How to decorate for the holidays |

How to decorate for the holidays

Erica Kalkofen
Special to the Sky-Hi News
Outdoor decorating, as show in Matt Bailey's work can be subtle or dramatic depending on what you want the final design to look like.
Tim Carter, Carter Photographics |

AH! The rush of the Holidays is upon us. Don’t you just love the feeling of Christmas overwhelm – the presents to buy, the food to prepare, the family to get ready for? Have you also considered the decorations? Yes, outdoor decorations to set your home in the best possible holiday cheer? Before you run out to the store to grab some basic lights and stand on a ladder on ice with a staple gun in the dark, let’s consider some outdoor decorating tips from Matt Bailey at Alpine Landscaping, based in Fraser.

First: Quality

Yes, you can get lights at the store for a reasonable amount and for many, this is the easiest and most cost effective route to take. However, the store bought lights usually won’t last for more than one season and are often difficult to install. “The lights we provide are commercial grade lights and will last for quite a few seasons,” Bailey said. “They also are installed on solid aluminum rods for easy installation, removal and storage.”

Let’s consider the feat of hanging the ‘Edison’ or ‘Exposed filament’ lights that are so popular right now. Sometimes just getting them out of the box in an organized fashion can be difficult, let alone climbing on and off the ladder and stringing them across the patio. The better the light bulb the heavier the glass, which makes them less likely to break during snowstorms. If going for a star pattern over a patio, then there are a lot more considerations – like just how many strands of lights will be needed. Planning carefully and measuring twice for any outdoor light installation will be well worth the effort.

Second: Safety

So you have a ladder and a staple gun – how hard could an installation be, right? Well, if the ‘wrapped tree’ effect is desired, is the ladder actually tall enough and the ground even enough around the entire tree to be safe? Or, is there a sheet of ice where the ladder needs to be positioned, thus making it a bit more difficult to balance on the ladder, pull the string of lights tight and wield the staple gun?

“When we do a full wrap tree, we consider all the safety elements of the job,” Bailey said. “We will often rent a man lift so that we can get to the top of the tree and out to each limb, making sure the guys are safely secured, especially when the ground is uneven.” Bailey said that a full tree wrap can take one person up to a full day to make sure all the limbs are wrapped well and evenly, so the time factor in addition to safety is also an important consideration.

“What a lot of people don’t realize,” Bailey said, “Is there is a bit of math and consideration as to how many strands and how many lights and how much electricity is going to be fed from the outlet. We look for safe, outdoor outlets with a GFI shut off to make sure the house is protected.” After all, getting the ‘Griswold Effect’ of too many lights, dangerous cord plug-ins, and an overloaded system is not a great way to celebrate the Holidays.

Third: Cost

While getting a professionally done full house holiday lighting package may be a bit more of an investment than getting lights at the store, there are some tremendous benefits.

“We do an on-site consultation, then a mock-up, so people know what they are getting, and then provide an estimate,” Bailey said. “With the high product quality and the fact that we install and remove, we offer a maintenance plan, and that we store the lights during the off season, we feel the price is super reasonable. Not to mention the time savings and the convenience.” Commercial locations such as Rendezvous, Village Center and King’s Crossing in Winter Park, have seen the successful installation of Bailey’s light work.

“In the five years that we have been installing holiday lights, we have found that adjusting the lighting package to match a client’s budget is key,” Bailey said. “For example, to get someone started, we can even provide the product and the homeowner can do the installation.” Bailey indicated that he is still open for some smaller last minute projects this year, but September is a great time of year to start getting a lighting package priced, ordered and installed.

Remember, holiday decorating should reflect your style and taste. If that is a simple, battery powered tree and one or two strands of lights, then the time and cost investment will be minimal. However, if the eaves are too high, the ground too uneven, or the desire is for a full-fledged house and tree lit display, make sure you invest wisely and safely by having a professional handle the installation. Happy Holidays and can’t wait to see the final installations!

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