DIY Guide: Decorating for Christmas

DIY Guide: Decorating for Christmas
For many people, decorations are simply one of the best parts of Christmas and the holiday season. Each year, many memories are made by families that drive or stroll around to check out all the wonderful and unique decorations put up throughout their communities. Whether a house has a complex thematic design or simply a few well-placed strings of lights, Christmas decorations can fill others with joy and get them excited for the holidays.

After seeing so many wonderful decorations last year, you may be wondering the best way for you to join in on the fun this holiday season. Perhaps you have just bought a house, moved into a new apartment, or simply wish to impress your family and neighbors this year. Whatever your reasoning, this do-it-yourself decorating guide from The Christmas Light Emporium can help you elevate your decorations to the next level. Read on to discover the best tips for holiday decorating!

Safety First!

The first thing to consider when preparing to decorate for Christmas is safety. From installing lights on your roof to working with electrical wiring - there are more possibilities of hurting yourself than many people think about. Our friends at have just released a great article on the topic. "By taking precautions and implementing safety measures, you can ensure a happy and secure holiday season. We reached out to the experts to gather their advice on how to implement safety tips to make the most of this holiday season." - read the rest of the article here: Holiday Safety Tips and Tricks for a Stress Free Season

General Christmas Decoration Planning

christmas tree and fireplace covered in lights

Prior to hanging any lights or securing yard decor into place, you will want to do some general planning for your decorations. If you live with other people, then you will definitely want to involve them in this step, even if you will be the main one doing the decorating. It will be helpful to have the input of others, and let’s be honest — it can be easy to go overboard when there are so many exciting decorations to buy! This can be a great way to get the whole family into the holiday spirit too.

Consider Where You Want to Decorate

The first step to planning is taking some time to consider and write down all the areas you wish to decorate. Do you want to limit yourself to indoor decorations, or do you have room for outdoor decorations? Which areas outdoors would you like to decorate? Do you think you want yard art?

During this step, it will help to walk around your living space and consider all the areas visitors or neighbors might be able to see. Think of ways to fill these areas with lights, Christmas greenery, or holiday art. If you live in an apartment, you can still join in on the holiday fun by hanging a string of lights  or festive decor from your balcony or hanging decor in windows!

After you have considered places to decorate and decorations to use, make a list or a drawing to help you remember. This will be helpful when you go to order all the needed supplies, helpful for taking things down, helpful for determining storage needs and, ultimately, helpful when you take them out for decorating again next year.


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Pick a Theme or Color Scheme

Another consideration to make at this stage is whether or not you want to adhere to a particular theme or color scheme with your decorations. When decorations are thought out properly, it can look excellent to abandon any theme and just display the decor you like the most. That said, a theme or color scheme is a good way for beginners to make their decorations look professional and fantastic.

young boy decorating tree

When picking a theme or color scheme, it can help to take a step back and look at the overall design of your house. Do you live in an older home with a short fence in the front yard? A classic theme with garland, wreaths, red ribbons, and large lights might work best for you. On the other hand, if your home is newer you might choose to stick to white lights with icicle strings hanging from the trim. Even if decorations will only be viewed at night, the design of your house matters when picking a theme.

Budget, Energy Efficiency, and Power

Budgeting, energy considerations, and power usage are some of the most crucial parts of Christmas light planning. Spending more than you expected on decorations is never fun, and large energy bills at the end of the holiday season can take you by surprise while making a mess of your finances. Similarly, it can be nauseating to purchase a whole bunch of decorations and then realize you have no way to get power to them.

Set a budget for yourself before you begin to decorate. Remember that the holidays are about making memories with family and plan out what you need to buy so that you have enough in your budget to pay bills and buy all the presents you wish to give. Pay attention to sales and consider buying decorations throughout the year so you have more money available during the holiday season. See our blog post on this topic: 7 Tips for Saving Money and Time on Christmas Lights and Decorations.



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When it comes to power and energy efficiency, you will need to do some research on lights, power outlets, and typical energy costs in your neighborhood. In this guide, we suggest using LED Christmas lights partly due to their efficiency. LEDs can save you hundreds each holiday season because they use less power than incandescent bulbs. 

