Deck the house with lights a plenty

Brandon Scott is a Sherwood Park & Edmonton based mortgage consultant and the author of a weekly column entitled Real Estate Solutions in the Sherwood Park News. This article was originally published on November 30, 2012 The only thing that can possibly come close to the excitement of owning your own home is getting to decorate your home for the holidays. Now I’m not talking about the little knick-knacks you place inside to make the home feel festive. Don’t get me wrong I like the snow globes, the stockings and the ornaments, too. But this article is not dedicated to decking the halls inside. No. I’m talking about the traditional man’s domain of giving the house sparkle. Outside Christmas lights. You may remember the classic holiday movie where Chevy Chase’s character, Clark Griswold, in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation has the whole family outside in the cold awaiting the grand lighting of house. Clark announces proudly “250 strands of lights, 100 individual bulbs per strand for a grand total of 25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights.”  Now that was decking the house with lights a plenty. Several years ago, as a new homeowner, I bought my first home and anxiously awaited the holiday season to bring a little Griswold style light display to the neighbourhood. Who knew that a string of lights would cost so much? I purchased several boxes of outdoor lights, plus a few extension cords, and set aside a full Saturday afternoon to get the project completed. Sure there was some initial cost involved that could have gone towards a new pair of earrings for my wife but she would understand right? Besides this was going to be worth the finished result after all the lights were hung.  A few hours later however, while high up on a ladder, I realized was out of lights and just used my last box. Unfortunately, only the roof line had been completed. I had underestimated how many strings of lights were actually going to be needed. Another trip to the store was necessary and I realized this was going to be a small fortune. I hadn’t even purchased an inflatable airblown snowman or a lighted deer that would move its head. So here are some tips for those first time home buyers that are hoping to go all out with decorating the house. First of all know that these strings of lights can be expensive. There is nothing wrong with adding to your light collection little by little each year. So what if it takes you several years to achieve the look you want for your home. Set a budget for your outdoor holiday decorations and stick to it. Be aware there is also the extra energy cost for running the lights that could catch you off guard when the January electric bill arrives. Consider paying extra for the LED lights which use less energy than the standard incandescent mini-lights, provide a brighter light, and last longer before needing to be replaced. It’s also a good idea to invest in a timer that will automatically turn off the outdoor lights for you. Not many people are out at 2 a.m. in the morning looking at lights so save the grid and the expense. It is safer for your home this way too if the lights are off overnight. Here’s to kicking-off the 2012 holiday season in Strathcona County & Sherwood Park. Whether or not you choose to decorate your home outside, may your days be merry and bright. Download the current e-edition of the Sherwood Park News