Creative Ways to Decorate With Outdoor Christmas Lights

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As the holiday season approaches, neighborhoods will be transformed into twinkling displays of brightly colored Christmas lights. Some homeowners go all out, creating a true winter wonderland with hundreds of lights and displays, while others simply put up a single string of lights along the edge of their roof.

Thankfully, there's a happy medium, and you can find it by creating a magical display of lights in your yard without going overboard. Whether you like to stick with an all-white theme, string up lights in just two or three colors, or use every color light available, there are tricks for creating a Christmas light display that will have passerby’s slowing down to take a look.

Trees and Bushes

Use Christmas lights to create exclamation points of color in your front yard. Winding lights up and around your trees creates a dramatic vertical element that punctuates the lights on the rest of your home.

  • Wrap the tree trunk with lights, extending lights out and along the main branches. Using a long pole with a hook, weave strings of lights between the smaller branches to create the look of foliage. You can find poles for hanging lights in most home improvement centers near the Christmas displays.
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You have a variety of options for lighting your trees. Your holiday decorating should make you feel happy, so choose the color scheme that makes you smile when you look at the results.

  • For a dramatic, sophisticated look, use just one color of lights around each tree.
  • Create a more "natural" look by winding white or green lights around the trunk and branches, then a different color among the foliage.
  • Go for color and whimsy with multi-color strands of lights around the tree. For even more of a statement, use lights that blink on and off.
  • Finish off the look with icicle lights along the lower branches, or hang large balls of lights for a touch of drama.

It's easier than ever to light the shrubbery near your home. Lights strung along netting come in multi-color, solid colors and blinking versions. Stretch the netting carefully over the top and front of your shrubbery, coordinating with the colors in your trees.


The front door of your home should be a focal point. Use your decorative lights to create a welcoming entrance for all your holiday visitors.

Color of lights is a personal choice. Whether you prefer the look of all white, just one or two colors, or an explosion of twinkling lights in every color of the rainbow, your entryway can look magical.

  • Use hooks to attach lights to support beams or pillars near the front entrance. Circle the lights all the way from ground to roof edge for emphasis.
  • Run strings of lights around the doorframe. Make your front door more festive by using garland lights that look like pine branches.
  • A real or artificial lighted small pine decorated with red bows is a wonderful way to bring holiday spirit to your front porch or entrance walkway.
  • Finish off your front door with a wreath. If lighted, it will need to be battery-powered. A pine wreath with small white lights and a large red bow is a classic look that will complement all the rest of your holiday decorations.

Roof and Trim

The edge of the roof and your house trim are the standard Christmas light areas. Go all out to create a spectacle that will catch the eyes of everyone passing by.

  • You can use standard lights or lights that blink on and off. If you really want to attract attention, look for the extravagant displays that cycle lights on and off in time to music.
  • Edge all the architectural lines of your house with lights. The edge of the roof, support beams and pillars, trim around windows and the chimney can all be accented.
  • Use caution when accessing the roof. A sturdy ladder should be securely propped up against the house, with no large gaps or possibility of slips. Always wear shoes with good traction and walk slowly and carefully when on your roof.
  • Combine styles of lights for an interesting display. Highlight strings of traditional lights with icicles, snowflakes or stars.
  • Create designs with your lights by alternating colors in a set pattern.
  • Use your roof to set up a fun holiday display. A large arrow shaped from strings of lights pointing to your chimney will help Santa find his way on Christmas Eve.
  • You can set up a variety of premade displays on your roof, but be certain they are anchored securely, and won't blow or slip down with the wind.


Walkways look beautiful when edged with lights, so go all out at the holidays.

Choose large lights for your walkways. There are many lighted decorations made for this purpose in whimsical designs such as:

  • Candy canes
  • Oversize Christmas bulbs
  • Lollipops
  • Snowmen
  • Gift boxes

Be careful to secure wires away from the walkway to avoid trips or falls.

On the Lawn

You can set up a display on your lawn combining strings of lights and homemade or premade holiday decorations.

Popular decor themes include:

  • Reindeer
  • Snowmen
  • Nativity scenes
  • Christmas trees
  • Cartoon or children's characters
  • Christmas stories and poems
  • Trains
  • Santa and his sleigh

When setting up large displays, use outdoor-approved safety outlets for your plugs, and be sure wires are protected from damage.

  • Highlight your lawn scene with lights edging the grass, or even cover a small lawn with thickly clustered strings of lights.
  • Use blue lights to create a stream or pond appearance, or white lights for a twinkling cover of snow.
  • If you use lights that cycle on and off on your roof or trees, sticking with regular lights on your grass will prevent a feeling of chaos.

Christmas lights create a magical, happy feeling, and bring enchantment to the whole neighborhood. Decorate your house beautifully this holiday season, and enjoy the warm feeling of delight as your family, neighbors, visitors and passerby's admire your efforts.

Last Updated: December 19, 2011
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About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

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