CCC #3: Rays of Lights

Season’s greetings, friends, and welcome to the third installment of Carole’s Creative Commotion! You may think it’s a little early for ‘season’s greetings’ but – au contraire, mon frere – you’d be wrong. As we dyed-in-the-wool paper crafters know, the holiday season is upon us NOW. While the rest of the world is baking in the August sun, we’re scooping up the latest Halloween papers and creating ghostly goodness. When people are putting away their flip-flops and adorning their porches with pumpkins? We’re creating garlands and gift tags. By the time civilians are trimming their trees, we’ll be up to our… um… voice boxes in Valentines.

What can we say? We’re ahead of the curve. We set the holiday trends that make the world a more fun and festive place to live. It’s tough, creative work, but somebody has to do it.

Thus, even though it’s ‘only’ October 18th, you’ll indulge me if I skip the chatter about ghouls and goblins and move on to the very important and emotionally-charged subject of… CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!

“Christmas lights”: that simple phrase is enough to strike fear in the hearts of those who know me well, and a reason the males in my immediate family (which accounts for everyone but me & the dogs) dread the Friday-Sunday of every Thanksgiving weekend. Why? Because that’s how long it takes me to get the Christmas tree up and lit. In most areas of life, I’d consider myself ‘Type B’. But Christmas tree lighting is different; they are my madeleines, my Rosebud, my Moby-Dick. Clark Griswold, c’est moi.

Here are my rules for a properly lit artificial Christmas tree:

  1. Buy the largest pre-lit tree with the most bulbs per branch that your room can accommodate. If needed, make a platform for the tree with concrete cinder blocks. (This is what department stores do to show off trees to their best advantage.) If the tree you want is a bit too big for your room? Improvise. Squish the top branches and make it fit. For example (and yes, this is my tree…):
  2. Using twist or zip ties, secure a couple of electric outlet strips to the trunk/pole of the tree. You never want more than three strands of lights plugged into each other or you run the risk of overloading. Not only can this create a fire hazard, it can also cause a short in your lights, which after all the work you’re going to do, is the very last thing you want.
  3. Fluff out the branches of the tree. This should take you a long time. If it doesn’t, you’re doing it wrong. You’ve got to make the tree look as realistic as possible (as in, not every branch can tip up at the ends) without having any gaps where you can see gaps through the tree to the back side.
  4. Starting at the bottom, light the tree. Every single branch must be covered from base-to-tip-to-base, before moving to the next branch. Use light clips (green plastic thingies that look kind of like bobby pins) to avoid the the distraction of gaping cords. Work with the strand lit to ensure even coverage.
  5. When you think you’re done, add at least two more strands. More is more and a tree can never be too well lit. Your tree should be so well lit, you don’t even need ornaments. As of last year, my tree had around 15,000 multi-colored lights on it. I’m still not sure that was enough. (And yes, there are two stars at the top of my tree; one just didn’t seem like enough…)
  6. Stand back and marvel over your handiwork. Have a glass of wine (if you haven’t been driven by this process to drinking already) or cider. Then get out the rest of tree decorations and put those up.

I’m consistently amazed at how much Karen and I seem to have in common. She couldn’t have known about my Christmas light OCD when she released the very first Your Next Die. And yet what was it? A scalloped strand of Christmas light bulbs!Karen could not have spoke to me more with this stamp and die set if she tried. Here’s a close up of some bulbs, which I made more life-like with a coat of Glossy Accents. You can also see the pleated ribbon treatment I created by pinning the ribbon in place then running it through the sewing machine a couple of times.As for my aforementioned affliction, I think the only thing that might cure it is going back to a natural tree. Real tree branches can only handle so much weight, and certainly aren’t strong enough to handle the work out I put my artificial trees through. Believe it or not, I used to be a ‘real tree snob’ and pooh-poohed the fakers with their artificial trees. Then, about a dozen years ago or so, the price of real trees in my area seemed to sky rocket, and, well, I succumbed.

