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One of my favorite things to do when I'm home during the holiday season is to herd any and all able-bodied family members into a car to drive around and look at Christmas lights. (Most recently, this involved buckling my niece into her car seat and pointing out all the twinkliest houses while she promptly hit "snooze.") I subscribe to the branch of science that says restaurants will get 100% more customers by stringing twinkly lights on the entryway: There's something irresistible about them.
To help with holiday decorating this year, I rounded up a handful of different ways to hang twinkly lights—whether in your front yard, nook of a bedroom, the fire escape, or the back lawn. Merry, merry!
Whether it's putting lights on the ivy on a wall or your Christmas tree, sometimes weaving in and out is the best way to get a uniform, "natural" look.
The same would go for lighting up boxwoods in the lawn: Too perfectly lined with lights and they may look like cinnamon buns. Get a little haphazard and the whole shape will glow.
As a canopy
Splayed across a ceiling, or across a patio, is how twinkly lights do their best starry sky impression (and they will cast an even, golden light on the whole space).
Scrunched up in a glass
Break out a set of mason jars, hurricane vases, or, heck, a fishbowl: A ball of twinkly lights turns into a firefly lantern when captured behind glass.
You can also add them to lanterns and sconces, instead of candles:
Or under a bell jar:
Hanging down in long vertical strands, twinkly lights give off a neatly-organized waterfall effect—perfect for dividing up a space visually, or making a wall more pronounced.
If the regularity of a whole wall of drop-down lights is too Type-A for you, consider hanging them willy-nilly from the ceiling at various heights, which will look like light snow flurries:
The same way you might secure a long garland into drooping swags, lights can be hung to create a dramatic scalloped line—across a wall of windows, balcony, or the fence along the edges of the yard.
Maximalist version: Hang a whole bunch of them this way, to cover a wall.
Tightly around branches
This is the most tedious thing you could ever do with string lights, but the result is a tree that will look like it's lit up from inside every branch.
Better for actual small branches, or trunks of topiaries, rather than huge trees (unless you've got all weekend and a good ladder to do it). Would also be great on a fire escape, or a fence.
What other ways do you hang twinkly lights? Tell us in the comments.