Perfect Christmas lights display takes some planning

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It's that time of year! Time to put up the holiday lights, especially with the unseasonably warm weather forecast for the weekend.

Marilyn and Dick Shumar, who live on the city's north side were finishing up their lights Friday afternoon. The Shumar's guess they invested about 10 hours hanging lights from their house, trees and bushes.

Dick said it pays to have a plan, especially when you're dealing with dozens of strands of lights.

Pulling out an old, wrinkled enveloped he shared a long list with numbers and letters, each representing a strand.

"I've got them all numbered," he said. "I know where the large and end plugs are and the ones that don't have them."

The Shumars try to add something new every year or so. They do have lots to choose from.

Paul Schnieders, the manager of Sullivan Hardware on North Keystone pointed to the shelves filled with LED, incandescent, icicle, candle and mini lights. Especially fun? The multi-function lights.

"They'll fade, they'll go crazy, they'll do a different style every day, so your neighbors don't have to look at the same lights every day," he laughed.

As for the most popular outdoor lights? Schnieders said, they're definitely selling a lot of the LEDs. He noted they burn much cooler and are far more energy efficient. A strand will last up to 30,000 hours.

The downside?

"LEDs are definitely more costly, but they're worth if over the long run if you put them up and take them down year after year," Schnieders said.

You can also put 14 strands together versus just three with the mini or twinkle lights before you risk blowing a fuse. Schneiders said no matter what lights you use, be sure to use power strips, but don't overload them.

"The fuses will blow on plugs, then the breaker will get weaker and start popping all the time," he said.

If you have those twinkle lights, where if one bulb goes out the rest follow, you may want to try the Light Keeper Pro. It's a small gadget that helps salvage those lights.

As Schnieders demonstrated on a small tree where the top strand had gone out, "you just pull on any bulb, plug her in and click."

It makes the lights work, so you can find that one burned out bulb and replace it.

The Shumars say getting the outdoor light display right takes some work, but in the end it's always fun to shed some extra light on the season.