By James Burns
It is the time of year when the leaves start to turn a palate of different colors, the days get noticeably shorter, the air takes on a hint of coolness, and our minds begin to turn to the essence of the holiday season: Outdoor holiday decorations!
I am not a designer, I have my preferences, but I refuse to get caught between those who prefer simple, traditional and elegant versus those with slightly more flamboyant tastes. That is entirely up to the homeowner and his neighbors. Having said this, I can now say that your taste and style will largely determine the methods, tools, and hardware you will need to get the job done. In other words, I can’t say much about the process, methods or tools for the job.
A few basic tools
It is safe to say that you will probably need a few basic tools for either type of installation. A hammer, a screwdriver and a ladder are almost always appropriate for such work. Before you get started remember to keep safety in the forefront of your mind.
Exterior home decorating safety
Before you start untangling spaghetti like strands of Christmas lights, before you run to the hardware store for the latest in home holiday decoration technology, before you do anything else at all, think about safety! An accident this season could make your holiday a lot less happy, and a lot more costly so follow some basic safety guidelines.
Check your ladder to make sure that it is safe! Are the rungs secure, are the legs even, is it long enough for the task at hand, did you gain an extra 30 pounds during last years holidays that make the ladder unsafe for your new weight? If not, don't move forward until it is properly repaired, or a new one of the right dimensions and weight class purchased.
Before you set your ladder up to climb on top of the house to put up your four times life size Santa and sleigh scene, be sure that you know the location of any above ground power lines, and keep the ladder clear of them! Make sure the ladder is properly extended and properly placed. Having to stretch to reach something when you are on top of a ladder could cause a holiday ending injury.
The same should be done for your hand tools. Make certain that you have the right tools for the job, and that they are in good repair. Don't try to make a screwdriver do the job of a hammer, and don't use a hammer with a loose head.
It should go without saying that electricity can kill you, but not just the high energy lines coming into the house! Before you decide to splice a couple of strands of light, or a power cord together, ask yourself some questions: Will this be a potential shock hazard for children or adults? Will this be a potential fire hazard? Would it be smarter, simpler, and safer just to buy a new one? If you decide to do it anyway, make certain that you are not breaking any laws or codes, and that the power is off before slicing into something that might lite you up like a Christmas tree! Make all connections secure and according to code.
Really, just follow basic safety rules, and use common sense. You don't want to wind up in the emergency room for the holidays.
Another method of decorating
If you lack the expertise to work with the tools and materials for your exterior holiday decorating project, or if you are not sure that you have the tools and equipment needed to perform the job safely, there is another way. Many lawn and landscape companies will install your holiday decorations for you for a small fee. It is sort of a natural fit for them. During the holiday season there is much less lawn care work, and lawn and garden companies try to keep their crews occupied by doing this sort of work to keep things going till the grass starts growing. Such crews are normally bonded and insured. You can simply set down with a cup of hot cider or eggnog while your home gets it's magical holiday makeover.