To get an idea of what your energy usage will be over the holidays, a little bit of math is necessary (Don’t worry! It isn’t too difficult — our elves can almost do it in their heads). Follow these steps to find your energy usage:

  1. Calculate how many watts of electricity all of your decorations will use and then use Google to convert that many watts to kilowatts.
  2. Determine the average amount of time your decorations will be on over the course of the season. In most cases, we suggest keeping lights on a timer and only powering them up for four to six hours per day.
  3. Multiply the average number of hours per day by the kilowatts you found earlier to find the amount of kilowatt-hours (kWh) used each day.
  4. Now that you have the number of kilowatt-hours your display uses each day, you can multiply that amount by the number of days in the season to find kilowatt-hours used per season.
  5. Finally, we are almost done! Figure out the typical cost of a kilowatt-hour (kWh) in your area. In most cases, this can be found on an electric bill. Multiply the cost of a kilowatt-hour in your area by the number of kilowatt-hours you calculated for the season, and you will see how much it costs to power your decorations! (Tip: If your community uses peak-pricing, figure out when peak-pricing hours take place and see if that time overlaps with your display.)


lights on wood floor

Similar calculations can be completed to figure out how many lights to use on each outlet. If you don’t want to do all this math by yourself, remember to involve the whole family. Calculations like these can be a fantastic way for kids to see practical applications of the things they learn in school, and it is always helpful to have someone to double check your work.

Remember that rough estimates are perfectly fine when calculating energy usage, as long as you allow a little bit of wiggle room in your budget. If your calculations show that your display will cost much more than you expected, try working through the calculations again or consider making the switch to LED lights.

Decorating With Christmas Lights

At The Christmas Light Emporium, we absolutely adore Christmas lights. There is simply no better way to fill people with holiday cheer than lighting up a house during the cold, winter nights. We will highlight some popular types of lights below, but if you would like to learn about all the different types of lights that are available on our site, then be sure to check out our LED Christmas Lights Buyer’s Guide!

Mini (M5) LED Lights

Mini LED lights are one of the most popular Christmas light styles sold today, so they are probably what you think of first when you imagine strings of lights. M5 LED Christmas lights can be used indoors or as accent lighting on outdoor displays. They come in many different styles and colors, but they often emit straight lines of light similar to classic incandescent mini lights.

LED C7 Lights

When looking at outdoor Christmas displays, you may have noticed that many of the lights used are larger than lights used indoors or on Christmas trees. In many cases, these are classic incandescent outdoor lights or the far more energy efficient and durable LED C7 lights. LED C7 lights can be used both indoors and outdoors, and they are frequently used outdoors because they emit more light than mini lights. Lots of families also use them on their indoor Christmas tree to create that 'old timey' look.



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5mm LED Wide Angle Mini Lights

Have you noticed Christmas lights that look more like dots than traditional incandescent mini lights? If so, then they are probably 5mm LED wide angle mini lights. These provide a wonderful contrast to traditional lights and have a much brighter point of light that disperses evenly in all directions. This style is the choice of most professional Christmas light installers due to their design flexibility and ease of handling and storage. 

Different Types of Strings

The light bulbs themselves are one thing, but you will also want to consider the types of strings you use for your decorations. We offer some form of all the types of lights and strings listed here on our site. Use the outline below to see which combinations will work best for your home.

Traditional: These light strings are by far the most popular and some of the more versatile strings you can use while decorating. Traditional light strings have lights in a straight line, and they can easily be used indoors and outdoors.

Icicle Lights: When it comes to elegant holiday decorations, icicle light strings are often one of the most appealing choices. These are typically hung around trim and anywhere icicles could form. They provide a wonderful, wintery feel to any display.

Net Lights: Looking for a good way to decorate tree trunks or similarly challenging areas? Try net lights! Instead of the traditional string, lights are fixed to a net which can easily cover difficult areas.

Rope Lights: These give you a fantastic way to light up walkways, the edges of yards, and any decorations in your yard.

Light Curtains: These lights are a little uncommon, but they provide a brilliant illumination and a lustrous sheen to any area where they are used.

Other Popular Decorations

Christmas lights are the backbone of any good holiday display, but you can easily bring your decorations to the next level by thoughtfully using other decor. Below is a quick breakdown of some of the more popular accents to Christmas lights.

Wreaths and Garland

Wreaths and garland are classic Christmas decorations. They create a fantastic way to infuse a holiday display with greenery, and when paired with ribbons, they give a good callback to older displays. Wreaths and garland look elegant during the day, and by using intelligent lighting schemes, you can make them look good at night, too.

LED Decor

outdoor lights on house

LED decor provides a good way to add common Christmas designs to your light-up display. It can be easily hung from a window or affixed to part of a house, and it creates an area to emphasize with your other lights. Whether you choose a Christmas bell, a star, or a snowflake, LED decor can make your home stand out.

Yard Art

You could easily go overboard here because there are so many different types of Christmas yard art available to use. Remember to pick something that fits the overall theme of your display, fits into your budget, and that you have room to use.



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Use The Christmas Light Emporium for All Your Decorations!

At this point, you probably have enough information to make a fun Christmas display that will impress your neighbors and help fill family with holiday cheer. All of the items on this list can be purchased from The Christmas Light Emporium, and we have a vast collection of other interesting and bright Christmas displays. Be sure to explore our collection today to find the best deals on Christmas lights!

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