SIX TIPS FOR A PROFESSIONAL-GRADE HOLIDAY DISPLAY
What makes a holiday display go from run-of-the-mill to talk-of-the-town? The difference is in the details.
What makes a holiday display go from run-of-the-mill to talk-of-the-town? Those details matter to Jim Sherwood of General Tree in Beaverton, Oregon, who recently helped the GMC team share some professional-grade holiday joy with several families in the Portland area. In case you’re anxious to deck your halls for the season, here are some pointers from a pro.
Determine your goals. Like every professional project, a well-designed display starts with proper planning. “Keep your audience in mind,” says Sherwood. “Are you looking to entertain the entire neighborhood, or just the family? This might drastically alter where you choose to install your lighting, and what sort of décor you choose to incorporate. If it’s just for you, consider focusing your decorating efforts to an area that’s most visible to your family, even if it’s your backyard.”
Leverage Your Imagination. If your house has a prominent cove, steeple, or other architectural highlight – or if your yard even incorporates interesting landscaping elements – consider highlighting them in your display. But don’t just stick to the time-tested staples of running lights along the edges of your house – think outside of the box. “One display we created utilized standard three-dimensional reindeer figures,” Sherwood says, “but to make it stand out from the crowd, we ran blue lights in an S-pattern on the ground, creating a brook and a small nature scene.”
Branch Out. “What always catches my eye and signals a job well done is how lights are strung on trees,” says Sherwood. “Instead of just looping lights around the outer edges of a tree, consider accentuating the structure by running lights along its trunk and branches.”
Clip Right. The days of mangling fascia boards, soffit, and gutters with nails is long gone. Today, there are plenty of clips specifically designed to attach lighting without harming your home’s exterior. Light-specific clips can help attach strands to shingle tabs, gutters, or even windows, allowing you to keep your lights neatly attached. Magnetic clips are also available for certain bulb types, allowing lights to easily be strung on metallic door frames, downspouts, and so on.
Plenty of Power. While LED light strands use far less energy than the traditional incandescent bulb, it’s still important to ensure your household electrical system is strong enough to power whatever illuminated décor you have outside. If you plan on regularly running extensive lighting outside, if possible, Sherwood says to consider having a 15-20 amp circuit dedicated to outdoor lighting.
Be Safe. “We cannot preach this enough,” says Sherwood. “If you need to climb high to run lights, read up on proper ladder safety first, and ensure any ladder you use is of good quality, in good repair, and planted in a stable/ solid manner.” Of course, if you feel uncomfortable reaching high, don’t – call the professionals instead.