Christ­mas lights

A lit­tle plan­ning makes for a beau­ti­ful and en­chant­ing dis­play

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Magic hap­pens

While some home­own­ers may have been plan­ning it for months, di­rec­tor of Glen­coElec­tri­cal,

says it’s def­i­nitely not too late to put to­gether your own Christ­mas light dis­play. But there are a few things to con­sider first. “There is the cost and then what your kids want and how far you want to go with that — and then there’s the pres­sure of what ev­ery­one else in the street is do­ing,” he says.

Al­though there are re­tail­ers that spe­cialise in Christ­mas lights, Brad says stores such as Bun­nings stock a large and af­ford­able range of lights suit­able for out­door use.

“Bun­nings do some re­ally good op­tions and you can get them pretty cheaply and in­stalling them is not hard,” he says.

For good value and max­i­mum im­pact, Brad says you can’t go past fairy lights — lots of fairy lights.

“I love the fairy lights on trees up and down ev­ery sin­gle branch,” he says. “It’s fid­dly to do but it looks amaz­ing.”

Safe pair of hands

Al­though it is well within the reach of the DIYer, there are a few safety is­sues to con­sider says Brad, whose busi­ness is listed with the on­line home im­prove­ment ser­vice, hipages.

“We’ve all seen the Gris­wolds (Na­tional Lam­poon’s Christ­mas Va­ca­tion film) where the lights ex­plode — no­body wants that,” Brad says.

“If you are in­stalling those coloured globes, they can get re­ally hot. You want to be very care­ful be­cause it can cause (elec­tric­ity) over­load is­sues.”

If you have dozens of globes on for sev­eral hours a night, Brad says it can be the equiv­a­lent of run­ning your ket­tle con­tin­u­ously. As tem­per­a­tures rise and we start run­ning air­con­di­tion­ers overnight, Brad says it can re­ally add to your load — and your elec­tric­ity bill.

Be care­ful too where you po­si­tion your pow­er­points to plug in your lights.

“If you are run­ning an ex­ten­sion lead and leave it con­nected out­side where it has ex­po­sure to wa­ter, you could have a prob­lem,” he says.

If in doubt, Brad says it’s a good idea to get some pro­fes­sional ad­vice.

“Don’t play with elec­tric­ity — it can kill you.”

For a com­pletely risk-free op­tion, Brad sug­gests go­ing with free­stand­ing so­lar lights that don’t need to be plugged into any­thing, al­though they do have their lim­i­ta­tions.

“If you said five years ago to buy so­lar, I would have said don’t waste your time,” Brad says. “They would charge dur­ing the day and then you’d get five min­utes of power.

“The tech­nol­ogy is a lot bet­ter now but it still doesn’t have the punch of stan­dard power.”

Style stakes

Be­fore rac­ing off to the near­est hard­ware store, take some time to plan your dis­play, tak­ing into ac­count the style of your house, your lawn space and the fo­cal points in your gar­den.

You may want a com­bi­na­tion of fairy lights, spot­lights and light stat­ues.

While the tech­nol­ogy sur­round­ing LED lights con­tin­ues to de­velop, prices con­tinue to drop but there’s still a lot of vari­a­tion in the qual­ity of light­ing on of­fer.

Street smarts

If you’re us­ing ex­ist­ing lights, check they work be­fore tak­ing the trou­ble to string them up.

Make sure you have a good lad­der on hand, and prefer­ably some­one to give you a hand.

If this is your first Christ­mas dis­play, start small. You can al­ways add to it next year.

While you’re choos­ing lights, pick up a timer as well so they will switch off au­to­mat­i­cally.

It’s Christ­mas. Don’t for­get to have fun.

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