The Lights Before Christmas

Fred and Mary Galemore survey their Chesapeake Beach neighborhood. Lighted reindeer on the front lawn are a popular option this holiday season, as apparently are other critters. Just don't forget to be safe.
Fred and Mary Galemore survey their Chesapeake Beach neighborhood. Lighted reindeer on the front lawn are a popular option this holiday season, as apparently are other critters. Just don't forget to be safe. (By James A. Parcell For The Washington Post)

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By Alan J. Heavens
Philadelphia Inquirer
Saturday, December 20, 2008

Holiday lights not up yet? You still have a few days.

· Need to know: With about 300 styles of Christmas lights on the market, decide at the outset what you'll be illuminating, then figure out how that translates into yards of bulbs and wires. Buy just what you need, plus an extra string.

· Safety first: Check for the red or green Underwriters Laboratories (UL) marks on all light strings and extension cords. A green holographic UL mark means the light strings should be used only indoors. A red holographic mark indicates the lights can be used inside and out.

· Glow white or glow bright? Clear (white) lights are the perennial best-sellers for trimming trees and wreaths and for decorating the house, both inside and out. Colored lights' popularity rises and falls, but they have been on the upswing in recent years -- that includes traditional ceramic holiday lights (the large bulbs popular 25 to 30 years ago), as well as crystal and iridescent bulbs.

· Shapes aplenty: There are icicle light sets, for porches and fascia; rope lights, to wrap around trees; and net lights, for shrubs. Also, six-inch light spheres and light clusters that look like grapes; candle lights; beaded icicle lights; red carnation lights; holly-berry lights; and cell-phone lights. Some twinkle; others don't.

· What will it cost? Five dollars for a set of 300 clear indoor/outdoor miniature rope lights; about the same for 150 net or multicolored miniatures. Light spheres and light clusters run about $10 for 100.


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