Enough about me. Tell me about YOU! For those of you who put up trees, tell me a bit about your lighting strategies. Are you a multi-colored or a clear light person? {I believe that’s almost as telling as whether you’re a dog- or cat-person, by the way.} Any hints or tips you’d like to share? As you can tell, this is a topic that takes up a lot of space in my wee brain, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Another thing I’m curious about: what are you stamping for, these days? Are you, too, already stamping Christmas (as I assumed earlier, for argument’s sake), or are you living in the here and now, and still stamping Halloween? Despite the fact that it’s going to make me seem like an unreliable narrator, I’m going to let you in on a secret: I plan to do a little more Halloween stamping over the next couple of weeks. After all, I have too many cute Halloween stamps I need to get inky (like Got Candy, Creepy Crawly, and the Cute Witch and Cute Kitty digi stamps), not to mention all the paper that’s getting old as I type this!

And for those of you who don’t put up trees or celebrate Halloween or Christmas, leave me a note anyway, even if it’s just to tell me I need an intervention. πŸ˜‰ Karen will be giving away a Light Up the Holidays stamp and die set to one lucky person who comments before 11:59 p.m. EST, Tuesday, October 25th. My philosophy about comments is the same as my philosophy about Christmas lights: THE MORE, THE MERRIER! πŸ™‚
See you next month on the 18th!

xo – Carole

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40 Comments

  1. 1

    Would love to win and I love this stamp set! You don’t need an intervention – just more lights. My girlfriend Chris believes you can never have enough either!!

  2. 2
    Danielle says:

    Thanks for the chance!!! I love christmas trees so much I have 2 – one is white lights, and the other is multicolour! One is the kids tree with homemade ornaments and hallmark ornaments, and the other is my pretty tree that is all the colours of a peacock! including peacock feathers!

  3. 3

    I am a FOOL for Xmas lights!! Don’t stop at the tree!! I have lights in the swags over my door, in vases of ornaments, and in big containers of sticks on the floor. They give the best light ever, and who doesn’t want the house all aglow for the holidays??

  4. 4

    What a darling card! Love the burlap look. There is nothing more beautiful than a Christmas tree with sparkling lights! We set up TWO trees every year. The one upstairs is a pre-lit 14 foot tall slim tree with all white lights, decorated with white bulbs and white ribbon. The downstairs tree has EVERY color BLINKING light and hosts all of our family heirloom bulbs and handmade ornaments. This scallop bulb set is just TOO CUTE and I do so appreciate the chance to win. Thanks for your generosity!

  5. 5

    Your post was a fun read Carole πŸ™‚
    I’m currently got the Halloween stamping bug & with that I’ve mixed in some random stamping for birthday cards.
    Thanks for the chance!

  6. 6
    Shari Green says:

    I love your card, so festive!. I started making some Christmas cards about a month ago but it never ends, each year more people get added to the list!
    You do not need help or an intervention, cause if you do then so do I! I have already started asking my husband when I can start decorating (as I need him to haul out all the boxes from the storage room).
    Once the first snowflake falls then out comes all my winter decorations, then Dec. 1 out comes Christmas (unless I can get the hubby to help sooner) with lights on the tree, over the doors, around the stair railings and around the village on the fireplace, I just LOVE Christmas and all the shiney Lights!
    Shari

  7. 7
    kat says:

    Darling! Who wouldn’t love to win these stamps & matching die? It’s one of the few unique new sets for the holidays! Thanks for this chance…..

  8. 8
    Heather says:

    I, too, am a Christmas light junkie. No one but me is “allowed” to put the lights on the tree and they have to be perfect. Unfortunately, the last couple of years I have been unable to do it due to health reasons so we succumbed and bought a pre lit tree. I am feeling much better this year and think I may need to add more lights to afore mentioned tree. As for crafting projects, except what I needed for my design team projects I do not “do” Halloween so am colouring up Christmas images madly and making Christmas cards ~ started sometime in July when the store I work at got the “Christmas in July” stock. Can NEVER get enough Christmas!!!!!!!

  9. 9

    Carole you’re hilarious!! πŸ™‚ Love your smooched down top on your tree!! BTW…I’m a clear light snob!! πŸ™‚

  10. 10
    Nancy Thomas says:

    I’m glad to know that I am not the only one who adds extra lights to her pre-lit tree! White lights for me though although if I put up my second big tree they include red and white.

