It’s not Christmas until you’ve hung every last string light you’ve ever owned in an effort to outshine your neighbors. But as you are tacking, stapling, and duct-taping your way to a brighter holiday, you may wonder—could this twinkling frenzy cause damage to your new fence? Keep reading for a comprehensive list of the dos and don’ts to lighting your fence for the holidays.

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Do: Use Fence Clips

When it comes to hanging holiday lights, we’re lucky to live in a modern world and to have modern tools at our disposal. This means that you can find fence clips at your local hardware store for just about every type of string light. 

We recommend that you look for products that are sturdy but flexible and that you buy clips specific to the type of light you plan on hanging—whether that be C3-C9, dome, mini, or icicle string lights. (If you happen to have a specialty string light that doesn’t work with one of the above-mentioned clip types, opt for large, 1” binder clips from your office supply store.)

As for which types of clips work best for different fence types, here’s a quick guide:

  • For aluminum fences, we recommend plastic clips or wire loops.
  • For vinyl fences, we recommend hooks with waterproof adhesive strips.
  • For cedar fences, we recommend plastic clips or the binder clips mentioned above.

Generally, it’s a good idea to play it safe and avoid clips that require the use of screws or nails. Not only do these leave unsightly holes along the length of your fence, but they can lead to rotting, splintering, and/or breaking over time.

Don’t: Pull Out the Staple Gun

We’ve all done it: pulled out the staple gun or duct tape in a fit of frustration as we struggled to get our lights to hang just right. But we don’t recommend either product for your new fence. Any penetration to the material, be it cedar, aluminum, or vinyl, can provide an entryway for water and/or insect damage. And believe it or not, duct tape has been known to damage finishes and pull up paint as well.

What’s more, a staple gun can damage your lights beyond repair. One small puncture in the wrong place could force you to retire an entire strand of lights. With the overhead costs of the holiday season seeming to mount each year, we know you don’t want that.

Do: Use Cable Ties

Cable ties (or zip ties) will only work on fences with space between each picket. So, we only recommend them for aluminum and/or chain link fencing. Or, if you have a custom-designed cedar or vinyl fence.

If you can fit ties around your railings or pickets, this may be the best option available to you. Not only are cable/zip ties pretty affordable and easy to use, but they also don’t pose any risk to the surface of your fence. 

Don’t: Forget to Inspect Your Electrical Outlet

Don’t get so hung up on the various types of available mounting devices that you forget your basic standard safety precautions. Before you start installing, take a moment to inspect your outdoor electrical outlet—especially if you haven’t used it since this time last year.

Keep an eye out for outlet covers that are cracked or chipped. These conditions may seem minor, but they represent a shock and fire hazard. You should also watch for any signs that the outlet is hot or sparking.

A quick peek at your outdoor electrical outlets will tell you whether all is clear or if it’s time to call an electrician. Please don’t ever neglect this crucial step in your outdoor lighting process. If you do, a damaged fence may be the least of your worries. 

Do: Invest in Permanent Color-changing LED Lighting

Does this year find you with some extra room in the holiday budget? Then you might consider putting an end to all future string-light-related woes. 


With glorious, beautiful, permanent LED lighting. 

Color-changing permanent outdoor lighting has recently gone mainstream. And while the upfront costs might give you pause, we think this solution is worth some consideration if your budget allows it. 

The main advantage of this solution is that you won’t have to worry about taking down and putting up your lights every year. Depending on the provider, you may be able to leave this one-time job up to a professional. Naturally, this drastically reduces the risk of fire or other damage to your outdoor structure. 

Don’t: Use Indoor Extension Cords

Indoor extension cords are not built to withstand exposure to the sun, snow, rain, or whatever other weather conditions Mother Nature throws at us. This is why it’s so important to only use extension cords that are made for the outdoors. These will have special insulation as well as a higher amp rating to allow for a higher electrical current. 

One final tip: safely store your outdoor extension cords in the garage, a storage unit, or within your home during the off-season. Extension cords should be used as a temporary measure to your lighting needs, not a permanent one. 

Do: Hang Your Lights Before Thanksgiving!

We know this is a controversial take. But at Mae Fence, we believe that it’s never too early to start spreading Christmas cheer. 

No, we aren’t offended by the sight of tinsel on store shelves in October. Our fridges are lined with eggnog well before Halloween. And you may even catch us caroling before the leaves change color! 

So, if you want to hang lights on your fence before Turkey Day, we think you absolutely should. Just be sure to follow the tips we talked about and your fence can look forward to many more Christmases to come.

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We’d love to answer your questions about pricing, the process, our approach or anything else!

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