How to Hang Christmas Lights Outside Without Nails to Make Your Home Merry and Bright

Get your ho-ho-ho on without the holes

Is hanging Christmas lights giving you visions of unsightly holes and lasting damage to your home’s exterior? If you’re wondering how to hang Christmas lights outside without nails, there are a variety of hammer-free ways to make your outdoor space merry and bright. Here’s how to nail your holiday light display—without nailing it. 

Why You Shouldn’t Nail Things to Your Roof

Poking permanent holes in your roof can be cringe-inducing, especially since a new roof costs thousands, if not tens of thousands. If you’re hesitant to do it, you’ve got the right idea—nailing Christmas lights, Santa’s sleigh, and other displays into your roof can actually damage it. 

Creating new holes can worsen existing damage to your roof shingles, compromise your roof’s structural integrity, and even shorten its lifespan. Your local roofing professionals are the only ones who should approach it with hammer and nails, whether that’s for replacing shingles, installing solar panels, or completing other projects. As for hanging the holiday lights, there are better simple and damage-free alternatives.

How to Hang Christmas Lights Without Nails

Nails may leave behind permanent damage, but luckily there are many ways to hang Christmas lights outside without nails. Here are some of the best and simplest ways to do it. 

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1. Hang Christmas Lights With Gutter Clips

S-shaped gutter hooks are one of the simplest ways to hang Christmas lights outside without nails, plus they offer fuss-free removal to boot. Simply attach the top of the “S” to your gutter and hang your lights from the opposite side. Be sure to use a steady, gentle hand and avoid pulling, as the hooks can slide around during the hanging process. You can find gutter hooks online or at your local hardware store.

2. Use Shingle Tab Light Clips to Hang Christmas Lights on the Roof

Roof shingle tabs are L-shaped hangers that are designed to slip between your roof shingles and hold Christmas lights. One end of these handy hangers has two prongs for grip, while the other has a hole for securing bulbs in place. Here’s how to use them:

  1. Slide the prong end of the tab underneath a shingle, leaving the hole side sticking up. 

  2. Pop a bulb into the hole.

  3. Repeat until you achieve your desired effect.

3. Hang Lights on Hard, Textured Surfaces With Hot Glue

Crafters rejoice: Your trusty hot glue gun can help you hang Christmas lights outside without nails. You can use this trick on brick, stucco, and concrete. However, it’s not safe for stucco cladding over foam (if you’re not sure about your stucco, give it a knock test; if it sounds hollow, then there’s likely foam underneath). 

Use caution—the glue gun tip is very hot and may leak and cause burns. Here’s what to do:

  1. Plug your hot glue gun in and give it about five to ten minutes to fully heat up.

  2. Apply a dab of glue to the plastic socket that houses the bulb.

  3. Immediately apply the glued end wherever you’d like to hang the lights, working fast before the glue dries.

  4. Repeat the process for every bulb on the strand.

  5. When you’re ready to take down the lights, use a flat scraper or putty knife to gently lift and release the hardened dab of glue.

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4. Hang Lights on Smooth Surfaces With Adhesive Hooks

Adhesive hooks are an excellent alternative for hanging Christmas lights outside without nails. However, these will only stick to your home’s siding and other smooth surfaces. Textured surfaces such as concrete or brick won’t allow the hooks to adhere properly.

Using magnetic Christmas lights follows a similar process and is another great option.

5. Use Lights to Make a Festive Walkway

If you’re not in the mood to fuss with hanging Christmas lights, create an inviting walkway with festive lights instead. Look for weatherproof LED strip lights or lighted stakes to bring plenty of cheer with minimal installation work required. 

6. Wrap Lights Around Trees and Outdoor Greenery

Your house isn’t the only canvas for your holiday light display. If you want the extra “wow” factor without having to hang Christmas lights on your home, look to your trees and plants instead. 

Start at the base of the tree, shrub, or bush and work your way up, allowing yourself plenty of slack so you’ll have enough length to evenly distribute the lights. For trees, you can wrap the lights up the trunk and back down for a festive look without messing with the branches. Bushes and shrubs can get a vertical zig-zag or “S” shape for a beautiful, evenly-spaced look.

7. Get a Christmas Light Projector

If hanging Christmas lights has you saying “Bah, humbug!”, a light projector allows you to forgo the effort altogether. These set up in minutes and come in a variety of styles, from moving shapes and shifting colors to simple laser dots for a more traditional look.

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Tips for Hanging Christmas Lights

Hanging your own Christmas lights is a rewarding process, but it can get tricky without the right strategy and prep work. Here are the best ways to avoid snags and potential hazards:

  • Ensure all lights and extension cords are rated for outdoor use.

  • Test your lights before you hang.

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when connecting multiple light strings.

  • Save money on Christmas lights by scoping out clearance aisles and thrift stores throughout the year.

  • Start with the plug end of your light strings and make sure it reaches the outlet.

  • Space string lights evenly for a clean, uniform look—aim for around six or seven inches between hooks, or three to four bulbs’ worth of spacing.

  • Consider purchasing lighted netting to easily drape around bushes and hedges.  

DIY vs. Hiring a Professional Holiday Light Installer

If you’re having trouble hanging your lights, or if you can’t find the time amongst all the holiday hustle and bustle, a pro can work with you to achieve your vision. Professional Christmas light installation costs between $220 and $650 on average and typically includes both installation and removal. It’s an extra investment, but it can save you tons of time and stress during the holiday season. Get in touch with a local holiday light installation company to learn more.


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About the Author: Tung Chi