Outdoor Lighting Ideas For Fall BBQs & Parties

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If you plan to throw a fall outdoor party or barbeque, take advantage of the many gorgeous lighting options perfect for highlighting the beauty of the season. From classic string lighting to innovative glowing jars and pumpkin luminaries, the options can be as simplistic or decorative as your personal style desires.

String Lights

Use this classic party lighting to create subtle, twinkling light throughout your landscaping and outdoor eating areas. Stick with a standard set of white lights, or try new, decorative options for the perfect fit for your outdoor party.

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  • Wrap a set of small, white string lights around tree branches and trunks to turn your backyard trees into sparkling lampposts. Use a green string for darker colored trees, and white strings for lighter colored ones. The key is to blend the lights into the color and shape of the tree, making the soft glowing light the focal point.
  • Intertwine a short string of white lights in tree branches arranged in large vases or pots around your outdoor eating area. This modern, decorative touch is a great way to bring design and nature together, and create a unique lighting option around outdoor dining tables, lounge areas and even pool areas.
  • For slightly brighter lighting and a classic party look, purchase a string of large, round, clear light bulbs, frequently seen at restaurants, carnivals and other festive outdoor events. This option will provide brighter lighting than standard string lights, and is a beautiful nod to traditional outdoor decoration. These lights can often be found at home improvement stores, retail stores and garden supply stores.
  • Stores like Restoration Hardware now offer uniquely designed string light sets, with metal detailing and beautiful accents. Each small light bulb is incased in a miniature metal lantern, globe or even reed ball. Check high-end home décor retailers for these beautiful and distinctive string lights to make a statement with your outdoor party lighting.

Finished Product 


Candles are another classic choice for outdoor party lighting, and are perfect for autumn dinners, barbeques or just a night of relaxing with friends. Select the best option for your party's theme, as well as who will be attending. Remember the potential fire hazard when decorating with candles to ensure your lighting is as safe as it is beautiful.

  • For the brightest lighting with candles, use large pillar candles inside tall glass hurricane holders. Place them in a row down your outdoor dining tables, on side tables or even on the ground if the candleholder is above two feet tall. To incorporate fall, fill the base of the hurricane candleholder with acorns, candy corn, fall leaves or twigs.
  • For a more delicate option, try using floating candles on tabletops. Fill a decorative glass bowl with water, and set one to three floating candles inside. For an added fall touch, set several brightly colored autumn leaves on top of the water to float in between the candles. Just be sure the leaves cannot touch the candle's flame.
  • For a rustic, harvest look, set tea lights or votive candles inside glass mason jars. Place the jars around your backyard on tables, walls and even steps to guide guests' path. Some home décor stores sell mason jars with wire handles, allowing them to be hung from trees.
  • If you choose colored candles, select autumn colors like yellow, orange or green, as well as metallics like gold and bronze.
  • For the safest candle option, choose flameless candles available at many retail, home improvement and craft stores. Offered in nearly every size from tea lights to large pillars, flameless candles are the perfect way to enjoy warm, flickering light without the hazard of fire.

Glow Jars

One of the most unique options for outdoor party lighting, glowing jars can be created in one of two ways. Select painted mason jars for a reusable option, or glow stick jars for a quick, DIY alternative.

  • Painted Mason Jars: To create a uniform, subtle glow from your mason jar candleholder, paint the outside of the jar with a sheer white paint, or purchase one already frosted from a home décor store. While the jar will look solid white when unlit, simply place a small candle inside to watch a warm, subtle glow fill the jar.
  • Glow Stick Mason Jars: For a last minute party lighting trick, purchase several orange glow sticks from a party supply store. Carefully break open one stick, and pour the glow-in-the-dark liquid inside a clear glass mason jar. To create the look of stars, messily splatter the liquid inside the jars, creating dots of liquid rather than smears. For a uniform look, try covering the entire inside of the jar by using a paint brush. Because it is a fall outdoor party, orange is the preferable color choice over neon yellow, blue or pink. If available, white glow sticks are the best option, as they will blend beautifully with all your décor.


Use this classic outdoor lighting option perfect for autumn parties to create rustic, stylish lighting around eating and sitting areas, as well as walkways.

  • Hang metal lanterns from large, sturdy tree branches, and fill with real or flameless candles.
  • If you have lanterns installed on posts in your backyard, this is the perfect time to use them. If they run off light bulbs rather than candles, switch out your regular bulbs with small, softer versions, no brighter than 25 watts. Some bulbs are shaped like candle flames, and are a great way to create the perfect autumn feel.
  • Be sure to select lantern light bulbs that give off a warm yellow glow, rather than daylight mimicking white light.


Use this iconic symbol of the harvest to beautifully light your fall outdoor party. Stick with classic orange pumpkins, or stylishly incorporate white and green squash into your design for the perfect autumn feel.

  • Carve designs rather than faces into pumpkins for an autumn look rather than Halloween.

Carve out the insides of a pumpkin, and cut off the bottom rather than the top. Using a power drill, drill 20 or more small holes into a pumpkin, then place a set of string lights inside. Push one light through each hole to create a brightly glowing gourd resembling the starry sky

Last Updated: August 29, 2012
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About Alexandra Kerr Through Ideal Home Garden, Alexandra covers topics ranging from interior design to home improvement, gardening and cuisine. Having a passion for cooking and entertaining in her own life, she hopes to communicate her love of home design and decorating with her readers. 

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