Holiday Decorating Tips for Lighting Professionals

By Trudie Southwick

The following are tips for decorating for the upcoming holiday season, as well as examples of successful projects that I have worked on in the past.

Grandstreet Theater

One of our most successful and recognized lighting projects is the Grandstreet Theater. Built in 1901 as a Unitarian Church, it now serves as Montana’s oldest continuous community theater. It is designated as a historical building, which limits modifications and attachments to the structure.

The architectural features of the building begged for attention, which meant altering our usual installation process and physically attaching the lights to the building. We had to present our product, installation and takedown methods in order to get permission for the project. A large bucket truck was required to reach the peak; and time-consuming installation of stainless-steel screws that would stay after takedown, was part of the process.

Hughes residence

What better way to start the morning than your client accepting everything you propose for lighting up their house for Christmas? That was how it went with my first client in 2005, and they have renewed every year. The one big challenge we have is their wood shingle roof that is very slippery when wet, and receives a lot of snow. Our installation process consists of a bucket truck and the guys tied off to secure areas while on the roof. Getting the lights all the way up and out in the tree sets it apart from other trees in the neighborhood that we don’t decorate.


During installation, be aware of power rules and don’t overload the client’s circuits. Also, attach a nice bow to a lamppost or garage lights and don’t charge for it — a simple gesture can go a long way.  

Trudie Southwick is manager of Christmas Decor by Nitro Green in Helena, Mont. Christmas Decor is a premier holiday lighting and decorating company in North America. The Texas-based company was founded by Blake Smith as an off-season supplement to his landscape business and as a method to provide year-round work for employees. Christmas Decor operates in more than 350 markets in 48 states and Canada. For more information, visit

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