I will now share some advice given to me by my sage mother on how to get started hanging Christmas lights, when you really don’t want to.

There are a couple of prerequisites first: 1) play Christmas music loud enough so you can hear it while you work, 2) pick a day when the weather is fair to middling (so you don’t make yourself completely miserable), 3) phone a friend/spouse and beg for help or at least ask them to hold the ladder, and 4) prepare yourself (set your expectations) for taking them down after the New Year.

Step 1: Locate Your Christmas Lights

This includes also knowing exactly on what and where you’re going to hang said lights. You might want to also make sure you have enough lights to make it worth it, especially if you’re hanging lights outside. Sometimes this can take multiple trips to the store, unfortunately, especially when you’re looking for a bargain. This step can be done ahead of time so you have all of this in mind before you begin.

Step 2: Stand Up

My mother says, to really begin, you must stand up and stop whatever else you were doing. If you skip this step, you may never get the Christmas lights hung. You can spend a couple of moments on this step or 20 minutes, it’s really up to you!

Step 3: Go To Your Christmas Lights

That’s right, make your way over to where you’ve placed/stored your Christmas lights. Once you’re there, according to my mother, stand in front of them and hook a pinky finger around a single bulb. Now, just stand there and think about how beautiful they will look in the dark. Wait! Don’t go rushing for your ladder yet.

Step 4: Make Sure The Lights Work

Now is a good opportunity to plug them in and make sure they work! You don’t want to get off the ladder in a couple of hours after all that work and find out they don’t work, right?

Step 5: Gather Up Your Lights

My mother says the easiest way to do this is to just grab the string of lights and drag them behind you as you head for the ladder. I’m a firm believer this may cause the lights to stop working if you get them snagged on something, shut in a door, or you could even trip on them. Probably better to carry them.

Step 6: Get Your Ladder

Hanging Christmas lights doesn’t always include a ladder, but for me it pretty much always does. I think getting the ladder out is the hardest step of all. Hopefully, by now, your friend/spouse has arrived and you can bribe your friend/spouse to help carry one end of the ladder.

Step 7: Untangle The Lights

Hopefully the friend/spouse you called for help isn’t your spouse or, at this step, you should be careful what you say to him/her as otherwise divorce could be in your future. You don’t have to untangle all the lights at once. Just focus on one strand at a time!

Step 8: Practice Ladder Safety

If your friend/spouse showed up, they can help you with this step. You really should ask them to hold the ladder before you start climbing. Wait! Did you figure out how you’re going to affix the lights? Maybe you should consider hanging lights on trees and bushes only…

Step 9: Turn On The Christmas Music

Turn on the Christmas music. It’ll help a little once the frustration REALLY sets in. If your friend/spouse showed up, it’ll help it seem more of a jolly party instead of work. (Hopefully The Twelve Pains of Christmas by Bob Rivers is on your play list. If not, click below.)

The Twelve Pains of Christmas by Bob Rivers

Step 10: Narrow Down Exactly Which Tree You’re Going to Hang Lights On (Skip Hanging Them On The House)

At this point, if your friend/spouse has brought hot chocolate or hot apple cider, take the time to take a sip and chat about which tree/bush you should hang lights on, and just forget about trying to put lights on the house. It’s probably not worth it anyways.

Step 11: Hang The Lights

Hang a strand or two of lights, take a break, go inside to warm up, but be sure to come back out and finish hanging the rest. Plug them in and see how they look. The next step is inevitable, so don’t struggle.

Step 12: Decide You Don’t Care How Many Bulbs Don’t Work & Call It A Day

There are always bulbs or sections of bulbs that you didn’t know weren’t working when you initially checked or stopped working when you got the light string caught in the door on the way out. Nevermind that now; it’s too late as the lights are already on the tree/bush. You can try to replace a few bulbs, but odds are that won’t fix the problem. My advice is to become a believer in the “95% Rule” – as long as the job is 95% done and the result is mostly functional, your work is done. Just get new strings of replacement lights next year or at the after-Christmas sale!

Now Celebrate!

Pat yourself, and your friend/spouse (if they showed up), on the back and celebrate with Christmas cookies or some other forbidden food.

Step 12a: Discover Friend/Spouse’s Thingamajig That Tests/Fixes Burnt Out Christmas Lights

Turns out a LightKeeperPro can test and sometimes fix burnt out bulbs and strings of lights as well as test fuses. You can also change out bases on bulbs, if you don’t have spare lights with the right base. Sometimes fuses need to be replaced. Now you just have to decide if you want to spend the extra time fixing every single problem in a given string of lights! It does make a fun game, as long as Christmas music is still playing… (Yes, you can have more cookies afterwards.)