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Last Minute Christmas Decorations

Last Minute Christmas Decorations

There’s less than two weeks until Christmas, but if you don’t already have your Christmas lights up, never fear. It’s not too late to string up some last minute decorations that will still get your home noticed. Here are four last minute Christmas decorating ideas that don’t require hours on a ladder.

“Ditto” Christmas Lights

This trend goes back to at least 2009, but it’s grown in popularity since then. It’s been featured on the Ellen DeGeneres show and has been called “the anti-keeping-up-with-the-Jones-approach.” While you can buy a pre-designed sign with “DITTO” and an arrow, there are two DIY approaches you could take as well.

Rope light is very good at spelling out cursive letters. You will need rope light, zip ties (clear are preferred), and a way to keep your sign in place. Since rope light can become brittle in the cold, it’s ideal to measure out a similar space inside, such as the living room floor. Spell out “Ditto” using the rope light. To cross the t’s, you can either loop back around from the “o” or make each “t” like a four leaf clover. This second option allows you to create the arrow from the same run rather than using a second section of rope light.

Use the zip ties to keep everything in place, especially the tight curve of the “i” and ends of the “t” as needed. Secure anywhere else that the rope light overlaps in order to keep the shape of the letters intact while you move it outside. If your house has a clapboard exterior, you can use shingle tab or all-in-one clips to secure the rope light. If your exterior is made of some other material, you’ll want to put the sign on the roof instead. Don’t try to climb the ladder with the sign, have someone hand the sign to you once you’re up the ladder . You can use the clips for a shingled roof or magnetic clips for a metal roof. 

Hard turns aren’t a problem unless you’re bending the rope light back and forth. Repeated bending in different directions risks damaging the lights and wiring inside the tube. When you’re ready to pack everything up for next year, consider keeping the zip ties in place rather than wrapping the rope light back up. Your tight curves, letter height and spacing will all be preserved with little to no slippage depending on how you store your sign.

LED mini string lights are also popular and easier to hang because of their lighter weight and are easier to bend around tight curves. However, to get thick letters, you’ll need to connect several strands together and have several strands placed closely together. Similar to rope light, it’s recommended you spell out “Ditto” and zip tie everything together prior to placing the sign. It’s easier to get consistent lettering on the living room floor rather than outside with gravity working against you. Installation is similar as well, but in addition to all-in-one clips and magnetic clips, you could use brick clips. These clips grip the brick on the side of your house securely enough for string lights, but are not recommended for rope light.

Flood Lights and Laser Projectors

For a solid wash of color changing light, RGB flood lights are the way to go. They use either an infrared or radio frequency controller to customize your display. In addition to solid colors, many flood lights can be set to different style effects including flash, strobe, and slow fade. You can also use laser light projectors for more concentrated pinpricks of color and patterns. As a bonus, either of these can be left out all year to add some light to your backyard barbecues once warmer weather returns.

Grinch Stealing Lights

This is a favorite of mine. When you have evidence that the Grinch stole (or is in the process of stealing) your lights, who is to say you didn’t have the best display in the neighborhood until his well-timed vendetta? All you need is one strand of string lights, a spotlight, and a Grinch. Most commonly, this is a painted wood cutout, but you can get creative with it. Pose your Grinch sneaking away from the house and aim the spotlight at him so he can be seen at night. Place the string lights in his hands and run the rest of the strand along the gutter. It looks most convincing if the line is relatively straight from his hands to the roof, not sagging too much in transition, and if the string only goes partially or less than halfway around the roof. This makes it look as though he actually pulled them off. Any remaining string can be wrapped around the Grinch’s hands or left to train behind him as he makes an escape. Using magnetic clips makes putting lights up a breeze and taking them down even easier. Instead of taking each one down individually, one solid tug onto the grass or padding over the driveway is all it takes when it’s time for the decorations to go back into storage.

Anyone in your neighborhood already using these tricks? Have you tried them yourself? Send us a picture on Facebook or Twitter, then follow us for DIY ideas to repurpose your string lights after the holidays.


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