Ah, the irony of holiday decorating—you love making your house beautiful so much, you create ugly holes all over it in the process. But pinholes could be the least of your problems… you can also rip off shingles, gutters, and more. Sometimes we get too caught up in the moment to stop and consider alternative methods for hanging holiday décor. All it takes is a small investment in some reusable hooks and hangers.
Where are the most popular spots to decorate your house?
It’s never a good idea to put nails or staples into your shingles. Not only do staples require restapling every year (and nails will rust!), but winter is already a hard time for your roof. Don’t create an opportunity to form a small roof leak (which can lead to big disaster!). You also risk compromising your mortar, wood trim and vinyl when you take a hammer or screwdriver to it.
As much as Quality Built Exteriors is happy to come make repairs to your home when needed, they’d rather see you keep it intact! So here are some ways we recommend hanging decorations outside your home with minimal risk of damage.
Use Light Clips
I’m a white-lights devotee, but I know there are many of you out there who prefer colors. No matter the style, you can easily hang them along the edge of your roof or your gutters using inexpensive light clips. There’s a style for every need, including:
Shingle-Edge Clips (LEFT)
Under-Shingle Clips (RIGHT)
Gutter Hooks (LEFT)
Under-Gutter Clips (RIGHT)
Here’s a handy guide for selecting the right type of light clip
Clothespins also work in a pinch!
I love this super-cheap and handy idea for attaching lights to your eaves or soffit, as shown in this photo. They certainly won't last as long as plastic, but in addition to the cost savings, they have a certain nostalgic charm. I've seen wooden clothespins at the dollar store, so check there first.
Wrap Columns & Railings
You’d be surprised how often I notice screw-in clips holding garland or lights around the pillars on someone’s house. Sometimes it takes only a creative tuck of the end to hold it in place while you wrap, and then physics will do the rest! I’m partial to wrapped railings, not only for aesthetics, but it’s also practical because it lets your guests easily see where to grab hold while climbing your front steps. Remember, we sometimes get ice in Hampton Roads before Christmas!
Use Suction Cup Hooks on Windows
Glass is a great surface for suction cups, and many have surprising hold power. You can hang a wreath on every window, or even on your front door if it has a glass panel. Be sure to get a quality suction cup though, as I'm sure you've had the same experiences I have with cheap ones.
Try Over-Door Hangers
This is an old trick but a good one. Personally I don’t care for the clear acrylic holders because they can cheapen the look of your decorations… I guess the idea behind them is that they would be invisible, but of course they are not! I recommend decorative hooks with a design on them that complements your wreath or other hangings, such as the snowflake hanger in this image.
Pop in Brick Clips or Siding Clips
I admit that I only discovered siding clips last year, but I’m excited about all the possibilities they provide… not just during the holidays! If you have a front porch, it’s a great way to add a little personalized Christmas sign or hang something else inviting (like this rustic snow shovel). Brick clips also prevent you from damage, instead of drilling into the mortar.
Have a Plan
Sketch a diagram of your house, showing the lines and angles where you want lights to hang.
Measure any straight line you want to adorn with lights. Use this information to decide how many strands you’ll need. Be sure to also measure the distance to your outlet (measure twice, decorate once!)
Decide how many lights you want on your shrubbery. Too few can look skimpy, and too many could be a fire hazard (or crush your plant!). A good rule of thumb is 100 lights for every 1-1/2-ft of tree or shrub you want to cover. So a 6” tree will need at least 400 lights.
Be consistent in the placement of your clips, and pull the light strings slightly taut for the best presentation (look how orderly and lovely the final effect came out on this home!). It all comes down to just some basic forethought. Being haphazard with your exterior decorations not only can look awkward, but it come with more risks‒ditto for trying to rush through the process. Take your time, be deliberate and careful in your work, and try to consider it part of your holiday celebration.
Melissa James is "The Exterior Enthusiast" for Quality Built Exteriors. She has written about home decorating and improvement since 2005. Learn more.
Got a question or comment for Melissa? Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org