Everyone loves a beautiful outdoor Christmas display, and outdoor decorations often produce the first impression your home will make.
They also give you a prime opportunity to get creative with outdoor Christmas lights, which can add relief, color, and contrast.
There are many ways to decorate effectively with outdoor lights, so even if you’re just starting out, don’t worry. We have lots of Christmas wit and wisdom to share - so let’s jump into it!
Plan Your Light Design
The first and most important element of a successful outdoor Christmas scene, complete with Christmas lights, is having a plan.
There are lots of ways to decorate with outdoor Christmas lights, but having a plan will make sure your vision comes to life.
We’ve published a couple of great blogs over the past few years on choosing commercial Christmas lights for your home or business, tree wraps, using stakes and path lights, and even easy tips for putting up lights. We also published a short guide on layering with Christmas lights. Check these out to get some ideas for inspiration!
Which types of Christmas Lights are the best?
One important aspect you’ll want to consider is whether to use traditional (incandescent) or LED Christmas lights.
If you’re wondering what are the best Christmas lights to hang outside your house, we recommend using LEDs, as these are far more energy-efficient and much longer-lasting than traditional lights. They are also much more durable and should last for many seasons, especially when used in outdoor spaces.
After you settle on the type of lights you want to use, you need to figure out a few more things to complete your plan for outdoor Christmas decorating.
Determining the right focal points for Christmas Lights.
What focal points do you want to decorate and accentuate with Christmas lights? A focal point can be anywhere and you don’t have to pick just one. Popular focal points include rooflines, windows, pitches, trees, entryways, and Nativity scenes or outdoor figurines/statues, but there could be others.
Then you’ll need to measure to ensure you have enough lights to complete the display. Remember that while linear measurements are straightforward, if you spiral your lights - such as up tree trunks or around columns, you will need twice the linear length of what you’ll be wrapping, if not more.
Then, you can use tips like these to pull off your outdoor Christmas light display.
Layering is one of the most effective ways to decorate with outdoor Christmas lights.
Layering can be used to call attention to the foreground and add depth to a display. If you want to create this effect, you need to pick several different focal points staggered throughout the overall display.
Layering can also be used to add dimension and texture to a display, which is often accomplished by using more than one size or style of lightbulb, though it can also be accomplished through the use of different color bulbs, or by using solid and twinkling lights side by side.
Tips and Techniques for Installing Outdoor Christmas Lights
There are many ways to decorate with outdoor Christmas lights once you’ve determined what focal points you want to highlight and where and how you want to layer.
One common technique is called “drip edge” lighting, in which the entire roof line (typically along the gutter) is framed with lights. Some owners also choose to line the crest of the roof with lights, too, in which case it is called “ridge line” lighting. This technique frames your entire home and adds depth to the structure. LED C9 bulbs, which are on the larger side, are perfect for this technique.
Use ridge clips with this technique to help hold the lights in place and keep them centered, producing a clean, professional look.
You can also hang specialized icicle lights from your eaves, over the garage, a patio or awning, or anywhere else there is an overhang.
The ground also gives you an opportunity to add depth and layer with outdoor Christmas lights. One popular technique is to edge the driveway, sidewalk, and any pathways leading to your home. LED C9 lights are also effective with this technique, although you can also use rope lights. If you use rope or string lights, a good practice is to use stakes to secure them.
Lining the driveway and outdoor walkways with Christmas lights will add depth to your home, as the walkways and driveway radiating from your home will appear like spokes on a wheel, all converging on your house as the central focal point.
Another way to get creative with outdoor Christmas lights is to use luminaria to line your home’s driveway or other walkways. You can buy luminaria, or you can easily create your own from small battery-powered lights and paper bags, just be sure to weigh the bottom of the bag with a bit of sand. It’s a bit time-intensive, but the effects are well worth it!
Tree wraps can also add dimension and layering to your home’s outdoor decorating. You can wrap the trunk, some of the larger branches, or in the case of trees with a large, symmetrical crown, the entire crown, by draping the lights on the edges of the branches. You can use C9 LEDs for this, as well as 5mm LED string lights.
A similar technique to tree-wrapping is column wrapping. If your home’s entryway has pedestals or columns, you can wrap them in the same manner. Moreover, archways, verandas, and overhangs can also be framed with outdoor Christmas lights. Mailboxes and lamp posts can also be decorated with a spiral wrap of string lights.
If your home has bushes, shrubberies, or small trees, you can use net lighting. It is easy and effortless to apply and will add dimension to your overall outdoor decorations. You can also use 5mm string lights and cluster lights for this application.
Outdoor Christmas greenery, like garlands and wreaths, can also be accessorized with lights. You can use either pre-lit versions, or wrap string lights around them; the latter is easy, cost-effective, and easy to fix if any of your lights ever burn out. Another technique is to use a spotlight on a wreath to make a focal point of it.
You can also use outdoor Christmas lights to produce layering and relief with any of your yard accents. Whether your home has signs, Christmas trees, statues, reindeer, or other outdoor decorations, you can either wrap them in string lights, or use spotlights to direct attention to them.
Remember that outdoor Christmas lighting isn’t just ambient; you can also use it to accent your outdoor decorations, and that when you use different color lights, these will have unique effects based on their combinations.
While white lights are a traditional Christmas staple, you can mix and match lights of different colors to create contrast. A common technique is to use complementary colors that make each other pop. Many people like red and green, but blue and orange or blue and yellow lights (or even purple and yellow lights) look really good when used together.
You can also use different colors to create the impression of layers. By staggering differently colored strands, you can make a scene appear deeper or draw attention to it as another focal point.
Who has the best Christmas Lights?
We really suggest utilizing the professional and simple guidance provided by the Christmas light pros at Decorator’s Warehouse — you can find everything you need on our YouTube Channel and find the right products at dwprolights.com. That’s our goal, to help every customer have their best Christmas ever, and we have all the indoor and outdoor Christmas lights you need to bring your vision to life!