Want incredible Christmas lights like Highland Park Village? Hire a professional. (Photos: Sarah Beauregard)

Want incredible Christmas lights like Highland Park Village? Hire a professional. (Photos: Sarah Beauregard)

The cool weather has set in, Thanksgiving has passed and the holiday season is upon us. That means it’s time to pull out your festive sweaters, create your party menus, and make a plan for your holiday lights. Of course the exquisite Highland Park Village lights come to mind as we think about our city’s most stunning holiday display. That’s why we chatted with Christmas Light Company, who annually installs the Village’s lights, and many of our city’s grandest displays — the Galleria, the AT&T Performing Arts Center, and the Hilton Anatole — to learn the ins-and-outs of Christmas light installations.

“Right now LED Lights are popular,” General Manager of Christmas Light Company, Antonio Garcia says. “They use 90 percent less power.”

He explains that it’s important you hire a professional company that knows the difference between LED and incandescent lights, because to the eye, the lights look the same.

As far as hiring contractors is concerned, Garcia suggests you do your research before letting someone install your lights.

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Fav xmas lights 12 2013The 1% like it bright! This article in the Wall Street Journal a couple weeks ago tickled me: it was like a eureka — people spent thousands of dollars on holiday lights, like $15,000 and upwards, to decorate for the holidays. And further eureka:

More Americans are forgoing the difficult and sometimes risky endeavor of installing their own holiday lights, asking professionals to take their place on the ladder. National chain Christmas Decor, which has 40,000 clients across the U.S., says it has seen sales increase 11% every year for the past four years.

This shift means that holiday displays can get even more extravagant and elaborate. Many installers say they have worked on décor that cost as much as $80,000. Prices are typically based on the number of lights and the size of job.

Elaborate lights 11024px-Dyker_Heights_lites_2010_jehAnd as we know after a drive down Armstrong Parkway, or on Deloach in Preston Hollow where the late Harold Simmons and his wife, Annette, charmed drivers with an elaborate, animated holiday display: holiday lights are now more complicated, with way more gimmicks, colors and choices. LED lights use less electricity, but they look different, whiter, than standard “candle-light” lights. Thus

Vance Brand, a Christmas-light specialist in Salt Lake City who works with 1,500 clients in Utah and Colorado, offers his customers 10 shades of white LED Christmas lights. With schematics planned out using computer models, the bulbs dance and twinkle, often to coordinated music. Mr. Brand, who says his business has grown 22% a year since 2008, installs and takes down the lights after the season is over. He says he has even rappelled over a cliff to hang strands on one precariously situated holiday enthusiast’s home.

You know that if you waited to put up your holiday lights the day after Thanksgiving, you were too late in North Texas. Everyone knows that in August, when the mercury hits 112 degrees, that is your cue to start thinking about some hot Christmas lights. This is when you schedule your installation, otherwise it’s too late. Sure, you can do them yourself you DIYer you, but if you haven’t cleaned out the lighting department at Loew’s prior to Thanksgiving, it’s too late.

Oh and no matter how many strands and boxes you buy, thinking, this should cover that tree, you will not have enough lights and when you go back for more, they will be out.

That is the cardinal rule of holiday lighting.

Years ago, I gave the ladder to the professionals. I simplified my lights to cover one large Live Oak tree, and that is it. I get away cheap: $1500. (My husband swears he will use this against me if we ever divorce.) My friends in Highland Park say the more elaborate lights require a cash outlay (or credit card) of $30,000 and up — some of those lawns you ohh and ahh over run upwards of $75,000.

4b189c10415a5Plus they must be installed correctly. Nothing irritates professional landscape lighting landscapers more than the “pop-up” shops that emerge come October & November, who send out un-trained teams of (sometimes) guest workers who overload home circuits, which could potentially start fires.

“The best thing to do is have a professional company install exterior plugs dedicated to the Christmas lights,” said Johnny Moore of Unique Electric.

There is a company in Birmingham that sells clients the lights to decorate exterior structures with lights.  They obtain the products, fit them, install the lights, garlands, bows and wreaths and maintain them for the homeowner during the Christmas season. After the holidays, they take everything down, pack and store them for homeowners in a warehouse.

That is what I call heaven.

I know companies, even individuals, like Lights of Christmas, Inc. exist in Dallas. Now I am ready for the next step: someone to maintain my interior decorations. That 8 foot tall pre-lit tree, bannister and fireplace garland, all of it is cumbersome! If a company wants to bring my stuff over all pre-decorated from a nice big storage unit well, then, I guess that will save me building a walk-in closet for the Christmas tree!

Seriously: how much did you spend on holiday lights this year? And is $60,000 too much??? Is $1500?

 

 

Oslo 2It’s snowy and dark in Oslo, Norway, during the month of December. A CandysDirt.com reader sent in his holiday photos from the country that gets about 5 hours of daylight during winter.

Oslo 1

Have snapshots of Christmas lights? Share them with us!

Snowy Santa Oslo

We love getting vacation and second-home photos from readers, especially the unconventional. A loyal reader sent us his photos of Christmas lights from Oslo, Norway, which gets only 5 hours of sunlight on the clearest days in December.

Just because you put your home on the market doesn’t mean you should stop going all out for the holidays, am I right? So I love that the owners of this week’s Monday Morning Millionaire, 4434 Rawlins, traced the front of their flowerbeds outside their Perry Heights Georgian with twinkly lights and boughs tied in wreaths.

This house is beautiful all on its own, but with this great Christmas light treatment, it’s just gorgeous!

Did you take some photos of amazing Christmas lights this year? Send them in and we’ll post them here on CandysDirt.com!

I think I’m coming down with seasonal affective disorder or something that is making my eyes itch at the very sight of Christmas lights. Needless to say, I needed something to refocus, something like a palate cleanser. Surfing for House Porn is the perfect answer!

And what do you know, I stumbled upon 4414 Lively Lane, an absolutely stunning Hill Country Contemporary (that’s a fancy term for a brand-new, vintage-inspired, Craftsman-like home with a stone facade) in Rockbrook Estates for just $2.15 million. If you could have heard me when I found this home, your eardrums would have shattered I squealed so loud. I just love everything about this house!

From the gorgeous hardwood floors to the incredible light fixtures (check out that art glass ceiling fixture in the foyer!) this home is amazing. The listing says the home, built in 2008, is inspired by the designs of legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. I can see that, especially with all of the beautiful wood trim around the windows and the stone fireplace in the living area.

The floorplan is open, which makes all 6,277 square feet of this home flow effortlessly. There are five bedrooms, five and a half baths, three living areas, and a kitchen that was built for entertaining crowds.

There are two master suites  — one on the first floor an another upstairs — and they are both just impeccable. I love how the owners have decorated with light, neutral colors that play off of the huge wood-trimmed windows.

The master bath has a very organic feel with different shades of stone and tile. I love the separate vanities that are on opposite walls — a key selling feature for anyone who isn’t a morning person (*raises hand*).

With all of that space inside, you’d think that there wouldn’t be any lot left for a decent-sized pool or a yard. Not so! This home has a wonderful loggia and cascading pool surrounded by a very private lawn. Gorgeous!