Outdoor Lighted Christmas Decorations: Ideas & Tips

Outdoor lights

Adding lighted Christmas outdoor decorations to your home and yard can be a fun way to share your holiday spirit with passersby. With many different decoration styles available, it is easy to find suitable lighted options that match your holiday mood.

Types of Outside Holiday Décor with Lights

Most discount stores, holiday stores, gardening centers, and landscapers stock a range of outdoor Christmas decorations during the holiday season. Online retailers also stock a wide variety of light strands and more complex decorations year round. Even grocery stores and drug stores will stock basic light strands and simple decorations during the Christmas season.

Light Strands

Basic strings of Christmas lights are the most common outdoor decoration, and some of the most varied. Different sizes and styles of bulbs are available, and the strands come in different lengths and colors. Strands may blink, twinkle, or even be coordinated with built-in music.

Lighted Shapes

Lighted Christmas yard decorations

Twinkle or rope lights can be arranged in a variety of different shapes, many of which can be purchased as ready made figures. Stars and snowflakes are among the most popular shapes. Other shapes include gift packages, bells, reindeer, snowflakes, sleighs, candy canes, wreaths, snowmen, trains, and gingerbread figures. The figures can be static, or animated Christmas lights such as a flashing jack-in-the box that can add movement and interest to your decorations.


Projector slideshow decorations are perfect for wide walls or garage doors. A small projector is set up facing the display area, and the rotating show can be a series of Christmas scenes, seasonal greeting messages, or holiday pictures. A projector can even be set up in a tree or on a roof to project onto the sidewalk or a snowy yard.

Nativity Scenes

Nativities are one of the most popular outdoor religious Christmas decorations. A simple manger scene with Mary, Joseph, and the Christ Child can be set under a glowing stable, or the figures themselves may be outlined with lights or glow from within.

Inflatable Decorations

Christmas inflatables are quick and easy to assemble, and they pack a punch for any outdoor display. Santa figures, snowmen, polar bears, animated snowglobes, and themed Disney, Christmas tree, or other seasonal pop culture displays are all popular options.

Light Shows

Beautiful home with Christmas lights

No lighted Christmas outdoor decorations are more spectacular than coordinated light shows that seem to dance with the related music. Simple setups of a few hundred lights can be purchased as kits, or professional design companies can create more elaborate and intricate displays.

Lighted Candles

Candles are not just for indoor decorations. You can find giant lighted candles suitable for outdoor use as well. Candles can add a classic touch to your display and will work with any theme and design.

Designing Your Display

Home with lighted Christmas yard display

With so many different lighted decorations to choose from, it can be overwhelming to design a suitable display for your home. Consider these factors before you start:

  • Regulations: Before putting up outdoor decorations, check with your neighborhood association, home owners' association, or city council for restrictions on holiday displays.
  • Visibility: Walk around your home and judge the visibility of your decorations from different angles. For the best impact, make sure your main decorations are the most visible.
  • Snowfall: While you may begin decorating weeks, even months, before the holiday, consider the likelihood of snowfall when planning your decorations. Ground level decorations can easily become buried and invisible in areas that get heavy snow.
  • Theme: If you want to have multiple decorations, coordinate them around a central theme to avoid tacky or mismatched pieces. Consider the size and style of the decorations, as well as the light colors, when planning a display. Opt for simpler but well coordinated, symmetrical decorations for holiday elegance and beauty.
  • Security: Lighted decorations can be expensive, especially if you are using multiple decorations in a themed display. Secure light strands with clips or twist-ties so they cannot easily be pulled off trees and bushes, opt for extension cords with plug locks, and use gardening stakes to secure cords to the ground.
  • Safety: Christmas lights can be beautiful, but that beauty can be ruined in an instant with a fire. Always check cords and light strands carefully for any damage, and never overload outlets or plugs with too many lights. Use only outdoor lights and outdoor, heavy gauge extension cords.

Tips for Keeping Costs Down

Candy cane lights

The larger and more elaborate your outdoor Christmas decorations are, the more expensive they will be to purchase and operate. To keep costs down and avoid another unwelcome holiday bill, consider the following tips:

  • Choose LED lights that use less energy than incandescent lights.
  • Set lights to twinkle or flash. They will not use energy when they are not lit.
  • Set your display on a timer so it is only on for a few hours each night, and never leave it on all night long.
  • Consider lighting the display for fewer days.
  • Don't try to decorate everything at once. Start with a small display and gradually add to it each year.
  • Buy quality decorations that will last longer. This may be more expensive at first, but they will not need to be replaced as frequently.
  • Store decorations carefully between holiday seasons to avoid unnecessary damage or loss.

Add Some Festive Flair

Lighted Christmas outdoor decorations add festive flair to your home during the holidays. With many designs to choose from, the only limit to your display is your amount of holiday spirit.

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Outdoor Lighted Christmas Decorations: Ideas & Tips