Make the season bright, indoors and out

When doing large outdoor lighting displays, use mini-LED strands, LED lights save energy and thus save en electricity costs.

Holiday decorating is going through the roof.

It s getting to where everybody wants to decorate," says Augie Roper, the national sales manager for Holiday Bright Lights. He also owns a local business. Heroes Holiday Lighting, that does commercial and residential lighting in the Omaha area.

Roper says there's an emotional element to the December holidays. It's a time when everyone can come together and forget their troubles.

Because of the passion involved, he says, customers like to make their decorating personal.

"They don't always want to be cookie cutter like everyone else," he says.

Warm white LED lights are the most popular, he says, followed by multi-colors.

Next comes the pure white, which resembles ice, without the blue tint.

"There is more to look at with multi," Roper says. "The variety of colors adds to the displays."

Tree lighting with several different functions, from slow to alternating displays, also is popular.

There are so many products it can be confusing. Here are some tips from some lighting professionals for every area of the house.

FRONT YARD TREES

Lit trees in a front yard draw the most attention to a house, says Brandon Stephens, vice president of marketing at The Decor Group Inc. in Lubbock, Texas.

Lights on a door or across the roof act as a backdrop. If you light a tree, that's the tiling that stops traffic, Stephens says. Using a lot of lights sets a property apart.

Since a large tree requires plenty of light, use mini-LED strands. LED lights save energy and thus electricity costs, so they work wel I for massive outdoor undertakings.

To make the tree look full, string the lights through the branches rather than around the outside, says Ric Robertson, a Christmas lighting guru in California. "We dont want to have to go around the tree and tangle it and make it look like the tree is choked," he says.

Divide the tree into sections and then work from the top to the bottom "That'll create a nice, full tree," Robertson says.

For a different look, Stephens recommends wrapping mini-LED lights up the trunk and then using larger C9 or C7 bulbs in the canopy.

OUTDOOR SHRUBBERY

The key to making lit shrubbery look nice is making it seem organic, Robertson says. He advises against using light nets, which tend to look too perfect. "As far as bushes go, we lay lights in by hand," he says. Use mini-LED lights rather than larger bulbs to make shrubbery look full.

Clear lights remain the most popular choice in outdoor holiday decorating for roof and window lines, but shrubbery is the place to use color, Stephens says. Setting up a pattern of clear and colored lights works well, with every few sections changing to green or red.

"It's a popular place for people to work color back into their display,1' he says.

INDOOR SPACES

Take a look at where the electrical outlets are, says Bob Pranga, owner of holiday design company Dr. Christmas in Los Angeles. Wandering cords will diminish the look and present a potential hazard. Then determine the focal point of the room, he says. Any lighting should complement it

For example, a foyer with a fantastic chandelier should keep the chandelier as the focus, Pranga says. Lighting should be set up symmetrically around it. "Do something even and outline the existing architecture," he says. "That makes it feel warm."

Indoor lighting acts more as an accessory to other holiday decorations than as the primary attraction, Pranga says. He suggests combining some sort of greenery with the lights, such as garlands or wreaths, to hide the cords. "Just stringing up lights in your house, unless you really want that frat house look, doesn't give it much charm," he says, "You end up Scotch taping them to the walls."

While LED lights save power for complex outdoor displays, they tend to look too harsh for indoors, Pranga says, "They make your room look like a black-light palace/' Use incandescent lights instead for a warm and cozy ambiance.

CHRISTMAS TREE

Similar to decorating an outdoor tree, wrap lights through branches rather than around the Christmas tree to create a nice depth.

Use the same tactic of dividing the tree into three triangle sections and working from the top down. The method not only makes the tree look fuU> it also helps with damage control, she says. It's really easy to control blow-outs that way. To prevent fuse blow-outs all together, don't use more than three or four strands, and run an extension cord along the trunk, she says. Use a remote-powered or step-on-step-off power strip at the bottom to simplify turning the tree lights on and off.

The experts recommend using at least 100 mini lights per vertical foot "It just adds a really nice ambiance," Pranga says. But don't be afraid to accent the tree with a unusual light size or color, using mini-lights deeper into the tree.

Traditional trees with lots of sentimental ornaments that range in color will pop with a mix of clear and colored lights, "You can definitely mix up the lights," Robertson says. "It sounds weird. But it looks nice."

This report includes material from Serena Dai with CTW Features.

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