  11. 11
    Betsy says:

    Love your card ~ that burlap really adds the right touch!!!
    I’m a clear light kinda gal. Every year, my husband wants to put some colored lights on the tree, but I always win that battle. LOL! We use a lot of lights and a LOT of ornaments ~ I get new ornaments every year, but I can never seem to give up the ones I already have, so the tree just gets a little more covered every year ~ after 31 Christmases, it’s a wonder you can see the tree for all the ornaments!!
    We always do the squint test to check our tree lights (this comes from my husband’s side of the family, and it really does work!). Once you have the lights on, stand back away from the tree and squint while you’re looking at it ~ you’ll be able to see exactly where the bare spots are that need more lights!
    I just finished Halloween cards on Saturday and started working on Christmas cards on Sunday. I may have to throw in a few Thanksgiving cards over the next month, but my goal is to have my Christmas cards all done and ready to mail by the beginning of December. Wish me luck!

  12. 12
    Moosisk says:

    I don’t think you need intervention at ALL! Christmas such a wonderful time of year. I put my decorations up the week before Thanksgiving. I also start listening to Christmas music on the radio in November. We have a station in our area that starts playing holiday music on November 1! YAY! I love making my Christmas cards, too. I mail about 150 every year. I could definitely use this great stamp/die set! Thanks for the chance to win. πŸ˜€
    Janet
    moosisk@hotmail.com

  13. 13
    Katherine says:

    My Mom does all the decorations in our christmas tree. She is more of clear lights and 1 color motif ornaments. Last year our motif was gold.

  14. 14

    I LOVE Christmas lights! I wish I could put them up now! πŸ™‚

  15. 15
    g says:

    what a fun post! i love your tree! we love lots of multi colored lights too & whimsical ornaments! i LOVE this sweet stamp set & die- thanks for the chance to win it! i’m still stamping Halloween but am also getting out the Christmas craft goodies & have started ‘collecting’ new papers!

  16. 16
    lynnhl28 says:

    I also love excessive amounts of Christmas lights in my house during the holiday season ( or slightly before) . Can never have too many lights. As for crafting, I go from fall right into Christmas and winter so this set of lights stamp and die cut would be a great addition to my collection. Happy crafting everyone!

  17. 17
    rakosturik says:

    Love your holiday spirit and enthuisiam.

  18. 18
    Amy Rohl says:

    I’ve been waiting to comment so I could be the 18th caller, I mean commenter, so here I yam! Hey, seriously though, supah dupah cool card. You know I’m seriously diggin’ those lights even though I am a white lights kinda girl, but the burlap mellows ’em out all nice! Love ya!

  19. 19

    Oh my gosh this is wonderful the burlap is so cool!
    Now as for your Christmas Tree Monologue…to funny!

  20. 20
    Amy Rohl says:

    Ok, so I hate yo be the one to break it to you, but you need oh probably 2 more strands of lights on that card?!! Juuuust kiddin’!

  21. 21

    Ooh I’d love to win this stamp set. How fabulous your tree looks! Its never too early for Christmas!

    Emma – The Sparkly Fairy

  22. 22

    Loved getting and early jump on those Christmas stamps & dies @ the turtle anniversary & scrapfest Oshawa! Now if I could just find the time to make more! Keep them coming!

  23. 23

    I love ALL kinds of lights – seriously, you could plunk me in front of one of the displays at the mall and I could be entertained for hours… I make holiday cards all year long – (1) it helps keep the spirit of Christmas with you all through the year and (2) it makes it a little easier by the time the holiday arrives with all of its lovable chaos. Thanks for the chance to win! I really like this stamp & die set!

  24. 24
    JLJ Designs says:

    Let’s see. I’m a clear light person. Our tree is prelit and I don’t add any lights. We do the whole tree in white and silver decorations.

    I’m still madly trying to finish my Halloween poem project while simultaneously coloring Christmas/winter projects. It’s only just started to get cool where I am so it’s difficult to think about either.

    Jen

  25. 25
    Scrapalajen says:

    First of all, let me congratulate Karen on these awesome dies. I don’t have any yet but these are awesome. With so many dies on the market, it’s getting difficult to choose which ones to get but the cool thing about these is that they can be used for every occasion, just not only for Xmas! To have the stamps and the dies is the perfect mix to light up my crafty life!Thank you for this awesome giveaway!

  26. 26
    Oma says:

    I love Christmas trees and as for the lights – the more the merrier and I love multicoloured lights on my fake tree. My Dad had to cut the top off of a real tree once so it would fit.

