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9 Expert Tips To Choose Outdoor Holiday Decorations

If yours is the dark house on the block during the holidays and you want to join your neighbors in the holiday spirit, outdoor holiday decorations are a fun way to spruce up your home and partake in the festivities.

When you think of outdoor holiday decorations, some of the obvious ones that come to mind are probably lights and wreaths, but there is a whole world of holiday decorations that you can explore to pick the ones that best suit your taste and budget. Below, we’ve listed 9 expert tips to get you envisioning the perfect outdoor holiday décor for your home.

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How can you decorate the outside of your house?

When you set out to decorate the outside of your house, take a moment to observe the area from across the street. Notice the yard, any flowerbeds, and trees. Then, choose a focal point – this allows you to frame your decorations around a specific area, allowing a theme to naturally arise.

Some obvious focal points are your front porch or front door (if you don’t have a porch). But you can get creative here too. If you have a large tree in your front yard that you’d love to dress up, use that as a focal point. Or, if you have a large bare yard, you may choose a statue or inflatable and create your own focal point this way (we’ll highlight some imaginative decorations you can explore below with Tip # 7).

There are no hard and fast rules here and you know your property best. Simply, choosing a focal point allows you to bring structure into the decorating process, so you don’t do too much or too little.

How do you decorate outdoors on a budget?

Holiday shopping is expensive enough, what with the gifts and wrapping paper and family meals. Holiday decorations don’t have to break your bank though. You may want to splurge on one or two important items, but a lot of the small stuff can be purchased for a fraction of standard prices.

Try perusing secondhand and thrift stores – often, with a little patience and a keen eye, you can spot gorgeous traditional wreaths, statues to place around your home, and additional decorative items, like tinsel, lighting, and ornaments.

You may want to start earlier in the year and check out local garage and yard sales – taking time during the year to prepare for the holidays is a perfect low-pressure way to stock up on coveted items. Nobody loves navigating crowded stores and competing for holiday items. You can stay ahead of the game with some clever throughout-the-year purchases.

How do you decorate an outdoor tree?

Before you start adding lights to an outdoor tree, measure its height. When working with mini lights, it is recommended to have 100-150 lights per foot. So, if you’re working with a 6-foot tree, you should be stocked up with 600 – 900 mini lights.

Dowel rods are excellent helpers for this process – get one staked into the ground so you can use it to hold the extension cord that will power your lights. Have it plugged in before you start so you can work with the illuminated bulbs – this way, you can have a good visual to secure a perfect final result.

While mini lights are a popular option, you can also try bulb lights and icicle lights. Bulb lights are brighter, creating a subtle glow that illuminates more space. If you’re looking to create a moderate or low light appearance, these are a great option.

Icicle lights are pretty easy to hang from an outdoor tree and will require fewer light strings, as they are larger. You’ll get a fuller-bodied twinkle from this variety; but the overall appearance will likely look a little messier than if you use smaller twinkle lights.

It’s not a bad idea to start this project as the sun sets so you can clearly see how the lights are falling and if they’re holding up evenly on all sides. Since real trees don’t always have uniform branches, avoid the standard wrap-around technique. Instead, weave your lights back and forth, creating a triangular pattern.

For a subtle finished look, keep your lights up to five inches away from the tips of the branches. For a brighter and more dramatic effect, place lights both in the deeper parts of branches and toward the tips. To avoid creating a chaotic appearance, don’t overlap the cords.

Green Red Blue Polyester Freestanding Giant Christmas Tree Inflatable
Green Cedar Pine Artificial Christmas Tree Clear & White Lights With Pot And Stand
 Plastic Multicolor LED String Light
Novelty Plastic Christmas High Shine Crystal Cluster Twinkle String Lights
Red Plastic Christmas Glass Ball Ornament
Green Yellow Red Metal Aluminum Freestanding Train LED Lighted Display Set

How to employ safety measures when decorating the outdoors?

  • You will probably require a ladder to string lights through the higher parts of your home and please – never do this alone. Always ask a friend, neighbor, or family member to support the base.

  • Live trees should be kept away from heat sources – this means no candles, heaters, or fire pits near live trees. If you must have a little firelight, use artificial candles with a flickering light source to give off that warm holiday feel. Try mixing and matching different colors but stick with a color palette of no more than six colors.

  • This next tip is important year-round but becomes even more paramount during the holidays – have a fire extinguisher readily available and make sure all able members of the family know exactly how to use it.

  • If you love the look of poinsettias, try opting for an artificial variety. Poinsettias are poisonous if consumed – best to keep these plants away from curious children and pets.

  • If you’ve pulled any lights out from the garage, take the time to inspect them closely as you untangle them. If you spot any frayed wires or loose connections, it’s time to replace them. No budget is worth risking the lives of your loved ones.

How to keep overwhelm at bay?

If you want the look without the work, there are a few simple outdoor decorating ideas that can give you just that.

  • To give your entryway a holiday upgrade, a wreath is a great staple. These can be purchased already decorated and all you have to do is place it on your front door.

  • Do you like the idea of lights but are not planning to climb a ladder? Use pathway lighting.

  • Add a lively, festive feel to your front porch with some** potted evergreen plants** – these can be real or artificial, whatever your preference.

  • Add a beautiful ribbon – silver, red, and gold all work well, and voila! Your outdoor space is spruced. You may want to consider purchase of holiday-themed matching planters as well.

  • If you don’t have real snow but you’d like to imitate a wintery wonderland, try an artificial snow spray on your windows.

  • Add a few snowflake window decals for good measure and your home will appear to be in an entirely different climate.

