How to Decorate with Christmas Lights

Christmas lights are one of the best ways to create a festive atmosphere, and these days you need not be limited to just a string of lights on the Christmas tree or in the front window. You can obtain lighting displays in the shapes of reindeer, Christmas trees, Father Christmas, sleighs & more. You can obtain strings of Christmas lights in single colours, or combinations of colours. They can be used to create a variety of lighting effects, including  waves, sequential, slow glow, chasing/flash, slow fade, twinkle/flash, steady on, or in combinations of such effects.

They can be hung along the facias or guttering of houses (and gazebos or pergolas), strung along the ridgelines of roofs, strung along verandah rails, and entwined among the foliage of trees and shrubs. The possibilities are endless.

These days, installing a Christmas lighting system is an easy project. Lighting kits are readily available which include globes, cables and a transformer that plugs into a household socket to provide safe, low voltage lighting. The kits are portable so if you’re not satisfied with the results of your first installation, you can easily move them.

Remember at all times to ensure that all cables and their attachments are not placed where they can be tripped over, or walked into (hung too low), or left dangling on the ground, or in puddles. If you are plugging transformers into power leads tape them firmly together using electricians tape (purchased readily from a hardware store) to minimise the risk of moisture getting into the connection, and to keep them firmly attached together. If power boards are used make sure they are located where they will not pose a risk to people tripping over them, or playing with them in the case of children.

For added security ensure that your home has an electrical circuit breaker switch connected the power box.

Festive Lights From Mistral

Mistral are one of several big companies that provide a large range of festive lights that are ideal for big events like Christmas or New Year, or to simply highlight parts of your garden at any time of the year. Examples include:

Tree lights - low voltage bud lights are available for decorating outdoor trees and shrubs. The lights are plain or coloured (blue, red, green, yellow and white) and can be used with a controller which allows you to create spectacular lighting patterns.

Party lights (or festoon lights) - these are ideal for creating a party atmosphere in the garden. Just string them around the backyard, or on decks and patios. Mistral’s standard range comes in 10, 20 and 30 piece per-assembled kits with an assortment of 25 Watt coloured globes, which are economical to run.

Net lights - these can be used to make small trees a focal point of the garden. As their name suggests, they come in net form, so they can be draped over the tree to create a stunning lighting effect.

Selections From ARLEC
The following products are from Arlec’s extensive range of low voltage outdoor lighting. They are readily available in hardware and chain stores throughout Australia.

64 Frosted Rope Light – consisting of 64 small, robust, coloured, long-life globes with very bright output, on a 5 metre cable. Plus 2 metres of mains cord from the plug to the first globe.  Strong weatherproof construction, and a controller with 8 different lighting modes including flash, chase, twinkle and fade effects, permanent on, and combination.

80 Clear Spark Lights – consisting of 80 small, clear, robust, weatherproof globes along a 10 metre cable, with an additional 6 metres of lead from the supplied 24 volt transformer (non-weatherproof) to the first globe.

144 Clear Cluster Lights – A total of 144 clear, weatherproof , long life globes set in 48 clusters of 3, and spread along an 8.3 metre cable, with an additional 3.9m of lead between the 24 volt transformer (non-weatherproof) and the first light. Ideal for decorating Christmas trees or the house indoors.

132 Brite Lights – consists of 132 small, robust, coloured (red, blue, green and orange), weatherproof globes along a 10 metre cable, with an additional 5 metres of lead from the 24 volt transformer (non-weatherproof) to the controller, and a further 1 metre of lead from the controller to the first light. The controller has 8 different lighting modes including flash, chase, twinkle and fade effects, in waves, sequential, slow glow, permanent on, and combination.

120 Colored Chasing Bud Lights – for both indoor and outdoor use consisting of 120 easily replaced coloured (blue, orange, red, green), weatherproof globes on 15 metres of cable with an additional 10 metres of lead from the 24 volt transformer (non-weatherproof) to the first light. A controller provides steady glow and variable speed chasing effect.

Develop a Lighting Plan

Setting up your Christmas lighting is easier when you work out a layout. On a sheet of paper, sketch a simple plan of your home and garden, including garden features such as paths, trees, pools, flower beds, statues, etc. Also locate the position of any power points that you can use to plug in your lighting, and mark these on your layout plan.

Work out areas that you want to specifically decorate with Christmas lights. This might include:

  • trees and large shrubs
  • the fascias, and roofs of  buildings, including verandahs, gazebos, etc.
  • windows
  • along pathways
  • garden ornaments and statues
  • water features

Highlight where you are going to place lights on your plan. It doesn’t need to be detailed. A simple sketch plan is often sufficient for you to work out exactly where you are going to place your lights; to help you identify what types of lights you need; and if your design is pretty much to scale to quickly work out what lengths of string-type lights you need, plus any additional cabling or power leads.

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