Outdoor Décor for the Holidays

The Holiday Time!

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After stuffing your stomachs full of great food, the least of which is turkey, many start to think about the decorations they are going to hang up for the next holiday. With Christmas right around the corner people begin to decorate their homes with lights, colors, and inflatable decorations to be festive as well as grab some attention. Many neighborhoods have contests to see which house will have the best decorations this year. If an entire neighborhood or at least many of them decorate it could end up with people driving through just to look at the decorations. (This is a family tradition for my family in which we all get coffee or cocoa and take a drive through several neighborhoods looking at the lights, and voting for our favorites.) When owning a home, and celebrating this holiday you need to consider a few things when you are going to decorate.

Do It Yourself or Hire a Professional?

It seems like an obvious question and there is a little cost involved in either case. If you do it yourself, you are going to be spending your time setting everything up. Depending on how big your house is, and how elaborate your decorations are it could take anywhere from one to five hours to get the job done. A professional company might be able to do it in less time, and they will use the decorations you already have, or you can pay for ones they will install themselves. Of course, this will drive the price up as they will charge you full retail for all decorations they use. If you have the time, do it yourself, or better yet do it with your kids so that they are involved in the fun. It gets them into the spirit as well as builds their confidence knowing that they helped in decorating. You don’t even have to do anything tremendous since there is a new item that hit the market last year that creates all the lights for you. (Not a fan of this item personally as I like to do it myself.) When you do it yourself you can change your lights where and when you want to, and you can build a theme or change it each year.

A professional however does have all the tools to get the job done quickly and efficiently. You give them the directions and tell them where you want each item and they take care of the rest. There will be fliers posted around town and near the freeway exits as the holidays get closer so you will know who to call, or look in the local paper for results as well. For those with busy work schedules but still want their houses to look festive this could be the right choice for you.

Safety

No matter who does the decorations on the house it is important to think of safety. A professional company will keep this in mind and already know what to do in most situations. If you want decorations on the roof, landings, awnings, poles, trees, and anything else that is up high, they have the ladders, poles and equipment to get it there safely. Do you? If you are going to decorate these high places yourself be sure you have the right size ladder and either a rope to tether you or safety harness to protect you from a fall. Many accidents are caused each year from those thinking they can reach over while on top of the ladder, or those that step on the very top of the ladder instead of just the last step.

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The height is not always the biggest safety issue either but rather getting electrocuted is. Make sure the power is off and no power is going to the lights when you are setting them up. You want to make sure everything is working before you install it, not during the installation. Hooks, nails, and staples could piece the cord and electrocute you when you are not thinking about it. Where gloves if possible to prevent, this and be mindful of how you are connecting everything together and to where it is going. All open plugs from strands that are connected should also be plugged to prevent them from getting wet. When it rains, these plugs can fill up with rain and cause a short, or a fuse panel to blow out in the house, making you lose power.

Energy Cost and What to Expect

Your home is going to use more energy in two seasons of the year, Summer and Winter. The Summer time you are running the air conditioner, fans and anything else you might have to keep cool. The Winter is going to be spent with lights, and heat. Since the heat is generally from gas, it won’t use up as much electricity, but the lights can more than double your electric bill. For example, my average electric bill runs around $50 a month. During the summer this can get to just under $80. However, during the month of December when we have the lights on every night, the bill can reach $100 or more. Consider getting a timer to reduce what you are spending. You can set the timer so the lights come on at dark but go out a few hours later. (I use remote control lighting instead of timers so we can activate the lights from inside the house rather than going out in the cold. All the lights get connected to one or two of these remotes and so long as they are on the same frequency it only takes one controller to control them all.) Or if you remember, turn the lights out an hour before you go to bed. Make this a habit and you will reduce the energy you are using to a manageable level for your bill. Christmas Day is another story and we tend to leave our lights on the entire

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