With our expert's advice, your holiday display will embody the sights and sounds of the season.  

By Nashia Baker
November 05, 2020
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Christmas home with festive holiday lighting and snow
Credit: James Brey / Getty Images

When Christmas nears each year, those ready to celebrate begin to decorate their homes—especially in lights. "Lighting is a game-changer when it comes to the aesthetic of your home, and Christmas lights are no different," says Caroline Harmon, Lowe's trend and style expert. "Adding a touch of string lights to your home will brighten your space and make it feel cozier." And one way to add even more of a memorable touch to your décor is by synchronizing your Christmas lights to festive music for the holidays—whether you decide to have an indoor or outdoor display. Ahead, we asked an expert for his insight into making your music and light show come together in perfect harmony.

Set up a light system with software.

According to Gary McCoy—a Lowe's store manager in Charlotte, North Carolina—the first step when planning your holiday light show is to decide how you want to show the lights themselves: either in a small area inside your home or on your house's façade. "The light show will ultimately be controlled in channels, which is a unit of lights that can be controlled individually, so keep this in mind as you plan the scope of your show," he explains. "If this is your first show, 30 to 60 channels are a good size to start considering the many steps it takes to initiate setup."

Next, make sure to stock up on lights, McCoy notes—whether you go with classic lights or ones that vary in color and size is entirely up to you. After this, you will need a control system to bring everything together and run the effects and colors, like the Gemmy Orchestra of Lights ($19.98, lowes.com). "There are also fully built systems, light kits, and DIY systems that you can consider to control your light show," he adds. "Depending on what system you choose, you will need to identify a compatible software program (you can download this from an app store) as a part of the control system to help you control the music and coordinate your light show." After you've chosen your control system and software program, you now get to pick out the music and how you want the lights to respond to the tunes. McCoy does suggest giving yourself time (about a few weeks) to get this step down as the programming alone can be time-consuming.

Stay safe when syncing.

While creating a light show is a fun process, don't forget your safety when putting this all together. McCoy advises to check for broken lights or any damage from the weather each morning. "This will keep your display fully operational and [will help you] avoid any hazards that could result from broken lights or exposed electrical wires," the expert adds. "Additionally, when setting up your outdoor display, make sure your home has enough outside power to run your lights—a typical mini light strand will draw about 1/3 amp." Even though outdoor lights can generally be left on 24/7 and have an average lifespan of 1,000 hours—McCoy recommends consulting with a professional if you aren't sure if your home has enough outside power for a long-term light and music display. "As a starting point, understanding the amperage allowed for your breaker will provide insight into how much power the unit can handle," he shares. "But keep in mind that it's important to understand if the breaker is powering anything additional in your home, which is where an electrician can support."

Keep lighting festive.

As the holidays are filled with cheer, this time could be perfect to personalize and dress up your home to speak to the season. "While classic holiday string lights are a go-to option, icicle lights—like the GE StayBright White Mini LED Plug-In Christmas Icicle Lights ($14.98, lowes.com)—are a fun way to brighten up a wall or add curb appeal to your front porch," Harmon shares. She adds that rope lights—such as the GE StayBright Multicolor Integrated LED Plug-In Christmas Rope Lights ($29.98, lowes.com)—are also great for the outdoors since they can move and extend to shape of your display. To give even more of a festive feel to your lights, Harmon recommends connecting your music to a music conductor speaker—like the Sonos One SL speaker ($179, amazon.com).

Lastly, you should also keep courtesy at the forefront with your entire musical light display since you and your neighbors are likely spending more time at home than usual. "The best way to give passersby the opportunity to listen to your coordinated light show is by broadcasting over an FM frequency," McCoy says, "instead of playing the music out loud in your yard on repeat."

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