Many people have fond memories of getting bundled up on a winter evening with family and friends, making a to-go cup of hot cocoa, and walking (or driving) through their neighborhoods to view the array of lights and décor that festive neighbors create with their homes. If you’re a new homeowner or are feeling particularly festive this year, you might be considering decorating your own home for others to enjoy during the dark evenings that winter brings. But for some, this is nothing short of a daunting task – where do you start?

After some research — Pinterest is your friend, here — we’ve found that there are three main categories that home decorators fall into, and before you begin on your home, it’s important to know which look you’re going for:

Minimal: Think gingerbread house, with a string of lights outlining each feature of the home.

Festive: The lighting may still be relatively simple, but wreaths on doors, candles in windows, and probably some lawn décor round out the display.

Extravagant: The home is entirely covered in lights, which may or may not be set to blink to a local radio station, and plastic Santa’s, reindeer, Nativities, and a blow-up Frosty the Snowman bedeck every horizontal surface.

With these three general categories in mind, lighting is usually the first step, and that can be a challenge. So we’ve decided to turn to an expert, Brett Jasch, owner of Shine Window Care & Holiday Lighting of Bloomfield Hills, for some tips on how to successfully decorate the exterior of your home.

Q: What common mistakes do people make when decorating the outside of their homes? 

A: Quite a few, actually. These include not using outdoor-rated products, not having enough product, not planning the logistics of installing the lights, and not having the proper tools on hand. Improper wiring — not making sure that outlets are in good working order or installing too many lights for the power source — can result in serious consequences.

Q: What tips do you have for the first-time exterior decorator? 

A: Draw a sketch of your home and map the location of outlets, lights, and decorations. Make sure to have all the tools needed for installing the lights. Then, once the season is over, it’s important to have an organized plan for taking down the lights and storing them.

Q: When do you start decorating homes for the holidays? 

A: Shine starts decorating homes during mid-October. Although that may seem early, customers don’t need to turn on the lights until they are ready. At that point, customers simply plug in the digital timer and they are set for the season.

Q: I’m assuming you’ve decorated homes from minimal to elaborate; do you come up with the designs or do the homeowners tell you what they want and you execute accordingly? 

A: Most customers are pretty sure what they want when it comes to holiday lighting. Some would like suggestions from me, and I’m happy to help; others want me to design the package, and they pick and choose what level they would like.
Holiday lighting is personal, and with proper planning, it can be a fun and festive experience.