If you’ve ever driven through the Sunset Hills neighborhood during the holiday season, you’ve seen the beautiful lighted balls that hang from the huge hundred-year-old trees and create a magical Christmas wonderland. Sunset Hills has become nationally known for this annual tradition, with the festive light displays featured in many national news shows and magazines. They even hold an annual 5K race, called The Running of the Balls, which is a night run through the neighborhood that draws thousands of participants from all over the region. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, The Running of the Balls will be a virtual-only race this year.

On any given night in December, you’re likely to experience a traffic backup down the streets of Sunset Hills, with folks from all over Greensboro and surrounding areas driving in to see the Christmas balls. Due to their popularity, several years ago, neighbors on one street started a canned food drive and have a large trailer for visitors to donate canned goods for Second Harvest Food Bank. Who knew what started as a unique Christmas decoration would become so popular and spread so much joy while also giving back to the community?

Even if you aren’t lucky enough to live in the beautiful Sunset Hills neighborhood, you can still create your own lighted Christmas balls to decorate your yard this holiday season. Building them is easy and just takes a little time and patience – and some chicken wire and colored lights!

Here are step-by-step instructions on to make your own Christmas balls:


  •  1 roll of 24″ width “Poultry Netting” (chicken wire) with a 1″ mesh
  • 1 pair of wire cutters
  • 1 pair of work gloves
  • 2 strands of lights (100 bulbs each)
  • 1 hoisting mechanism


  1. Cut a 45″ length of poultry netting
  2. Shape netting into a cylinder
  3. Secure cylinder by twisting together the cut wire ends of the netting
  4. Begin bending the cylinder into a sphere by folding 5-6″ sections of each end over one another. Remember, your sphere doesn’t need to be perfectly round.
  5. Poke the female end of your first light strand through the mesh, snug it up and start wrapping the loose strand of lights around the sphere, similar to winding a ball of string. Keep strand of lights taut. When you get to the end (the male plug), poke it through the mesh.
  6. Now poke the female end of the next strand of lights through the mesh and plug them together. Keep wrapping.
  7. Tie the strand off anywhere, leaving about 12″ of wire at the male end for plugging into your extension cord.
  8. Plug 3-4 balls in together via a three-pronged adapter. Secure connections with electricians or duct tape.
  9. Toss the ball tied to some twine over the limb of the tree where you want to hang them.
  10. Lift all 3-4 balls at the same time and secure the line.
  11. Visit www.lightedchristmasballs.blogspot.com for more info, diagrams, and updates on the Sunset Hills Christmas Balls and Shine the Light on Hunger.

Many thanks to Johnathan and Anne Smith for getting the “Ball” rolling in our neighborhood.