LIGHT UP THE HOLIDAYS
MAKING YOUR HALLMARK – OR GRISWOLD – CHRISTMAS DREAMS COME TRUE
Growing up one of my family’s favorite holiday movies to watch was National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. My dad always got a kick out of seeing the main character, Clark Griswold, and all of his mishaps installing lights — falling off his ladder, bulbs blowing and power shortages. While it’s fun to sit back and laugh at this Christmas light escapade, it’s probably not something you want to deal with in your own life.
Whether you love bright and tacky or classy and cohesive, lighting up the holidays doesn’t have to be so hard.
Hiring a pro?
WHERE TO START
So what does it look like to hire a professional to help with your outdoor lighting? Who do you call to take on such a task? Local companies that specialize in caring for the exterior of your home, such as power washers and landscapers, can actually be amazing resources for decorating for the holidays.
All Lit Up, a new division of local family-owned sister companies All Washed Up and All Sealed Up, specializes in full-service lighting design, installation, removal and storage in Lynchburg. According to owner David Hamel, the light installation division of his company came into fruition somewhat organically. Since there was a demand for professional light installation in the local area, and his team was already proficient in scaling rooftops and climbing tall ladders, it just made sense to add Christmas light installation to their repertoire.
WHAT’S THE PROCESS WHEN WORKING WITH A PRO?
It starts with the design. Some homeowners have that Hallmark image in their minds and want something immaculate and stunning. Others are at a loss and don’t even know where to begin. During the consultation process, your lighting team should work with you to decide on the perfect design that fits your home and style preference.
“We have a Shutterfly book with a lot of pictures from last year, just to help them see what’s available,” Hamel said. “My salespeople are all trained in design and helping design what you want.”
The first step of the process is deciding what color lights to use on your house. And we’re not just simply talking about whites vs. color. There are warm and cool shades of white, classic colors or more vibrant LEDs.
After the lights have been chosen, you can decide what features of your house you want to accentuate. Popular locations include the gutter line, the roof peaks and smaller trees.
You might also choose to wrap smaller trees, such as Crape Myrtles and oaks, with lighting for a classy, yet magical aesthetic. “Every row is angled the same, every spacing is exactly the same, it’s symmetrical,” Hamel said. “You’re not going to look at it and go, ‘Charlie Brown did that.’”
Another aspect that helps with keeping everything clean and symmetrical is the fact that Hamel and his team are able to customize the lights to fit each individual house. “We cut everything to fit your house,” Hamel said. “You don’t see extension cords running everywhere, everything is hidden and tucked away and you can’t see it.”
According to Hamel, the best part of installing someone’s holiday lights is seeing their reaction for the first time when the lights come on. Hamel said he had one client tell him that when she came home at the end of the day, she would stop about 30 feet out from her house and just park and admire her lights. “A lot of people like to do this not just for their families, but for the whole neighborhood,” Hamel said. “…it just makes people feel good.”
For some homeowners, putting up lights and decorations themselves brings joy and unleashes creativity. You might take a do-it-yourself approach because you love it — or it better fits your budget. Here are tips to make the job more doable!
- Measure twice, buy once. Decide where you want to install lights and measure to be sure you buy enough to cover the space.
- Draw a diagram. Make a map for yourself so you have a plan for where the lights will go and how they will connect to your electrical outlets. HGTV advises buying lights with 6-inch spacing for a “fuller look. Using that spacing, you can then calculate the materials needed with this equation: distance/6 = number of lights needed.
- Put them to the test. Before hanging any lights, plug them in and be sure all the lights come on.
- Hold tight. Use clips to install along the gutter line or zip ties to hold lights in place on branches.
- Stay safe. When installing the lights (which often requires a ladder), always have a helper nearby. Also consider placing a GFCI stake in the ground as your power source. Pay attention to connection limits and only buy outdoor-grade lights. If you’re not sure about your electrical capabilities, consult an electrician or lighting pro.
- Be tech-savvy. Use a smart plug to control the lights from your phone. Or use a traditional timer at the power source so the lights come on automatically.
Whether you hire a pro or go DIY, light up the holidays this season — Hallmark or Griswold style! You’ll be making the neighborhood a bit merrier for all.
Local locations for lights
Lynchburg is not lacking in shimmering light displays along its streets. Listed below are just a few of the many locations you can go to see beautiful light displays in the area and beyond:
- Bright Nights on the Bluffwalk in Downtown Lynchburg is an immersive holiday spectacle full of dazzling lights, large-scale installations, festive music and more. This eight-week experience runs Nov. 19, 2023 – Jan. 14, 2024. Visit downtownlynchburg.com/bright-nights for more details.
- Christmas Lights Display at The Elks (Former Elks National Home) in Bedford — Begins in December and runs from 5:30–10 p.m.
- Christmas Light Display at Liberty Lake in Bedford — runs from Nov. 23 through Jan. 1, around the clock.
- Celebration of Lights at Riverside Park in Lynchburg — runs from Dec. 1 through Jan. 1, from 5 to 9 p.m. (No vehicles on special event nights.)
Lights beyond the Burg
- Richmond Tacky Lights Tour — You and your friends can hop on a comfortable, climate-controlled bus to view the best holiday light display in the Richmond and surrounding area. For more information and booking tickets, visit discoverrichmondtours.com/richmond-tacky-lights-tours/.
- Illuminights in Roanoke — Explore Park’s Winter Walk of Lights runs from Nov. 18 through December (closed some dates) starting at 5 p.m. Tickets must be purchased in advance for this event and can be purchased online at roanokecountyparks.com/545/Illuminights or over the phone at 540-387-6078.
- Fashions for Evergreens at Hotel Roanoke — runs from November through December daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Delta Dental Dickens of a Christmas — The event takes place on the first three Friday nights in December. During night one, the Christmas tree lighting takes place on Salem Avenue in the Plaza behind the Market Building. The ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m., and the lighting of the tree takes place at approximately 6:20 p.m. ✦
Note: Events are subject to change, so check for updated details online.