Christmas Lights on a Budget

We’re going to hang the outside Christmas lights this weekend.  We pulled all the outside Christmas decorations down from the attic, and I’m still coming up with the lighting plan for this year.  We have a variety of items from years past, and it’s time to put them together a little differently.

We aren’t Griswalds, and we don’t have thousands for professional services.  But we live on a corner lot, along the entry street.  Our neighbors do such a lovely lighting display each year, and we’d like to contribute to the welcome ambience.  So we’ll use what we have this year, with very little in new purchases.  (I’d originally planned to budget $200, but things just haven’t worked out to support that.)

  • What I thought was a box of garland turned out to be a box of 4 wreaths with bows.  Hmm?!  I know exactly what to do with them, although I have no idea where they came from.  No garland, though.
  • The colored icicle lights seem to all be working well, and I think I found an extra two sets!
  • We did purchase 8 large plastic ornaments ($5 at Target) to hang in the front tree, something DH has wanted to do for a long time.  However, they aren’t lit, and we’ll need to shine the spotlight on them, but it’ll work.  At this price, we couldn’t go wrong, and we got them before they were gone.
  • Even though some of the net lights are half out, I can overlap them.  Won’t have as many, but I can be selective in my placement. 
  • I’ve come up with a way to more easily decorate the 200′ fence, and it’s going to be a time saver!  This year, we’ll try swagging the lights, tucking behind the pickets.
  • We’re reducing the time the lights stay on.
  • I’m making the lighting plan easier to envision.

In years past, the timers kicked on at 4:30 pm to welcome us and the neighbors home, and we kept them on till 11 or 12 — 7 1/2 hours!  This year, they’re turning on at 5 pm, and off at 10 — five hours.  And with all our comings and goings this year, we’ll be able to enjoy the lights quite a bit.

Long ago I made a sketch of our house and property, scanned it, and printed out a new copy every year to design our lights with markers and highlighters.  This fall, I discovered the way the professionals design lighting displays for homes and businesses:  they take a photo of the building and property, and use a specialized program to graphically impose lighting effects on the photo.  This weekend I plan to take a few digital photos of our house and property, and use B/W draft prints for a more accurate rendering BEFORE our efforts. 

I think what I’m working out is a nice use of what we have, in spite of our squeaky-tight budget.  There’s no reason to go without totally this season.  Just a little cut back, and lots of creativity.

What about you?  Are you scaling back this year?  Adding new items?  Can anything Grinch your Christmas?

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