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Weatherproof Your Outdoor Decorations

Make sure your lights and more make it through the holidays

Keep Shining

Photo by D. Hurst/Alamy

Buying items rated for exterior use is just the first step. Here's how to hang them to withstand all that Mother Nature dishes out.

Wind

Photo by Gaia

Protect light strands from strong gusts by securing them with plastic zip ties (about $5 for 100) or reusable light clips (about $10 for 100) spaced every 12 inches. For a ground display, pick wire-frame sculptures over decor made of painted wood so that wind passes through; drive their stakes the entire length—ideally, 6 to 8 inches—into the ground.

Snow and Rain

Photo by Tadashi Osumi/Getty Images

Moisture and electricity don't mix. A ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) prevents shorts—and shocks—and most city regulations require their use with outdoor lighting; portable units cost under $30. Cover the male and female ends of light strands with electrical tape or encase them in plastic freezer bags to help keep water out.

Ice

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If rain- or snow-covered decorations freeze over, it could be lights out for your display. To allow moisture to evaporate before it turns to ice, position the connections between light strands in a way that lets air circulate around them. For lights hung on trees, use electrical tape to secure connectors to the trunk a few feet above the ground to keep them out of runoff that might pond there.