    Cute card Carole! Love the lights and ribbon!

  27. 27
    Sylvia says:

    oh my gosh.. this is GORGEOUS! The stamps and the matching dies are FANTASTIC and I **loooove** your card, Carol. It’s AMAZING!!!
    Thanks for the chance to win πŸ™‚
    Sylvia xx

  28. 28
    ladybugg61 says:

    Hahaha … an ‘intervention’!!! I don’t think you’re at that point as I LOVE Christmas trees too! I tend to alternate between coloured & white lights – I never want to be predictable! However, if I were to win that lovely string of lights/matching die set, I’d definitely use COLOURS to show off that baby! Thanks for the chance to win one of my current fav releases right now.

  29. 29
    Janet Z says:

    Our tree has the mini clear lights but I grew up with the large colourerd lights and have fond memories of those.

  30. 30
    Laura says:

    We live in an apt. and the superintendent gets really crusty when he finds pine needles leading from your doorway to the garbage out back…lol….so know I own a little faux 3 footer that’s lite up with fiber optics that change color. I still have a little string of lights, little candles shapes, that my Dad used when he was a boy. But I wouldn’t dare plug them in…waaaay to old.
    Laura

  31. 31
    Trisha says:

    We do put up a small tree with multi colored lights. Very often, we are away at Christmas time visiting family, but I still need to have decorations up. I just finished my Halloween things and, now, I am organizing and planning for my Christmas cards. Need to stock up on some more cardstock. Have a great day. patnbobcuddy at gmail dot com

  32. 32
    Julie says:

    Wow! That is some tree. Love the lights die. Super fun! I am a lot of light kinda gal! I am soon to be starting my christmas cards, but I say that every year at this time. Maybe one day I will be on top of it!

  33. 33
    AngΓ©lique says:

    Fab post! Thanks for giving us a chance winning the awesome stamps and die set πŸ™‚
    I’m a light girl. Have both: 1 color and multi-color. The 1 color light is in my house and the other one in my class (the kids just looooove all the different kind of colors :))
    Now the days are getting shorter, I can’t wait to decorate my tree, so there’s some light in the darkness πŸ˜‰

    *hugs*
    Angélique

  34. 34
    kimberly says:

    thanks for the opportunity to win…. lights – well I my lights are the multicolored ones that blink to the music. the music is so annoying so we turn that off as soon as it is plugged in I have approx. 5 strands to put on the tree and we have a fake one But I still love the holiday and all the decorations remind me of when they were made or given.
    Stamping – I am currently still making Halloween but I am slowly switching to Christmas πŸ™‚
    again tfs

  35. 35
    Rookie says:

    Decorating the Xmas tree was one of my favourite activities to do with my Mom growing up. She has the same ‘more is more’ take on decorating the tree and also had a natural ability to make the tree not look like a trainwreck πŸ™‚

    One of my favourite trees of all time was the teddy one she made up one year with clear lights peeking out all over the place to show off said teddies. (She collects teddybears, and the collection is vast – teehee).

    So because of this memory I am a convert of clear lights on the tree. The colour lights go in the window off course πŸ™‚

  36. 36
    Nicole says:

    I love lots of lights on the tree and decorations too! I love trimming the tree. Each ornament holds special memories too. I love coloured lights on the tree, so cheery!

  37. 37
    Laurel says:

    I LOVE decorating my Christmas tree! I have tons of mix matched ornaments that I adore!1!!! I remember decorating the tree with my mom every year when I was younger. Now I decorate the tree with my son! I love traditions and I love Christmas! Thanks for the chance to win

  38. 38

    I just LOVE that card! That stamp and die are absolutely adorable, and I’ll likely have to add them to my collection soon!

    I am borderline OCD with my Christmas tree….everything has to match! And it cannot be cluttered!

  39. 39
    Julie E says:

    I am a “here and now” type of crafter which can leave me in trouble come Christmas Eve and I still need a few gifties! As I need my own intervention I will not interfere with your light OCD!!! ;>)

  40. 40
    Mary J says:

    I am definitely a clear bulb person but I love my lighting that does a series of different ‘flashes’! It’s so mesmerising!

    I seem to be stamping a lot of Halloween cards right now but I need to get on with my Xmas ones – lots more of these to make!

    Love the light die by the way!

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