• Celeste Vee

I MUST have festoon lights!

When Joe and I moved here to Alexandria, VA, from Texas this summer, we brought our snazzy festoon lights from Costco with us. I used this type of lighting for street closure activations back when I was planning events for SXSW, and I fell in love with them.

We had them strung up underneath our covered patio at our last place, and they added such a nice touch when we gathered either alone or with friends to bask in this idyllic ambient lighting. It felt like a party every time we walked onto the back porch!

When we got here to our new place and I realized the back patio wasn't covered I was pretty devastated. How was I going to hang my festoon lights?! But I was determined to put them up somewhere somehow. I explored a few different ideas, but I really wanted them out on the patio where people gather when it's warm or huddle near the chimeneas when it's cold. So Joe and I concocted a plan. Our big annual Fall Party is only 7 days away and I HAD to have them up before then! Since it's a rental property we had to think about long-term repercussions, too.

We created a list of supplies, made a Home Depot run, and got to work! Here's what we purchased: a wire rope kit, two screw eyes, the biggest carabiner they had, an eye-to-eye turnbuckle, and a 10 foot by 1 inch black steel pipe and T joint (not pictured). We made sure the carabiner would fit through the T joint before we made the purchase.

First, we (and by we, I mean Joe) had to drive that 10 foot steel pole 36 inches down into the ground with a maul and brute force. I totally helped. Well, I held the level to make sure it didn't go all wonky while he did the real work. Then we screwed on the T joint and attached the carabiner to it. Voilá! One side done!

Then Joe drilled a tiny hole into the corner trim on either side of the patio and screwed in the screw eyes. Ugh. Sorry, that sounds awful. I just don't know how else to say that! He's the carpenter, not me.

I held the ladder while he did the hard stuff.

He then cut the wire rope in the middle with bolt cutters, attached the eye-to-eye turnbuckle in the middle, and then attached the wire rope to each of the screw eyes on either side of the patio. (There are instructions included in the wire rope kit for how to do the attaching.)

Joe used the eye-to-eye turnbuckle to get the wire rope nice and taut then it was finally time to hang our festoon lights! Each strand of lights was 48 feet long, and we had already measured the distance from the back wall to the pole (24 feet) so we knew we could run each strand of lights one time to the pole and back. Our patio is 26 feet wide from corner to corner so we divided that by 3 and got 8.66666666666667 feet. Great. Basically 8 feet 9 inches. We ran an extension cord up to the right corner of the patio (the closest side to a power outlet) and plugged in one end of the first set of lights. We used zip ties to secure it tightly.

Then I ran that strand across to the carabiner on the tall pole and attached it around the halfway point. We ran it back to the house, used more zip ties to attach it to the wire rope and an extension cord. We ran an 8 foot extension cord across the wire rope, using zip ties to secure it intermittently and started the second strand of lights with a strong attachment of zip ties.

That strand ran back to the pole, hooked onto the carabiner and then headed back to the house on the opposite corner.

A few more zip ties to attach it to the second screw eye and we were in business! I have my festoon lights! I can't wait to have our guests hanging out on the patio under this fabulous lighting!

I plan to do another blog post about our Fall/Halloween/Oktoberfest Party next Sunday so check back the first week of November for all the gory details!

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