How to choose outdoor Christmas lights

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There is no doubt outdoor Christmas lights and decorations are rapidly growing in popularity.

Online retailer Festive Lights told Avant Life that sales of Christmas outdoor lights are up by a huge 48 per cent on last year. So if you have yet to buy any outdoor lights to adorn your house for the festive season, you might well be in the minority!

So why are outdoor lights so popular and what are the benefits? The British Psychological Society has pointed to one piece of research which shows that people can use exterior decorations on their house to show their neighbours their household is friendly and welcoming. But on the flip side, another study shows that 11% of people said “bah humbug”, wishing their neighbours would not decorate the outside of their homes.

With this in mind, it’s vital you get the balance right between garish and annoying versus tasteful and welcoming. So, we spoke to Festive Lights to find out how to achieve a stunning show that will be the envy of your neighbourhood.

What’s on trend for 2015?

Wire lights or micro LED lights have steadily been growing in popularity, so we expect to see a lot more of them this Christmas. Retro is a big theme this year inspired by the old colourful filament style bulbs your grandmother used to use on her Christmas tree, as well as the Edison type bulbs you’ve probably seen in countless interior design magazines. You’ll also see a lot of festoon lights on home exteriors – these have been a staple at weddings for a while now but they are bang on trend for Christmas 2015.

How to be tasteful

If you’re going for an elegant look, one of the first things you need to do is make sure your outdoor lights are similar colours, if not the same. Warm white or soft white lights are a sure way of adding a warm festive glow to your home and they never go out of fashion. It’s also important to take into account your surroundings; do you have a small tree or bush you could light up? Could you use lanterns or battery-powered candles to illuminate your walkway or stairs? If so, try cleaning out some old jam or mason jars and place one battery powered submersible tea light inside. This is a great way to delicately light up any area of your garden, but also look great inside on windowsills. Most have timers so you can trust your home will always look cosy when you need it to.

When you look at your surroundings it’s also good to think about the shape of your roof or porch. Icicle lights look best when hung in straight lines. Gable roofs, however, can lend themselves nicely to cluster lights which are basically another type of fairy light that is getting more and more popular each year.

Be safe and be green

Festive Lights says it is a bit of a myth that people’s electricity bills sky rocket when running Christmas lights. Nowadays, with the advancements in lighting and the use of LED bulbs, this couldn’t be further from the truth. LED lights not only last longer and stay cool to the touch, but also use a lot less energy.

To give you an idea of how much outdoor lights costs, Festive Lights said they tested a standard outdoor display of 588 LED bulbs using the company’s connectable low voltage lights last year. It worked out that if the lights were kept on for six hours every night for a month, it would only cost an extra £2.32! Not quite the crippling costs you might expect.

Final tips

Finally, our main tip for using less energy this Christmas is to use timers and to swap any old filament bulbs to LEDs. Not only do filament bulbs cost more to run and use more energy, they can also be dangerous as they tend to get quite hot.

So, whether you go for the toned down approach or opt to go all out with a giant snowman and Santa Claus outside your home, outdoor Christmas lights will certainly add some festive cheer to your neighbourhood.

Festive Lights sells a range of exterior and interior Christmas lighting and decorations, available from their website at http://www.festive-lights.com/christmas-lights/.