Lake Minnetonka Outdoor Holiday Decorating Guide

Tips, tricks and trends to help decorate your exterior to the nines this holiday season.
Lining the roof in white lights continues to be a popular trend, with the lighted trees adding a pop of color.

Once a year, homes around the lake area transform into awe-inspiring displays of holiday pride. Intrigued how these homes turn into majestic pieces of art, we turned to local experts to give you tips on creating your own holiday display.   Planning and Preparation Before you haul out your ladder and start hanging lights, come up with a plan for what you want to create, including the colors and types of decorations you want to use. “People should construct displays they are attracted to, even if it’s out of the bounds of what is popular,” says Becca Bastyr, a designer for Mom’s Landscaping. “Attracted to silver and purple? Go crazy with it,” she says. “Homeowners should tap into their own likes and express their personality with a festive display they enjoy coming home to.” Creating a plan is tricky, though, says David Felt, owner of Russel Williams Home Services, which is why having an expert’s advice is so helpful. We’ll take his word on this, as his clientele includes some Minnesota Vikings players living in the area. Felt also shared with us he often knows what decorations other homes in the lake area are implementing so he can make your home blend in—or stand out—from the neighbors. When you create your design plan, consider decorating more than just the trim of your home. One commonly overlooked spot to highlight is the backyard. “Most people look out their back windows,” Felt says, “so why not decorate the area that you as a homeowner view most?”   Implementing Your Display Decorating your home yourself? Make sure to measure the spaces where you plan to hang the lights to ensure you buy the right amount of strands. You’ll also want to verify your lights reach an outlet and that you have enough outlets that you won’t overload the circuit breaker. We learned those homes with lights on every inch have generally worked with electricians to create additional outlets so their circuit breaker holds up through the holiday season. If you opt to use a service to put up your decorations, they’ll not only install the decor, timers and handle any electrical issues, but they’ll also supply the lights and greens. Sherry Patterson uses Rob Schlosser’s Custom Christmas Lighting service to deck the halls of her 15,000-square-foot home in Medina. Though she identifies herself as a Christmas person and has always been a fan of holiday lights, Patterson says she decided to create her own display for the first time five years ago for her grandchildren. “Rob said he could do anything I wanted to do, his prices were reasonable and he was very creative,” explains Patterson. “It’s nice to walk out [of my home], flip the switch at night and see the lights go on.” Businesses like Schlosser’s start installing light displays around Labor Day and generally install the lights at night to minimize the possibility they miss a spot. If you’re adding a garland, wreaths or other greens, it’s best to wait to add those until around Thanksgiving, adds Bastyr. “You don’t want your greens to be brown before Christmas.” When it comes to decorations, Bastyr reminds us to create a solid structure. “It’s not all about ribbons and the glittery items,” she adds. “You want to use a variety of texture and interest to your display.” Bastyr recommends planting a variety of evergreens in urns outside your home, adding berries for color.   Trends for 2012 Lighting designs, colors and materials used in holiday displays change yearly. This year, Felt says LED lights continue to increase in popularity, as they tend to shine brighter, last longer and consume less energy than their traditional incandescent competitor. Patterson can attest to this as well. Despite decorating her home, gate, the trees lining her driveway and porte-cochere with lights, her energy bill only goes up 3 percent during the holiday season. Natural elements are another big trend for 2012 decorations. Bastyr says feathers and birds such as owls that have been trendy in the fashion world have become a way to glamorize home décor. Decorating your home yourself? Bastyr recommends scouring craft stores for items to use in your display. “Have as much fun as you want to,” she says. Even items not made for outdoor use can be placed in your display, as the season only lasts for a few months. While white lights are simple and classy, colored lights continue to be popular this holiday season—think adding color to a gray or white winter. One trend you’ll want to avoid is creating a light and sound show with blinking and chasing holiday lights, as most people want crisp, clean and traditional displays.   Storing Your Decorations Just because the holiday season ends after New Year’s, you don’t have to unplug the display you’ve created. In Minnesota, we only have about three months where we have color in our landscape says Bastyr. Adding light displays to your home is not just about Christmas, but about creating beauty and interest in our scenery during the winter months, so “try to squeeze every bit of color into your landscape,” she says. Most homeowners generally turn off their lights around mid-January and the lights are taken down by the end of March. If you take down the lights yourself, check each strand to see if there is any damage to the cords, wires or bulbs. If you find damage, recycle the light strand; if not, make sure the strand is dry and store it for next year. Lights are stored best on a spool to prevent the strands from tangling, but everything else can be put in a box and stored in a dry area. If you use a service like Custom Christmas Lighting or Russel Williams, they will store your lights for you until you’re ready to put them back up next year.    & Need help? Turn to these local pros to get your decorating done right:   Custom Christmas Lighting 612.695.5390 Services: Put up, maintain, take down and store lights. Use commercial-grade lighting. Price: Average services range $300–$10,000   Mom’s Landscaping 952.277.6667 Services: Put up, maintain and take down lights. Don’t use commercial-grade lights, but use a lot of fresh greens. Price: Average services range $300–$7,000   Russel Williams Home Services 612.423.3059 Services: Put up, maintain, take down and store lights. Use commercial-grade lights. Price: Average services range $300–$700. Charge by linear foot and by number of light strands used.