Amusing stories from a Christmas decoration hotline

Stumped about why your tree lights won’t turn on? Help is just a phone call away

5 Facts About Holiday Light Displays Thomas Edison is credited with putting up the first Christmas lights display. Australian David Richards holds the Guinness World Record for the largest display of Christmas lights on an artificial tree. A 15-year-old named Albert Sadacca is said to have popularized Christmas tree lights. Lighting a Christmas tree could cost as much as $300 in 1900. That's $2000 in today's dollars. Each year, 20 million Christmas lights are recycled in Shijiao, China.

Most people are familiar with Butterball’s hotline to help cooks prepare the best turkey possible for their holiday meals, but did you know there is a similar hotline for holiday decorations?

The LightKeeper Pro Hotline from Ulta-Lit Tree Co., the manufacturers of LightKeeper Pro and LED Keeper, is dedicated to providing tips and advice for Christmas lights both inside and outside your home.

The technical team has received some comical calls since the hotline started in 1996, the company said in an email.

Here are a few the tech team shared:

“Once a call came in from Alaska and the caller joked that her home was near the North Pole. I asked how far the caller was from Santa’s house, and the caller said about 1 mile. After guiding her to fix her light set, she said she was so happy that she said she’d be sure to let her neighbor know I belonged on the ‘nice’ list.”

“My first year as a technician, I was working with a caller for over 20 minutes,” another technician shared. “We had gone through the basics and all of the steps of how to fix a light set, but he was still not having success. Toward the end of the call, I felt truly stumped. Then the caller asks, ‘Should my light set be plugged into the LightKeeper Pro’s A/C Plug?’ I responded: ‘No, it should be plugged in an A/C power source such as a wall outlet. Why?’ The caller responded with a long ‘Ohhhhhhhhhh!’ followed by, ‘That’s not what I was doing.’ That was the first step we went over together at the top of the call.”

And perhaps the most comical:

“A question I receive often is, ’How do I fix this light set?’ I asked where the light set was, because our approach is different on a light set that is not attached to anything versus let’s say a pre-lit tree or a wreath. I could not believe my ears when the response was, ‘On the butt.’ I said: ‘I’m sorry, I must have misheard you. Can you repeat that?’ The caller said: ‘The light set is on the butt. I’m working on a wire deer that usually goes on my lawn, but the butt isn’t working and I need to fix it.’ So I helped this caller as I helped every caller — we successfully got the rear end of that deer shining brightly!”

The Lightkeeper Pro Hotline said it expects to receive its 100,000th phone or email question this holiday season.

“This year is one of the most exciting for my business in recent memory,” said John DeCosmo, president of Ulta-Lit Tree Co., makers of LightKeeper Pro and LED Keeper. “The LightKeeper Pro Hotline is something I’ve had in place since I began my business, and having the LED Keeper in all Home Depot stores certainly makes me proud.”

DeCosmo shared some of his tree lighting tips.

Measure: When planning the number of lights you’ll need for your tree, estimate at least 100 lights for every foot of tree height.

Decide between LED and incandescent: LEDs are more expensive than incandescent lights, but typically last longer. When it comes to energy usage, a tree with 1,000 incandescent lights can cost $10 over an average holiday season while the same tree using LEDs costs around $1.50.

Consider indoor vs. outdoor: Commercial grade light sets are more reliable for outdoor use because of their durability and thicker insulation.

Inspect: Before stringing lights, check for broken bulbs and sockets, frayed cords, burned out lights and loose connections. For sets with bulb outages, use a tool for either incandescent or LED lights. Plug the empty bulb socket into the socket connector, then squeeze the trigger a few times and most light sets will illuminate within seconds.

Connect: For best results when using incandescent lights, connect no more than three strands of ministring sets together. LED light sets can handle connecting more than 30 strands together.

String: When stringing lights on a tree, begin at the top of the tree with the light set plugged in. If a light set blinks during stringing the tree, you may have a loose bulb.

Replace and repair: Occasionally check for any bulbs that aren’t working and replace them as soon as possible to get the most of your light sets. Two burned out bulbs can decrease the lifespan of the light set by 39%; four burned out bulbs by 67%.

If you need help this holiday season, contact the LightKeeper Pro Hotline by calling 888-858-2548 or emailing to be put in touch with an expert in lighting. The LightKeeper Pro Hotline is available 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. CT weekdays all year, and on weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas.