10 Festively Frugal Ways to Save Time and Money on Christmas Lights

Alison Kasch
Written by Alison Kasch
Updated January 7, 2022
Porch with red door is decorated with Christmas lights
Photo: letfluis / Adobe Stock

Don’t let pricey, time-consuming light displays harsh your holly jolly—follow these tips to save time and money

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Clark Griswold’s house may be the ultimate in holiday lighting goals, but his methods were pretty ill-considered (and we shudder to think of his electrical bill). Christmas lights can still be merry and bright without breaking the bank, though, and you also have options if you’re short on time. We shed some light on ways to save money on Christmas lights below.

1. Don’t Fall for the Lowest Price Tag

While you’re at your favorite big-box retailer, it’s tempting to throw 10 boxes of the lowest-price Christmas lights in your cart. With such a small price tag, it seems like you get more for your money—however, many times, the opposite is true. While you can still get great lights without breaking the bank, more often than not, low price equals low quality (and possibly more bad bulbs), so the deal isn’t as sweet as it sounds.

Instead of opting for the most cost-savings, shop around and read customer reviews to find the best value for your hard-earned cash. It might cost more upfront, but it’ll cost you less down the line when you don’t have to replace the lights next year.

2. Have a Plan Before Buying Outdoor Christmas Lights

There’s nothing worse than reaching the end of your light rope and having 2 more feet of roof to cover. It’s also frustrating to realize you don’t have enough lights and have to make yet another trip to the store. Avoid getting your tinsel in a tangle and spending more time than you need to—measure and plan your display beforehand. When it comes time for removal, store Christmas lights properly to ensure you don’t have a tangled mess next year.

3. Shop the End-of-Season Clearance

Gotta love the end-of-season clearance sections for scoring some serious deals. The major downside is that you’ll have fewer options to choose from, but who knows? You could find a set you love at a clearance price that you really love.

4. Get Thrifty With It

This tip will likely require some shopping in advance, but your local thrift store probably gets tons of Christmas lights with plenty of life left. You might even find brand-new sets at next-to-nothing prices. Make sure to test them before purchasing—most thrift stores will have at least one dedicated outlet for this purpose.

5. Know How to Save Money on Christmas Lights Online

The internet is chock full of savings that you won’t find on a store shelf. As a bonus, you’ll have customer reviews at the ready, so you can easily find the best bang for your buck. 

6. Switch to LEDs for Energy Savings

Christmas lights hanging from a house roof
Photo: Ryzhkov Oleksandr / Adobe Stock

LED Christmas lights consume the least amount of energy, which can make a difference in your bills over time. They also last far longer than traditional incandescent bulbs, with some LED lights rated to last as much as 100,000 hours. Although these cost more upfront, they are a good long-term investment.

7. Use a Lighting Timer to Reduce Energy Costs

Man adjusting timer on electrical outlet
Photo: highwaystarz / Adobe Stock

There will probably be many nights where you fall asleep watching a festive movie and accidentally forget to switch your lights off. Unless they’re on a timer, they’ll get left on all night and drive up your electrical bill (especially if it happens multiple times). Save yourself the extra energy costs (and the trip to your cold garage in your slippers): put your lights on a timer, set it, and forget it.

8. Look at Time-Saving Lighting Options

You can still achieve that festive glow without painstakingly wrapping and hanging traditional string lights. Consider magnetic lighting options if you’re decorating a ferrous metal surface, such as a railing or metal strips on your roof’s edge. There are also LED lighting projectors that you can install in less time than it takes to make a cup of cocoa.

9. Stick to a Budget

Don’t let your lofty lighting goals lead you over your budget—have a number in mind and stick to it. This budget will prevent you from getting carried away when you’re walking down the holiday aisle.

10. Consider Hiring a Pro

Whether you’re short on time, hesitant to get on a ladder, or a combination of the two, hiring a pro to hang your holiday lights is the ultimate holiday hack. Hanging lights professionally costs an average of $220 to $650 and is the best option if you prioritize your time (and safety) above all else. Get in touch with a local Christmas light installer to learn more.

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