Hanging Christmas lights outside your home is a wonderful way to create a festive atmosphere before you even enter the front door – whether your style is big and bold or subtler.

By taking a little bit of time to make sure you have the right items for the job and know how best to go about it, hanging lights outdoors can be a simple, pleasurable and successful activity.

In our step-by-step ‘how-to’ guide, we show you how to safely hang Christmas lights outside your home.

Outdoor Christmas Light Checklist

  • A tape measure (to measure the total distance from power source across the area you wish to hang with lights)
  • Christmas lights suitable for outdoor use (mains operated if you have an outdoor power supply, battery-operated if not)
  • Batteries (if you are using battery-operated lights)
  • Relevant fixings (e.g. if your lights will trail over a gutter, choose gutter hooks)
  • Weatherproof extension cable (if power supply too far from where you want to hang your lights)
  • Ladder
  • Friend to support you while on a ladder

What type of lights do I need and how many?

When choosing your Christmas lights to hang outdoors, first and foremost make sure the ones you buy clearly state on the box that they are for outdoor use.

Check if you have a suitable power supply point on the outside of your house. If you do, you can choose either mains operated or battery-powered outdoor lights. If you don’t, only choose battery-powered lights.

To make sure the length of lights you choose suits where you want to decorate, measure the distance from your power supply to where you would like the lights to end. All lights show total cable length on the box. This way, you can avoid purchasing excess lights, or not enough.

Step-by-Step Guide to Hanging Outdoor Lights

Step 1: Prepare. Locate Your Power Supply & Determine Length of Lights Required

You will need to have a safe outdoor power supply available if you would like to hang mains-operated Christmas lights.

Many houses have an outdoor power point. Locate yours and, using a tape measure, determine the distance from power supply to where you intend to hang your lights. You will also want to measure the location you plan to hang lights, so you can determine how long you need your outdoor lights to be. If your power supply is not located close to where you want to hang your lights, you will also need an extension lead that is suitable for leaving outdoors in November-December.

If you don’t have an outdoor power supply, simply choose battery-powered Christmas lights instead.

Step 2: Check Your Christmas Lights are Working

It would be heartbreaking to go through all the effort of hanging your lights only then to discover that something is not working. So, plug your lights in now and make sure they are functioning perfectly.

Step 3: Check Your Safe Ladder Working Height

Falling off a ladder could do more than ruin Christmas, so always work on the safe side. If you need a ladder to hang your lights, make sure you can comfortably reach the highest hanging point without having to stand on its top step and that the ladder is placed on solid ground. Recruit a friend or family member to help support the ladder while you are using it.  

Step 4: Attach Decorating Clips or Hooks

Space your clips or hooks at regular intervals, making sure they comfortably support the weight of your lights.

Step 5: Clip Lights into Hooks

Now, hang your lights. First, plug them in at the power supply – but don’t switch on yet. Then, take the power supply as your starting point and work your way across the hanging area from there. As you place the Christmas light cable into the clips / hooks, you want to make sure the cable is reasonably tight, although not so much so that it pulls at the power supply.

Keep going until you reach the end of the Christmas lights and snuggly hold the end with a clip or hook.

Step 6: Check Your Spacing

Once you’re done, stand back and check your spacing. If you are happy with the effect and you have a neat, reasonably tight cable, your work is done!

All that remains is to turn the lights on once it gets dark, have a celebratory toast and declare the festive season ‘open’ at your home!