Lighting up for the joy of it
Wrapping your house in 14,000 lights and five kilometres of wire was the normal way to celebrate Christmas, said a Blenheim woman.
Lisa Selwyn had spent $4000 on outdoor decorations this year alone.
Her power bill over Christmas was usually about $200 more than other months.
But the look on people's faces as they approached her Endeavour St home made all that money worthwhile, Miss Selwyn said.
''I save all year to buy as much as I can,'' she said. ''It takes everything I have and it's getting harder. I'm a nutter but that's alright.''
Miss Selwyn even had emergency lights to cover any unexpected electrical faults.
''People are very quick to point out a faulty light,'' she said.
Miss Selwyn developed her Christmas passion from her mother, she said.
''My mother started painting pictures on our windows facing the road in the 70s and 80s. That was before external lights,'' she said.
''That's how I celebrate Christmas.
''Miss Selwyn, who grew up in Blenheim, moved back here in 1994 after 12 years in Wellington.
She had been lighting her properties ever since.
More people used to do the same but had been put off by the cost, she said.
She remembered one street where nearly all the houses took part.
''That was astounding,'' she said.
''It would be so nice if more people did it.''
However, affording a high-impact Christmas garden was made more difficult by drunken teens causing damage, she said.
''We used to have a display on Taylor Pass Rd until somebody took pot shots at Rudolf with a BB gun,'' she said.
''Solar powered decorations are quite risky, people steal them for the panels.
''Last year was the first time Miss Selwyn put lights on her garden fence in five years.
''Previously some yahoos yanked lights off the fence. They couldn't get away with them because they were tied down but they broke the wiring so that set had to be thrown out. That was $250 down the tubes. But we have a lot of teenagers and young adults who love the display.
''A crowd-pleasing light display could annoy some neighbours, she said.
''It can be awkward with people coming to the house and parking on the street but some people park on Budge St and walk round. But our neighbours are pretty good.
''Miss Selwyn hoped to have this year's display completed by the weekend.
She had taken a week off work to concentrate on getting the house ready, including getting a dozen large Santa and reindeer inflatables into position.
''I've been working on it for two months,'' she said. ''Now I'm in panic mode.''
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Using Christmas lights outside
Clean the outside of your house before installing the lights. Spider webs, leaves and any other debris are a potential fire hazard.
Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage.
Use specially insulated clips to hold them in place and mount them out of reach.
Check all lights - both old and new - for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections.
If you are unsure about their safety, have them checked by a licensed electrical worker.
Check labels to make sure they are suitable for outside use, and read all instructions carefully before installing your lights.
Replace bulbs with ones of the same voltage and wattage. The wrong bulbs could cause overheating and start a fire.
- The Marlborough Express