Christmas Lights Guide & Tips

Brighten your holidays with lights. Nothing brings out the magic of the holidays like a dazzling display of holiday lights. Whether you're trying to create a winter wonderland in your yard or you simply want to jazz up the interior of your home, the right lighting is essential for a festive look.
Before you begin selecting your holiday lights, consider the following:

  • Are you interested in indoor lighting, outdoor or both?
  • How elaborate do you want your holiday light display to be?
  • How many electrical outlets are available and where are they located?
  • What types and styles of lighting appeal to you?
  • What safety considerations do you need to keep in mind?


Start by thinking about your overall decorating objectives. Measure the areas where you want to hang your lights to ensure you have enough strands for proper coverage. Also consider your style preferences, budget and the amount of time you have to dedicate to the project.

For indoor lighting, simplify set-up and installation by dividing projects into rooms. Outdoor lighting will need to be considered as a whole, but larger-scale projects can be separated into different zones based on the location of electrical outlets. Remember where the outlets are when planning the number of strands of lights you will need. If you do not have GFCI Outlets installed, consider adding them for extra safety.

Indoor Vs. Outdoor Lights

Indoor vs. Outdoor Lights

The majority of lights at The Home Depot are both indoor and outdoor compatible. Outdoor lights are optimized to stand up to harsh environmental elements while maintaining safe electrical connections. Before purchasing holiday lights, be sure you know where they will be located and select only appropriately rated sets.

  • Outdoor-use lights can be used both indoors and out
  • Outdoor displays must use outdoor-use extension cords only

Types and Styles

While traditional incandescent holiday lights are still popular, advances in technology over the past few years have dramatically improved the selection of LED lights. LED lights offer many advantages over the traditional incandescent lights, including:

  • Energy savings of up to 80%
  • A lifespan up to 20 times longer
  • More durable and cool to the touch
  • More strands can be connected together on one outlet or extension cord
Home Accents Holiday

Home Accents Holiday offers an LED light set that allows up to forty-five light sets to connect together on one single outlet. They are available with many different bulb caps and shapes.

Home Accents Holiday

Martha Stewart LivingTM light sets feature continuous on-bulb technology where if one bulb burns out, becomes loose or breaks, the rest of the string stays lit. They are also flicker-free bulbs and come with a variety of specialty decorative caps. Warm white and softer colour bulbs were specifically selected as they perform better than other types of indoor LED lights that can be too bright or harsh inside.

Home Accents Holiday

EcoSmart light sets contain the same features as the Martha Stewart LivingTM sets mentioned above, but additionally offer super bright warm white and multi-coloured LED bulbs, exclusive replaceable water resistant bulbs and commercial grade LED bulbs with sealed husks that block moisture from getting inside the bulb, virtually eliminating rust or damage to the wires and increasing the longevity of the strand.

Get Creative

Get Creative

Holiday lighting can be used to create a wide range of effects, from bright illumination of vintage bulbs to the magical sparkle of hundreds of tiny LEDs. Technological advances have resulted in colour changing LED lights and strands that illuminate in different directions or patterns for an amazing light show. LED lights now enable coverage of up to approximately half a kilometre, so you can light up areas that have been unreachable in the past. Consider lighting the top of your fence, garden or trees for an unbelievably festive and beautiful display.

Installation and Safety

In order to create a safe and memorable decorating experience, there are a few simple guidelines that must be observed. First and foremost, be very careful not to overload electrical outlets or extension cords. Typically, incandescent lights have a limit of 500 lights per strand, which means you can connect 10 sets of 50 lights or 5 sets of 100 lights. But when stringing multiple strands together, consult the manufacturer's instructions and do not exceed the recommended number of connections. Never connect different strands of lights together on the same circuit or outlet, such as a C7 or C9 incandescent strand with a mini-light strand, and never connect incandescent lights with LED lights.

Make sure you test your lights to make sure they are working and inspect all cords and wires prior to installation. Immediately dispose of any lights or cords that show signs of damage or wear.

In outdoor environments, wrap a piece of electrical tape around the connected plugs to provide further protection. For simple attachments to a roof, wall or other surface, look for plastic or plastic-coated fasteners, hooks and clips designed exclusively to hold holiday lighting.

  • Always unplug the lights when you leave the house or go to sleep
  • Automatic light timers can be used to turn your lights on and off at specific times of day
  • Do not run electrical cords along high-traffic areas or place underneath a rug
  • Always work with a partner when using a ladder to help prevent accidents
  • Never place ladders on snow, ice or slick surfaces


After the holidays, you'll want to carefully store away all of your seasonal decorations in a dry place, such as an interior closet. Allow light sets that have been outdoors in wet weather or accumulated moisture time to dry out before placing them in storage. Avoid storing lights and decorations in attics or basements where the amount of moisture fluctuates during the year.

Additionally, keeping incandescent light strands neat and organized can help preserve their life by preventing broken or missing bulbs, damaged cords and messy tangles. As you disassemble, inspect cords and wires for cuts, nicks and other damage. Proper removal of lights will save you considerable time next year when you go to set them up again.

Various types of reels and spools designed exclusively for holiday lights can be purchased. Simply wrap your lights around these devices as indicated and place them in an appropriate storage bin, box or storage bag. If you don't have a reel or spool, try wrapping them around a sturdy cardboard sheet or tube. Be careful not to wrap too tightly as this can put strain on the wires.


UL Listed Lights
Underwriters Laboratory (UL) is an independent testing agency that verifies lights are safe for use under designated conditions. Look for the UL listing on all your holiday lighting purchases.
Commercial Lights For more ambitious decorating projects, lights rated for commercial use can be connected and strung together in longer continuous lengths.
Energy-efficient Lighting Lighting your home and yard for the holidays can add to your monthly energy costs. Look for more efficient options such as LED lights to cut down on creeping holiday expenses while continuing to enjoy your festive decorations.
Battery-operated Lights Illuminate items that are not easily connected to electrical outlets such as wreaths, holiday flower/foliage arrangements and other decorative accents with the use of battery-operated light strands.
Outdoor Decorations Combine your holiday lights with a variety of decorations designed exclusively for outdoor use, such as lighted sculptures, inflatable lawn ornaments and other unique embellishments for a truly memorable celebration.

MARTHA STEWART LIVINGTM and the MARTHA STEWART Circle LogoTM are trademarks of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. Copyright © 2011 Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

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