Christmas Lights and Outdoor Holiday Decorations

01
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Holiday White Lights

Outdoor Christmas Decorations
Outdoor Christmas Decorations. Photo by Robert Barnes/Moment Mobile Collection/Getty Images

Holidays are a wonderful excuse to showcase the architectural features of your home. Strings of lights and other outdoor Christmas decorations let you highlight the details you love most. With imagination, you can also transform your house into something exciting and new. The trick? Choose a focal point, limit your colors, and go easy on lights that flicker and blink.

Browse through these pages to learn what your neighbors are doing around the world to celebrate Christmas and brighten the winter skies. If you're doing something special with your own dwelling, put a light on it!

02
of 09

Design With Christmas Lights

Outdoor Christmas decorations in Jeffreys Bay, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Outdoor Christmas decorations in Jeffreys Bay, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Photo by Wikimedia user NJR ZA, Creative Commons Share-Alike 3.0

The owner of this two-story home in South Africa selected solid white Christmas lights for most details. Green, red, and blue Christmas lights add highlights.

1. A subtle band of red and green Christmas lights defines the shape of the roof. This approach of outlining the architecture is also a common practice in large, commercial buildings, like the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, CA.

2. It used to be real icicles hanging overhead! Now, white icicle lights illuminate the eaves.

3. Windows provide a great opportunity for decoration, both outside and inside. Narrow strings of white lights accent many of the window muntins.

4. At the center gable, green Christmas lights transform a conventional rectangular window into the illusion of a grand, classical Palladian window.

03
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Directing Attention

Outdoor Christmas Decorations
Outdoor Christmas Decorations. Photo by Denise Taylor/Moment Mobile Collection/Getty Images

It's easy to attach strings of lights to straight edges, so outlining the roof is a typical application of exterior lights. What else could you do to make your display a little less geometric? Do you want people to be looking at your entire roof or do you want them to focus on the dormer?

Where you put the lights is where people will look.

04
of 09

I'll have a Blue Christmas without you

Outdoor Christmas Decorations
Outdoor Christmas Decorations. Photo by Denise Taylor/Moment Mobile Collection/Getty Images

When did Fifty Shades of Blue represent the colors of Christmas? Maybe it was when Elvis Presley's Blue Christmas became one of the Top 10 Sad Christmas Songs. Or maybe it became popular from energy conscientiousness—for many people, blue screams LED energy efficiency. Even if the lights are energy hogs, blue is cool.

Realize these things, though, before you take this cool plunge:

  1. Once you have a string of blues, bulb replacement really does have to be blue, too. No easy transition.
  2. If you like the look, you can try to temper it with colorful lawn ornaments.
  3. Outlining your home in shades of blue may make your house look like an x-ray. Some people like the scientific radiation look. Others may stay away, which may be the intent.

05
of 09

Using Floodlights

Outdoor Christmas Decorations
Outdoor Christmas Decorations. Photo by Patricia Marroquin/Moment Mobile Collection/Getty Images

Strategically placed floodlights allow the homeowner more flexibility than strings of lights. The floodlights can showcase different areas of your property and colors can be changed easily. In fact, they are so flexible and easily installed that a homeowner could do too much. How do you know when you've gone overboard with the lighting?

06
of 09

Rooftop Message Shouting

Outdoor Christmas Decorations
Outdoor Christmas Decorations. Photo by Robert Barnes/Moment Mobile Collection/Getty Images

Beautiful white lights illuminate every detail of this suburban home. The red "Merry Christmas" atop the garage is nicely balanced with the colorful strands of tree lights. But here's a question—are the words necessary? Don't the lights themselves speak volumes without the writing on the wall?

07
of 09

Electric Candlelight

Outdoor Christmas Decorations
Outdoor Christmas Decorations. Photo by Robert Kirk/Moment Mobile Collection/Getty Images

Before the 19th century invention of the electric light, people used candles to illuminate and decorate their houses - and what a fire hazard that would be! This house and yard would be in a perpetual ball of flames!

But what if you displayed electric lights as if they were candles? Where would they go? How many?

Learn more about the History of Electric Christmas Tree Lights.

08
of 09

Maintaining Symmetry

Outdoor Christmas Decorations
Outdoor Christmas Decorations. Photo by Nicole Kucera/Moment Mobile Collection/Getty Images

When everything is working, your holiday lights can display the perfect symmetry of your home. When one wreath shorts out, there goes the neighborhood!

09
of 09

Magic Storybook

Outdoor Christmas Decorations
Outdoor Christmas Decorations. Photo by Robert Barnes/Moment Mobile Collection/Getty Images

How you assemble your lighting display gives a message to the viewer. What is it that you want to say? Come on in? We love lights?  Or maybe, simply, Happy Holidays!