How Do You Hang Christmas Lights on a Garage?

I never realized how much of a competition it was to have the best display of Christmas lights on your house. In our neighborhood, nobody wants to be the homeowner with the sad-looking house during Christmas.

No matter which way your garage faces, it’s a perfect place to add a little flair to your holiday decorations. But how do you hang Christmas lights on your garage door?

I’ve always loved walking down a street where every house is lit up. It really helps get me in the holiday spirit.

To hang Christmas lights on a garage door, you need to use the right hooks and clips. This will make the hanging process straightforward, and ensure you don’t damage your garage door. You also don’t want to use any hanging methods that can cause a fire from damaged or open wires.

The rest of the article will discuss the process in more detail. Electric lights can be a fire hazard, so keep reading for some safety tips that will help you and your family stay safe during the holidays.

How to hang Christmas lights on your garage

Getting Started

To get started hanging your Christmas lights, it depends whether you’re re-using old lights or starting from scratch with a new set.

Unpack Your Old Christmas Lights

No matter where you store your Christmas lights, it’s time to get them out.

You’ll want to be sure that your lights aren’t all tangled up and that they’re in good shape. A good idea is to stretch them out completely on your garage floor and plug them in to confirm that all the bulbs still work. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve strung up lights on my house or Christmas tree only to find that one section didn’t work. Lesson learned.

If you do find a faulty strand of lights, consider replacing it. Frayed, cut or burnt wires are fire hazard. If you have a strand of lights with individual burnt bulbs, you can replace them with LED lights

You should also avoid attaching too many lights together. Instead, arrange the lights in such a way that only three strands are connected.

Buy a New Set of Christmas Lights

If you don’t have Christmas lights for your garage already, you can buy some at your local store or online. String lights are the most common options used, but you can experiment with novelty or silhouettes. 

No matter what else you do, you need to make sure you’re using Christmas lights designed for outdoor use.

If you use lights that are made for indoor use on your garage door, they’ll get damaged easily. It can also lead to a blown fuse.

Options like the Holiday Essence 300 and Prextex 100-Count use energy-efficient LED bulbs, which won’t drastically increase your energy bill. LED lights are low-voltage, which means that you don’t have to worry about your lights overheating or getting too hot to touch.

I like to shop for Christmas lights about mid-way through the holiday season for the following year. Usually I’ll cruise through the Christmas section at my local Target to see what’s on sale.

Major retailers often start putting Christmas decorations on clearance early so they can clear out the stock and have less to store for the following year.

How to Connect Power to Your Lights

Christmas lights can be powered in two ways: connecting a cable to a wall socket, or via battery.

Plug-In Christmas Lights

Most Christmas lights just plug in to an empty outlet and get powered by your home’s electrical supply. They’re easy, convenient and you don’t need to worry about whether they have enough battery to turn on.  

As with anything electrical in your home, you need to be careful.

Make sure that the outlets works correctly. Both the cables and connections should be completely waterproof to avoid electricity mishaps that may be caused by melting snow.  

If possible, use an outlet with a weather cover to help. If moisture gets into your home’s electric circuits it could cause damage.

Solar or Battery-Powered Lights

Recently, I’ve noticed more and more Christmas lights that are either battery powered, or solar powered.

Battery powered lights usually only require simple AA batteries to run. They’re not as bright as the lights connected to your home’s electrical supply and don’t come in nearly as many styles.

However, they are safer in a house with children or in the garage where it can be tough to keep moisture out.

Many battery-powered lights come with built-in timers to save power. This way, you can set when you want the lights to turn on and off, thus extending the lifespan of your batteries.

Solar powered Christmas lights are similar, but instead of having a replaceable battery pack, they come with a small solar panel. During the day, the solar panel collects energy to charge the internal battery. At night, that battery powers the lights.

If your garage has existing solar panels, there may even be a way to hook your lights directly into them.

A Better Method Than Nails or Staples

When hanging your Christmas lights around your garage door, never use staples, nails or hot glue.

No matter how careful you may be, these can potentially damage the protective casing around your wires, creating a fire hazard. Instead, use plastic hooks, clips or screw eyes to hang your Christmas lights around your garage door.

Personally, I have some stainless steel screw eyes that are permanently mounted around the trim on my house. It’s easy to hang up my Christmas decorations because everything is already in place to hang them. For the rest of the year, the eye hooks are small enough not to be noticed.

Your local hardware or home improvement store should have these. Look for options that can attract safely and securely to your gutters, shingles or screw into stucco.

Clips for Vertical Lights

Do you want to hang your Christmas lights vertically along the sides of your garage doors? 

Depending on your house, your garage door might not have anywhere to permanently mount fasteners for your lights. If not, consider buying trim clips that can wrap around the light cords. 3M makes an entire line of Command hooks for nearly every possible use.

The clips attach to your garage with some adhesive. They’re not a permanent solution, but they should last through the holidays.

Space the clips approximately one foot apart, and definitely have them mounted before you start hanging the lights. Otherwise the weight of the wire as you’re hanging it could tear them from the wall.

If your garage has elaborate molding or other designs above it, start from the top and work your way down. Alternatively, you can start the installation process from one side and gradually move to the other side until you are done.

Never Attach Clips or Hooks Directly to Your Garage Door

Your garage door is usually made up of steel or fiberglass and may have a layer of insulation in the middle. If you attach clips or hooks directly to the door (especially if you’re screwing directly into the door), you’ll end up damaging the door.

Not only will this damage the surface of the door, but it may hurt the door’s durability or ruin how it opens and closes.

It is also likely that you’ll damage a panel or more in the garage door if you use nail-in hooks and clips. Although you can easily find a service to repair the damaged panel, it is an expense you can avoid and still enjoy your Christmas lights.

Hiring a Professional Is OK

Finally, there’s no shame in having someone else hang your Christmas lights around your home and garage.

You can find professional handymen online through services like Angie’s List. Your community Facebook groups are also a great way to find reputable people in your area.

If you intend to decorate other parts of your home with lights, working with a professional can save you money and time.

Safety Tips

  • Get some help. Even if you can complete the installation on your own, you’ll need someone on hand to untangle the lights and help you hold the opposite ends when it is time to hang the lights. This helps you avoid accidents or damaging bulbs.
  • Test the lights often. This will allow you to find any strings or lights that are not working while you are still in the process of hanging the lights. You don’t want to find out that a string doesn’t work long after you’ve dropped your tools. If you find a string that isn’t working, confirm that it is connected properly.


Hanging Christmas lights on your garage door is a simple process, but there’s a lot involved with it as well. You need to pay attention when you’re putting up the lights.

Apart from choosing lights with a power option that is safest for your family, you also need to use clips and hooks that can hold the strings in place perfectly.

Don’t forget to avoid using nail-in hooks on your garage door panels. Apart from not holding the lights properly, they can do permanent damage to your garage door panels.

When you are done with your installation, test it on the spot to ensure everything works fine.

For other holiday decorating ideas, check out our article on how to get some scary results decorating your garage door for Halloween!