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10 Christmas Light Hacks to Make Your Spirits a Little Brighter

These handy tips will make decorating with Christmas lights so much easier.

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Brighter Christmas Tree Hack Via Kellyfitzsimons__ TiktokVia @KellyFitzSimons__/Tiktok

Make Lights Look Brighter

A recent viral TikTok video revealed an easy trick to make Christmas lights look brighter.

The basic premise: As you add the lights to your tree from the bottom up, lay them in a zig zag pattern on top of the branches rather than wrapping them around the tree. Not only will this make for a more spectacular light display, it’s easier to remove the lights when you’re taking down the tree.

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Christmas light hanging hookFamily Handyman

Make a Hook for Putting Holiday Lights on Tall Trees

If you’re trying to hang lights on a tall tree, you might find it difficult to safely line up the ladder in the right spot. To help with that, add a simple hook to the end of a paint roller extension pole, like the one pictured above.

Make the hook with part of a coat hanger or other heavy-gauge wire. Embed it in the threads on the pole, bend it into shape and secure it with duct tape to keep it from sliding down the pole.

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better DIY holiday light clipsFamily Handyman

Make Better Holiday Light Clips

Hanging outdoor holiday lights means finding a way to fasten the strands to your house. Create your own inexpensive and long-lasting holiday light clips with a staple used for electrical cable wiring.

Just snip the staple in half and fasten it to your fascia or trim with the remaining nail. It will hold the wire securely while making it easy to slip it behind the clip.

The best part? These clips hold up year after year. If you have metal fascia, use stainless steel screws so they won’t rust.

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Hang holiday lights from the gutterFamily Handyman

Hang Holiday Lights from Gutters

Gutters also happen to be great for hanging holiday lights, and you can do it without a ladder in some cases. You’ll need an 8-ft. 1×2 board or something similar, a strong magnet and some galvanized steel plumber’s hanger strap.

Cut the hanger strap into 7-in. sections, bend the sections into hooks and attach the hooks to the string of lights every five feet or so. Next, attach the magnet to the 1×2 with a screw and hang the hooks on the gutter one at a time.

This is more difficult on a two-story house. You’ll have to screw two or three 1x2s together to reach the gutters, and ‘grabbing’ the hooks with the magnet as they hang far above you is trickier.

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christmas tree lights bulb testerFamily Handyman

Test the Christmas Light Bulbs

Do yourself a favor and pick up an inexpensive light tester.

After you unpack the lights (and before you hang them up), plug them in to see if the strand works. If only half or none of it lights up, you may have a bad bulb. In that case, you can quickly identify the problem with the light tester. It’ll save you a lot of time compared with going bulb by bulb through the strand.

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Christmas lights fuseFamily Handyman

Buy Extra Fuses

Christmas lights not working? Another common cause is a blown fuse.

Most light strands, whether LED or incandescent, have a pair of fuses in the plug behind a small sliding plastic cover. Usually, can you tell if a fuse is blown just by looking at the filament inside. But if you can’t see anything, swap in new fuses to see if the lights work.

In any case, you’ll be glad you have extra fuses on hand rather than making one more trip to the store during the holidays.

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Christmas lightsIBL/Shutterstock

Take a Picture of Your Light Display for Next Year

Are you pleased with how this year’s holiday light display turned out? Good! You should be. After all, you worked hard on it. But what about recreating it next year? To make that a little easier, just snap a picture of this year’s holiday light display as a guide for replicating it.

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Blinking Christmas Hack with a Red tip bulb via VizNelly TiktokVia @VizNelly/Tiktok

Use the Red Tip Bulb to Make Blinking Lights

Ever wonder what the little extra red bulb that comes with a strand of lights is for? It’s not just a spare; the red-tipped bulb is a blinker. Just swap it in for one of the lights in the strand and you’ll have a string of blinking or flashing lights.

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Holiday light storageFamily Handyman

Store Lights on a Hose Reel

To keep your outdoor holiday lights from tangling and make putting them up easier, roll about 30 strings onto a portable hose reel with wheels and a handle. Pull the lights around your yard and roll off as many as you need.

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Cardboard spool for Christmas lightsFamily Handyman

Holiday Light Spool

Here’s a great way to store your holiday lights tangle-free after you put them away for the year. Take some strips of cardboard and cut out a slot on each end, making a spool of sorts to keep the lights from slipping off.

Ryan Van Bibber
Ryan Van Bibber is a deputy editor at Family Handyman. He's been DIY'ing since he was a kid. A resident of Santa Fe, New Mexico, he is especially proud of his aptitude with a swamp cooler, repairing stucco and engineering makeshift shade. As a career journalist, Ryan covered the NFL for more than a decade, worked as a senior editor at Outside as well as writing and editing buying guides and product reviews for several national publications. When he’s not working, you can find him on the trails with his family and two very good dogs.