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Decorating your yard and the outside of your house for the holidays is exciting and fun. All the lights and decorations add so much cheer to the cold Christmas season. One of our favorite things to do is drive around the different neighborhoods in the Quad Cities and check out all the fabulous displays. There’s so much creativity on every street! 

Here are a few dos and don’ts to keep you safe while you jazz up your yard this holiday season.


Safety First
Safety is crucial when it comes to outdoor winter decorating.

  • Make sure all your electrical cords for lights strings, lighted holiday decor, and inflatables are in good condition.
  • Make sure to only use lights and extension cords rated for the outdoors.
  • Make sure all electrical connections are clean and dry before plugging them in.
  • Don’t overload your outlets.
  • Be safe on and around ladders. Maintain 3 points of contact, always have a spotter, and don’t risk leaning too hard while on your ladder.


Christmas Decorating Don’ts:

Don’t (ever!) use nails or staples to hang your decor!
There are two risks here:

  1. Nails and staples puncture your home’s protective layers like siding, shingles, soffit, and fascia. Punctures allow moisture to get in, causing mold and breakdown of the structure of your home. 
  2. If you accidentally put a staple or nail through an electrical cord, you could electrocute yourself. Just don’t do it.

There are so many products available now for attaching holiday decor to your home without damaging the protective exterior layers. There are hooks designed specifically for attaching light strings and garland to gutters, siding, doors, and window frames. These hooks are strong enough to hold your decor without damaging your home. 


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Don’t use indoor lights, extension cords, or other electrical decor outside.
They’re not rated for external use and are not built to safely withstand the moisture, temperature, and weather extremes of the outdoors. Only use electrical decor items rated for outdoor or indoor/outdoor use.

Don’t string multiple extension cords together.
Connecting multiple extension cords can affect the wattage capability of each cable. This can introduce the risk of meltdown or fire due to incompatible ratings. 

Don’t overload your plugs.
Overloading your plugs not only blows breakers, but it also adds unnecessary risk. There’s a reason outlet overload flips the breaker; because it’s not safe! As a rule of thumb, don’t stack more than five strings of lights end to end per outlet.

Don’t put heavy decor items on your roof.
If you must put decor on your roof, make sure it is lightweight and appropriately anchored. Heavy items cause unnecessary stress to your shingles and can cause damage. 



Don’t hang heavy items from your gutters.
Most gutters are made from very thin aluminum. They’re super light and are strong enough to handle some strings of lights. However, you can easily bend the aluminum with your bare hands, so don’t hang huge heavy items like holiday wreaths from the gutters.

Don’t forget about the backyard!
You probably don’t need to be extravagant in the backyard, but it’s nice to look out and see some simple lights or decor out there as well. 

Don’t forget the front door decor!
Creating a welcoming vignette of Christmas decor around your front door is fun and gets visitors in the Christmas spirit. You don’t need to get extravagant, but it’s nice to add something festive. 


Christmas Decorating Dos

Decorate early, before the weather gets nasty.
There’s nothing fun about trying to string up lights in a blizzard or attaching garland with frozen fingers. Get your decor items up when the weather is still reasonable. You don’t have to turn your lights on yet, but it’s much easier to get them up when it’s dry and above freezing.

Do check your lights.
If you still use incandescent lights, plug your light strings in to check for burned out bulbs before you take them outside. It’s much easier to replace bulbs before the lights are up on your house. If you have LED lights, it’s still a good idea to plug them before installing in to check if they’re all still working. 

Use non-permanent fixtures for mounting.
Items like zip ties, lights clips, over the door wreath hangers, or magnetic wreath hangers are perfect. They’re durable and don’t do any damage to your house. 

Make it easy to control.
Don’t make yourself crawl around and reach under shrubs to turn things on and off each day. You can use smart products controlled from your phone to turn lights and decor off and on, or you can invest in timers that automatically turn your lights on in the evening, and automatically turn them off a few hours later. Timers will also help you save on your energy bill. 



Weigh down, stake, or securely tie inflatables.
There are some really fun inflatable Christmas decor items out there, but make sure you secure them well! Either weigh them down with sandbags or tie them securely into ground pegs or sturdy structures around the yard. If they’re on the roof, it’s even more important to make sure they’re anchored well. Those nasty winter winds will deliver a beating to inflatable structures, especially on the roof. Don’t use sandbags on the roof, but make sure your inflatable is tied down well enough that it can’t blow away. 

Aim your spotlights well.
There are so many cool options available for holiday spotlights, from dancing lasers with kaleidoscope patterns to projectors that create illuminated scenes on outside walls. These are lots of fun, but make sure you aim them well so they don’t spill over onto your neighbor’s house! You might think the red and green dots dancing across the front of your home is amazing, but your neighbor  probably isn’t crazy about watching them dance across their bedroom ceiling. 

Switch to more energy-efficient options.
If you like the look of LED lights, consider switching to them. They last longer, they don’t burn out, and they use considerably less energy than incandescent lights. They also don’t heat up like incandescent lights do, which means there’s less risk of fire. 

Do use fresh evergreen boughs outside, and spray them with a wilt stop product.
We know plastic garland is easier to use and looks perfectly lovely, but the real deal smells great and is much more beneficial to wildlife. Plastic garland can shed bits and pieces that birds or small critters like squirrels might eat. Plastic decor can also be harmful to animals if used as nesting material. It’s better to use real evergreens for outdoor decor to keep your neighborhood critters safe. Then, apply a wilt stop spray such as Wilt Pruf to keep them fresh and fragrant as long as possible.



Try to keep it coordinated.
If you’ve bought a few strands of lights, try to stick to that brand as you collect more. Colors vary from brand to brand, so using the same brand is the best way to guarantee consistency throughout the yard. If you like themed decor, stick to one theme, or one feature color. When it comes to colored lighting, less is more.

Discard worn or faulty light items.
Don’t try to patch up old light strings with electrical tape. It’s just not safe. If you have a worn or damaged item, dispose of it safely. 

Hire our landscape decorators to get it done safely and quickly.
Our team has plenty of experience applying outdoor decor for entire yards. We’re fast, and we have the right equipment to get it done safely. 

If you haven’t started your outdoor decorating yet, and would like some help with some great ideas and installation give us a call.  We have installed
holiday decorations for the Quad Cities, from lights  to live evergreen boughs and ornaments. Plus, we’ve got everything you need to decorate safely without damaging your home—or hurting yourself!


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