December is here, the warm days seem to have flown south for the winter, and evenings can easily be spent driving around the neighborhoods looking at the lit-up houses — or maybe all you need to do to see some gorgeous decor is walk out in the front yard!

Christmas Vacation house

“Russ, when have I ever overdone anything?”

Tapping into your inner Clark Griswold can be fun, but you don’t want a festive home display to come at the expense of your home’s structural components. So when Santa and his reindeer take a trip to your roof later this month, make sure you keep yourself on the good list when it comes to safely and attractively decorating their landing pad by following these five simple tips:

  • Be safe with your ladder. Make sure it’s tall enough that you’re not standing on top of it, which is dangerous — or rent one or borrow one from a friend or neighbor, if needed. Have a family member help spot you on the ladder, or work with a neighbor and knock out both houses together at once!
  • Use clips, not nails or staples, to hang decor. Whether you’re putting up decorations on your roof itself, or just lighting along the roofline or gutters, make sure you use an appropriate clip. Spending a few extra dollars can save you thousands in the long run when you’re not having to replace damaged shingles or gutters. Depending on your home’s setup, you may even be able to use clothespins to hang lights, or you can buy packs of 100 clips for under $10 (and they should last for a couple years, but replace them as needed).
  • Use zip ties to hang decorations. This works especially well for porch railings or fence posts, whether horizontal or vertical. Simply snip them off after the holidays for easy cleanup! They’re obviously not going to work year after year like clips might on your roofline, but these are a good way to avoid nail damage on railings or fences.
  • Remember to decorate for day AND night. In December, there are just as many daylight hours as nighttime ones, so be sure to include elements that add to your festive look during the day as well as lit up at night. Greenery, decorative luminaries, and silhouette lawn decor can do double duty when you add lights!
  • Think outside the box for decorations. You don’t have to get up on a ladder to still have a pretty home display! A mailbox makes a great spot to decorate. Find a cute cover, or DIY a swag with greenery and ribbons. You can also repurpose floral hooks or in-ground shepherd’s hooks for Christmas — find (or make) big, lightweight ornaments or pretty bows to hang from your shepherd’s hook or porch hangers. Line your sidewalk with luminaries or big bulbs.