Friday, December 13, 2013

These 'Little Lites' of Mine....

Truth be told, there's probably a little bit of Clark Griswold in each of us, so I'm sharing some great lights I found this year, an alternative to the electric lights.  This is NOT a paid post, but if either of these companies (or the battery makers) want to fund my holiday, now's your chance.

The first is 'Little Lites' (from Big Lots).  These are just as the label states:  battery-operated, LED warm white light set (not those laser beam blue lights).  They have a built-in timer with a push button to turn on for six hours, then they go off for eighteen, and repeat each day.  The battery pack even has two different hooks so you can hang it - a teacup c-shape hook, and/or a snap-on clip so you can hang it over a wire shelf or wood as much as a half inch thick or so.  At $5 a pop, I bought a six, knowing they'd come in handy, maybe even after the holidays.  They take two D batteries (which aren't cheap), but a friend who has used these lights swears the batteries last a good five months.  Sold!
I have several two tall shelving units in my TV / family room which flank our big screen TV.
I used one strand of the 'Little Lites' for my nativity scene on one shelf on one unit.  There are also electrical outlets on my wall units, and built in lights for the cabinets, but I don't use those regularly.  These 'Little Lites' add just that little oomph to the shelves in a low-maintenance way.
I used a second strand on another shelf that would normally hold tealight candles to uplight the word JOY in this vignette on the other shelf unit.  Real flames were out of the question here, and the battery operated tealights are a bit of a nuisance to turn on and off each time I want the glow.  'Little Lites' were a great alternative.
I have a third strand of the lights on otherwise unused wine rack over a wet bar, where I hung a wreath that was without lights.  There are no electrical outlets near this area, so the 'Little Lites' were perfect.  I was able to clip the battery pack on the rack in the back, out of sight.
The other MAJOR time saver I took the plunge on this year was investing in Frontgate's Luminara® flameless dream window candles for our 22 house windows.  I read customer reviews, which were overwhelmingly positive, took advantage of a special offer, and got a good price on these back in early October.  Good thing, because they seem to sell out quickly (I couldn't even find the link on their website to show them here, but my link does show a video of the lights and how they work - a very realistic, flickering flame).
The lights I had worked just fine, and for the last two years I kept telling myself to leave it alone.  But when Mr. P. kept asking if I couldn't get timers for the outlets last year, I thought, "the cords are ugly enough and I am NOT going to make it worse, or invest $ with timers".  My bet said they most likely wouldn't ever be synchronized to turn on and off to suit me either.  Instead, we'd be looking like the Waltons saying goodnight to each other, with every window going dark at different times every night.
Mr. P. helped me turn all the switches on the new candles that first night to synchronize timing, and they've worked like a charm ever since - on for five hours, off for nineteen.  They can also be turned on continuously (two switches).  After the first few nights of perfect synchronicity of on/off, I am happy to say the electric lights are now segregated from my official Christmas decor, and will be purged.  Mr. P. urged me to buy a few extra just as insurance, but I didn't, so I'll still have the electric lights until either Frontgate restocks or I find another source with a good deal.  The batteries are supposed to last 500 hours, which should easily get us through the holidays.

While on the subject of lights, one other big lighting task I self-impose have at Christmastime is welcome lighting for the outside parking when we host.  I also place small lantern lights on my stairway, just inside the main front entry.  Here's what that workshop looks like, in progress (in my dining room, from last year):
For the welcome lights, I use (and re-use) white bags, with pineapple cut-out inserts with the small, battery-operated tealights (as on the wooden chest on the right in the photo above).  You can see an assembled one with the tealight reflecting inside the bag, standing upright near the table's center, above.  I assemble 24 of these - 12 for each side - to mark parking on our river lots.  And I never get a photo of it because my SIL usually places them for me, while I'm in the kitchen doing fifteen other things.

The little lanterns are what I use on the stairway (pictured on the treads in the photo below). The tealights and candles are much cheaper now, but were not when I started using them years ago.   Each of these candles takes one of those flat, nickel-sized batteries you see pictured on the workshop table.  I remove every.single.one of those batteries each year, and place them in my silver chest, not touching each other, to try extending the battery life.
I only use these the battery-operated tealights and candles for company, and now you can see why - a bit of a pain to set in motion.  I suppose I'll look for more efficient replacements sometime, but for now, it's like the window candles - I keep telling myself to leave it alone - they still do the job.  Or maybe I can find a way to string the 'Little Lites' through the garland without the battery packs weighing them down.  Sometimes I'm just penny wise, but pound foolish.  Or a cheapskate.  Are you ever either, or both?