SUU Blog | T-Bird Nation

How to Decorate Like a Pro

By Southern Utah University on December 17, 2015

IMG_0049.jpgNothing is more magical during the holiday season than twinkling Christmas lights dancing along rooflines and walkways. Since Thomas Edison first displayed outdoor lights in 1880, the tradition of lighting up homes and neighborhoods is honored.

A festive outdoor light display can bring hours of joy to you and your family. However, hanging them can be a less than cheerful experience, if you don’t have the proper tools, organization or plan of execution.

IMG_0044.jpgBen Hohman, Properties and Display Director for the Utah Shakespeare Festival (a professional theatre company located on the campus of Southern Utah University), has been decorating his house for 11 years.  He has an impressive inventory that includes over 46,000 lights, 45 blow molds, 23 inflatables, 100 candy canes, 17 reindeer and a 9 foot custom made wreath. With over 32 organized bins of Christmas décor he is here to help take the stress out of illuminating your home.

For an operation of his size, it is crucial to know exactly what you have, where it is in storage and in what order it all needs to be placed outside. So how does Ben manage this oversized stockpile without tangling the nearly 2 miles of Christmas lights? With the following 10 easy tips.

Here’s how you can give your exterior extra sparkle making the holidays merry and bright.

10 Helpful Tips:

  1. Measure your roofline and know the size of your yard. LED lights are spaced three inches apart, so a string of 100 lights will get you 25 feet.
  2. Tape all the joints between the plugs so water doesn’t sweep in and cause a short circuit. Water and power don’t mix.
  3. LED Lights are more expensive, but are more economical because they use less power, last longer and the bulbs are plastic, so the color won’t fade.  
  4. Before Christmas, some stores have a lighting exchange. Bring your old incandescent lights and get a percentage off new LEDs.  
  5. Have a plan for power. Know where you will run extension cords, how many lights you can you plug into one circuit, and wait until the end to plug everything in, in case you have to rearrange anything.  
  6. Color code your extension cords by length.
  7. Use zip ties and a zip tie gun to hold everything in place.
  8. Use different lighting clips for various areas of the house. Options include gutter clips, shingle clips, or command hooks.
  9. Create a diagram or take pictures when you are finished decorating so you know what goes where for the next year.
  10. Put away your decorations by category, and label all your storage bins. Use an inventory spreadsheet.IMG_0014.jpg

Must have supplies: 

  • Outdoor extension cords
  • Timer
  • Power stakes
  • Ladder
  • Various size clips
  • Zip ties
  • Zip tie gun
  • Electrical tape
  • Plastic wrap
  • Light extension pole
  • Work gloves
  • Basic hand tools

“I love Christmas and sharing that joy with others, which is why I use my holiday light display as a fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation of Utah,” said Hohman. “People are invited to walk through my front and back yard from 5:30 – 10 p.m. every night in December. There’s a donation box at the end with all proceeds going to Make-A-Wish or I encourage people to go on my website and donate.”   

Ben’s two-story house is located in a beautiful historic area of Cedar City, Utah walking distance from Southern Utah University.

For additional photos and video click here.