lights display that makes your house an annual “favorite” for people of all ages.
Have a Plan. The difference between a family that has a plan and one that just strings lights up willy-nilly is pretty obvious. The interesting thing, however, is that both households are doing almost the same amount of work – but with very different results. Instead of just throwing strands of lights up here and there – come up with a plan.
- Light shortages: If you don’t have enough to run a consistent set of lights all the way around the perimeter of your roof trim, fully-illuminate a tree instead and then add a couple more strands to complete the front perimeter next year.
- Color variations: Think about the best use of color. Perhaps the white lights will look best on the house while the colored lights will look festive outlining your trees or a couple of lampposts. Don’t buy too many strands of different colored lights, instead – concentrate on a few complementary colors that you use in balance with one another.
- Play with shapes. Analyze the outline of your landscape – including both the hardscape and plants – and note the variations in shapes. Sometimes it’s fun to tally what you have the most of – triangles, rounds or squares – and then only accent those with the lights so there’s a bit of continuity in the overall appearance.
Create a Theme. Having a theme doesn’t mean you have to set up Santa’s Workshop (although that’s fine too) but it is beneficial to come up with cohesive idea of sorts. Do you want to go all white? How about trees only? How many figurines do you want, and how many is too much? Do you want the overall effect to be traditional, entertaining or modern? It can be disconcerting when a stately home has illuminated garlands wrapped around porch railings and columns (traditional) with a few cheesy blow up toys like Santa and his Reindeer (entertaining).
Think in Layers. Sometimes, a good way to divide your landscape is by thinking in terms of layers, then you can alternate the light colors accordingly. Maybe the bottom half of trees are white while the tops are colored. Maybe the house is white, the shrubs in the front are multi-colored and then individual bushes or hardscape features are each a separate color. This is an organized way to go about it and it will always yield positive results.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Simplicity. There is a man on my street who does the same thing every year. He uses all white lights and strings them around the base and throughout the bare branches – including the individual branches – of three trees in his yard. That’s it – no lights on the house, none on the shrubs and not a single red bow or candy cane to be seen. And yet, the effect is completely stunning – especially in the years when we have a freak snow storm. Moral of the story – simplicity can be a wondrous thing.