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The inviting glow of string lights can make any outdoor gathering all the more magical. And when you leave them up year-round, you’re always ready for a get-together with friends.

As long as you have the right tools on hand, installing string lights can be a very simple project. However, there are a few considerations you’ll want to take into account beforehand.

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First, if you’re stringing your lights across the yard, rather than around the perimeter of a porch ceiling, for example, then it’s best to secure your string lights to a tension wire for additional support.

Secondly, make sure you have secure anchor points for your light strands. Your porch roof, a tree or even an umbrella stand can all work as anchors. Our starting point was inside a pergola. From the corner of the roof, we ran a tension wire with the string lights across the yard that attached to a pole firmly planted in the ground (and cleverly camouflaged by shrubbery).

Lastly, measure the distance to see how many strands you’ll need. Please consult your instructions to see how many strands you can safely connect to one another. It’s typically 3 to 4 strands.

Once you’ve got your game plan — and your lights, of course — you’re ready to install. Let’s get started.

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Step 1:  Install the tension wire.

We made a loop on one end of the wire using wire clamps and attached the loop to our anchor point, the pergola roof, using a screw hook. We ran the wire and secured it to the second anchor point, the pole.

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Step 2: Secure first end of strand lights to first anchor point.

We ran part of a strand inside the top of the pergola. Depending on the type of lights you have, you may need an eye bolt. We were able to hang our lights from a screw.

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Step 3: Hang string lights from wire.

To secure our lights to the wire, we used cable ties. If you are using more than one strand, connect each end to continue installation to the next anchor point.

Now it’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy the cozy ambiance of your new string lights! You should probably invite a few friends over, too.

 Find more How To basics on HowtoDecorate.com or browse ideas on our Pinterest boards.