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How to install outdoor Christmas lights: a step-by-step guide for a truly magical festive look

Let the magical glow of outdoor Christmas lights give your home some seasonal cheer – here’s how to install them safely, and with plenty of style too!

How to install outdoor Christmas lights

Have you ever been halfway up a ladder with numb fingers, a tangle of Christmas lights and no idea how to hang them properly? Don’t worry – we’ve all been there! Once you know the right way to do it, this time-consuming task will become a beloved holiday tradition.

Want garden Christmas decorations and lights? Here are the best outdoor Christmas decorations to make your garden even more magical

What you need

  • Outdoor Christmas lights, mains-powered (if you have an outdoor power supply or weatherproof extension lead) or battery-powered
  • Gutter hooks or decorating clips (see How many clips? to find out how many you’ll need)
  • A ladder
  • A weatherproof outdoor extension lead (if using mains-powered lights)
  • A tape measure 4
  • Batteries (if using battery-powered lights)

How many clips and hooks do I need to hang Christmas lights?

Use the following calculation to work out how many clips or hooks you’ll need to hang your lights:

For lights with lightweight bulbs, such as string fairy lights, divide the length of the cable (from the first bulb to the last bulb) by 50cm. For example, for a 12 metre (m) cable you’d need 24 clips (1,200 divided by 50).

For lights with heavier weight bulbs, such as icicle lights or lights with shades, divide the length of the cable by 30cm. For example, for a 12m cable you’d need 40 clips (1,200 divided by 30).


Total time:

Step 1


Think carefully about the effect you’d like to create with your lights before you get started. You might want to create a hanging icicle effect along the edge of your roofline, highlight your door or porch, or illuminate features, such as the front door or window frames.

Take a moment to position the ladder safely – it needs to stand on a solid, level piece of ground so that you can reach the highest point you’re hanging lights from without standing on the top step. Ask another adult to hold the ladder while you’re up it.

Top tip

Make sure your lights are all working and that the cable is free of any damage before you head up the ladder

Step 2

How to install outdooor chriostmas lights step 1

Attach your decorating clips or gutter hooks to the surface you are decorating at regular intervals. Use a clip or hook every 30 to 50 centimetres (cm). If your lights are heavier, like those with hanging icicle details, space the clips or hooks closer together to support the weight.


Step 3

install outdoor lighting

Plug the lights in, but don’t switch them on yet. Working backwards from the socket, clip the cable into the decorating clips or the gutter hooks. Take care not to pull on the cable, and avoid leaving cables hanging very loosely. Aim for the cable to be snuggly secured but not tugging on the plug socket. Not only is this safer, but it’ll also create a neater effect. You’ll also want to only attach one piece of cable to each hook or clip – use multiple if you’d like to hang many lights in a similar place.

Step 4

Festive outdoor lighting

Work slowly around the area you’re decorating until you reach the end of your string of lights. Make sure that you’ve got a decorating clip or hook in place to hold the end of the string.

Step 5

Take a step back and have a good look at your lights. Are the bulbs evenly spaced? Do you have any droopy cables where you didn’t expect them? If there are any problem areas, now’s the time to go back and make adjustments where needed. When you’re happy with the spacing of your lights, you’re ready to switch them on!



3 of the best outdoor lights

Give your garden a gorgeous glow with these illuminated decorations

Star Stake Garden Lights, £17.99,

Line the path to your door or embellish flower beds with these enchanting stars Star stake lights, £14.99 for five, Lights4fun

Christmas der lights

Position these two copper deer sculptures together to create a winter wonderland scene. Christmas deer with lights, large, £19.95, and small, £15.95, Sparkle Lighting

Outdoor Magical String Light Tree, £85, 7255141

Let this simple tree bring a touch of festive magic to a fence or the side of your house. Indoor outdoor magical string light tree, £85, Cox & Cox

Want lighting in your garden all year-round? Check out our choice of the best garden lights to help create a picture-perfect scene

Or do you want to make your windows more festive? Here’s our favourite Christmas window light decorations


For more Christmas ideas, inspiration and tips check out our Christmas section

Thanks to B&Q for providing the instructions and step photos for this piece