What are the best outdoor decorations for pathway lighting?

There are many options for pathway lighting – you can choose:

  • a lantern style,
  • a winter wonderland style reminiscent of how the North Pole is portrayed in movies,
  • snowflake-shaped lights,
  • a simple set of colorful bulbs that lead right up to your front door.

The design styles are nearly endless, so you are sure to find something that fits your envisioned theme.

Most pathway lights have stakes that need to be buried into the soil on either side of the walkway – if this style does not agree with you, you can opt for battery-operated artificial candles and place them spaced apart on the walkway itself. This makes for a much easier clean-up once the holidays are over.

Pathway lighting is not only perfect for complementing the decorative theme of your home during the holidays, it’s also an incredibly pragmatic feature that helps direct guests as they arrive and depart from your home.

Remember Tip #1: when choosing your pathway lights, make sure they complement your focal point. If your focal point is your front entrance, pathway lights lead the eyes right to the center. However, if you’ve chosen a focal point off to the side – like a nativity scene, for example – choose pathway lights with a subtle glow so they don’t compete with the main focal point.

Silver Metal Damp LED Pathway Light
Black Plastic Wet Solar Powered LED Pathway Light
Green Black Plastic Polyurethane Electric Pathway Light String Lights
White Silver Plastic Polyurethane LED Luminaria Bags
Plastic Damp Plug In LED Pathway Light
Yellow Red Green Plastic Outdoor Garden Mushroom Solar Powered LED Pathway Light

What other decorations, besides lights, can you use?

Lights are the go-to decoration item and for good reason – they illuminate your home beautifully in the evening and inspire that holiday cheer everyone loves. But you can have fun with decorating using many other items! Check out the list below for a little inspiration:

  • Inflatables – These fun additions to your home can be placed on your lawn or on your roof. All you need is an outdoor extension cord and some patience during set-up. Follow your theme and include your favorite holiday characters. Once the holidays are over, these deflate and can be stored away neatly until the next year.

  • Three-dimensional figures/Pop-ups – Like inflatables, you can design a theme with a set of three-dimensional figures on your lawn or roof. These items come equipped with built-in LED lights and require some assembly on your part. The pop-up models make disassembly easier by collapsing to conserve space when not in use.

  • Outdoor couch pillows – If you have outdoor seating, decorative outdoor couch pillows are simple, affordable options that effortlessly bring holiday cheer into the space!

  • Light projector – For extra pizazz, try a light projector! You set these up at the front of your property and let the projector work its magic against the outer walls of your home. Imagine swirling snowflakes, snowmen, and more! These are sure to grab the attention of any passerby.

Freestanding Wall Mounted Wood Cat Lawn Art Figurine
White Plastic LED Skulls Whirl A Motion Projection And Strobe Light
Green Amber Metal Plastic Wide Angle LED Palm Lighted Trees & Branches
Orange Polyester Freestanding Halloween Inflatable Haunted Tree Decoration
Brown Red Yellow Polyester Freestanding Inflatable Turkey Thanksgiving Decoration
Black White Polyester Lighted Christmas Inflatable Snowman

How to dress up your front door?

  • If you are not a fan of wreaths, try a handmade sign that reads “Happy Holidays!” These can be found in stores, online, or with a little creativity, customized on your own!
  • A simple string of lights over the top of your door is also a great addition to your entryway.
  • Do you already own a holiday welcome mat? Dust it off and display it! These are an easy and inexpensive way to get your holiday gears moving.
  • If you usually have potted plants by your entry way, add a couple of string LED lights to brighten them up!

Even if the rest of your home isn’t fully dressed up for the holidays, these special touches by your entryway give off warmth and are sure to make you smile each time you come home.

Polyester Black Christmas Tree Door Mural
Yellow Red Freestanding Lighted Christmas Decoration Set
Black Yellow Metal Honeybee And Sunflower Garden Stake
Red White Coir Plastic Vinyl Christmas Antlers Outdoor Door Mat
Red Yellow Brown Plastic Vinyl Huge Santa's Reindeer Barn Garage Door Mural
Blue Polyester Scary Halloween Pumpkins Door Mural

How to prioritize energy efficiency during the holidays?

LED lights are the way to go. Although these are initially more expensive than incandescent options, they are so long-lasting, the price differential is absolutely worth it. LED lights only use about 10 percent as much electricity as incandescent light bulbs. This is because incandescent bulbs have to first heat up the filament prior to producing light – this heat-up requirement takes up 90 percent of the energy utilized for light.

On the other hand, LED lights produce only small amounts of heat, making them much more energy efficient. Not only do they help you save on your energy bills during the holidays, they are also much less likely to become a fire risk. So, while the initial cost may have you reconsidering your LED lighting purchase, remember these lights last up to three times longer than incandescent bulbs. They are worth the investment.

In addition, they are more lightweight and therefore easier to hang above your head. Since they are made of plastic, they’re not so easily broken and overall, they are a much safer option.


Decorating can become a full-time job if you want to go all-out – but it can also be done in an hour if you don’t want to spend too much time. Either way, choice pieces make a huge difference. There’s plenty to play with in between the two extremes too! Just don’t forget: start with your focal point, envision your design, and get to decorating! We are sure you, your neighbors, and guests will enjoy the festive fruits of your labor!

Lily is a modern designer with great appreciation for sleek architecture, a love for art in its many forms, and a passion for sharing her experience with people. If you’re looking for advice on how to modernize your old-fashioned place or make your new restaurant a visual blast, she’s definitely the one to ask.