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Green Impressions Outdoor Living

By Joe Schill • September 28, 2012

Holiday Lighting Lessons from the National Lampoon's

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation Holiday Home"Sparky, are you out here for a reason, or are you just avoiding the family?" So says Ellen Griswold to her husband Clark in the classic National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Avoiding the family may be a legitimate reason to torture yourself with the task of stringing together 100,000 twinkle lights, but we like to learn from Clark Griswold what NOT to do when it comes to holiday decorating. We want you to have a happy holiday season, so we've put together a list for you. Here are 10 tips Clark could have used to improve his holiday lighting experience, though they wouldn't make for great cinematic hijinks!

Clark Griswold's Top 10 Holiday Lighting Tips

1. Don't overdo your holiday lighting display. There's a line between lovely and tacky, and we can keep you safely on the lovely side of the line. A professional holiday lighting company has the design experience to balance your light and decor into a tasteful holiday display.

2. Make sure you have power first; then test your lights. Poor, poor Clark. You'll know better.

3. Be careful not to overload the circuits. In National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, the rest of Chicago goes dark when Clark Griswold turns on his lights. Freezing out your neighbors on Christmas Eve isn't the best way to spread holiday cheer.

4. Don't use a staple gun to hang lights. Not only can this method land you in the emergency room, but staple guns can cause serious damage to your siding, bricks, and rain gutters. You don't want to have to deal with home repairs just as you finish cleaning up your holiday decorations.

5. When hanging lights on your roof, always use safety equipment. Although it makes for great action scenes in the movies, hanging off of rain gutters with one hand is actually quite dangerous, both to you and to the rain gutters.

6. Don't hop around on your ladder. If you've bought your ladder any time within the last twenty years, it's probably plastered with bright yellow, all-caps safety precautions. These safety warnings are necessary because people use their ladders just like Clark Griswold. Put your teenage delusions away and use your ladder like a responsible adult.

7. Don't take your frustration out on the display. Of course, front yard tantrums with electrical cords could make you a YouTube superstar if done well, but this may not be the kind of fame you're after. Instead, take a few deep breaths, eat a couple of those sugar cookies the neighbors brought over, and give us a call.

8. Always make sure you have someone helping you with your display. Just as it's not wise to scale a mountain by yourself, it's also not wise to get up on an icy roof without backup help. Installing holiday lighting is really a two-person job. It's safer that way, and you'll have someone to sing the harmony for "Jingle Bells."

9. Properly store your holiday lights and display so you don't end up with a giant ball of tangled holiday lights next year. Nothing squashes your holiday energy like feeling prepared to spend the day on the roof and then realizing you've got several hours of untangling to do first. Have pity on your next year's self. After all, you'll be older then.

10. Hire a professional to design, install, maintain, take down, and store your holiday lighting display. That way, you can spend more time with your family during the holidays--if you want to spend more time with the family, that is. But that's a topic for another Top 10 list.

Download Our Free Holiday Display Guide