Easy ways to add flair to holiday lights
BY PHIL MULKINS World Action Line Editor
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
11/21/12 at 3:32 AM
There's more to holiday lighting than standing on top of a step ladder hurling twinkle lights at the bottom third of the maple tree branches.
According to the American Lighting Association, there are unlimited ways of adding twinkle to the inside as well as the outside of your home. Many people favor "elegant and restrained," sprinkling lights around a door to "exuberantly bright" on every surface.
Entryway a priority: The front door is more than just the entryway to your home - it's the first impression made on visitors. Add a few, easy-to-install landscape uplights to highlight trees and shrubs, or path lighting for the sidewalk or driveway.
Mary Schulze, who co-owns Garbe's Industries in Tulsa with her husband, Dave, said "the biggest problem holiday decorators have is the expense of hiring an electrical contractor to come in and install electrical junction boxes to handle the added wattage load of these larger displays. But forget all of that - it's expensive. There are different lighting layer techniques, and for the holidays you just need a temporary fix."
Portable spotlights: "The easiest and least expensive way to highlight wreaths or Christmas art or the tapestries people put up or signs placed inside their entryway is 'uplight can' lighting. It just plugs into your standard outlet. This provides a really nice layer of lighting and lights up any wreaths on the interior of your home or reflective decorations for about $15 per can. They give walls a nice, dramatic look for a few cents a day," Schulze said.
Illuminate corners: "Can lights are also placed behind Christmas trees to accent the trees, casting shadows and backlighting decorations. You're also not limited to just an incandescent or LED or CFL. You can put color bulbs in them as well, and that... can give you different looks down a hallway: green and red and different mixtures of colors.
"There are all different types of plug-in spotlights you can get for this, and the least expensive runs right at $15 and they come in colors silver, black, white - they're inconspicuous light sources," Schulze said, "and you can really decorate with them.
"They work with tabletop dimmers and can create pretty silhouettes under Christmas trees, shining up through the branches."
Picture lights: Another source of creative lighting is plug-in "picture lights." They're good not just for pictures but for flat wall decorations like wreaths, quilts, plates, pieces of family artwork or kid crafts.
Swap out lighting accents: Jennie Harris, with Oklahoma Lighting Distributors in Tulsa, said replacing neutral lampshades with red or gold shades softens the lamplight and creates a pretty holiday atmosphere. Replace your chandelier's crystal teardrops with gold, silver or red glass balls or add shade charms (available at craft stores) for added sparkle and fun. If your chandelier has decorative shades on it, replace them with decorative Christmas shades.
Long-lasting LEDs are safe and economical
One hundred million decorative
lights are sold in the U.S. each
year. There are so many varieties
from so many sources homeowners
must ensure they’re getting
both safe and economical options
for their homes, says the Underwriters
When buying Christmas lights,
look for energy-efficient LED
lights that use 75 percent less
energy and last for years longer
than incandescent light strings,
according to the U.S. Department
of Energy’s Energy Star program.
LED, which stands for “lightemitting
diode,” is a small light
source made of semiconducting
materials allowing electrical current
to flow in only one direction.
LEDs are reliable and do not
produce heat like typical incandescent
First used in commercial machinery
and road signs, LEDs are
now common fixtures in everyday
products such as televisions and
home computers. Traditional light
bulbs for homes are also available
with LED technology. Although
LEDs have higher initial expense,
they last years longer than incandescents
and offer long-term energy
savings. DOE estimates adoption
of LED lighting nationally can
deliver savings of $265 billion and
reduce electricity demand by 33
percent by 2027.
This year there are more
energy-efficient holiday decorations
using LED lights than ever
before. While shopping for holiday
decorations, look for lights clearly
labeled “LED” lights. Look for the
UL mark when buying new lights.
Red UL marks indicate “indoor/
outdoor use,” and green UL marks
indicate “indoor use” only.
Whether holiday decorations
are simple or extravagant, important
safety tips still apply. On
bringing holiday decorations out
of storage, inspect lights to ensure
there are no cracks, broken sockets
or loose connections. Replace
damaged light strings with energyefficient
Always use a ladder, not a stool
or chair, when hanging lights. To
avoid falling hazards, keep cords
away from high traffic areas of
your home. Do not overload electrical
Original Print Headline: Adding flair to holiday lights is easy
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There's more to Christmas decorating than wreaths and mantle drapings of pine boughs, pinecones, C9 bulbs and red ribbon, says the American Lighting Association. Try brightening your entryway — outside and in — with baby spots, LED twinkles and can lights to cast shadows, backlight trees, sharpen corners and pop those wall decorations. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World