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Decor

8 Tips for Outdoor Holiday Decorating

You don't want to be the only house on the block that doesn't look great this holiday season. Use these 8 tips to help you with your outdoor holiday decorating.

Christmas lights wrapped around tree brand

The holiday season is almost upon us. The weather’s getting colder, and soon the snow will be falling. Lawn and garden tools have given way to Christmas ornaments, gift wrap and artificial evergreens in most department stores. It’ll soon be time to decorate your home for the holidays, indoors and out – and if you’re the kind of person who loves getting in the holiday spirit, why wait? Use these eight tips to show off your festive spirit.

1. Choose a Focal Point

Decorating your home’s exterior, yard, flowerbeds and other outdoor space around a central focal point can help you tie everything together and build a theme for your holiday décor. Many homeowners choose their front porch or even their front door as a focal point, drawing attention to it with a nice wreath, some lights strung around the railing and perhaps an artificial outdoor tree or two.

However, that’s not your only choice. Your focal point could be a large evergreen tree in your front yard, a large statue of Santa in his sled or a nativity scene. Think about choosing a theme for your holiday decorations so everything flows together and you don’t end up buying more decorations than you need.

2. Keep It Simple

You don’t want to go all Clark Griswold with your Christmas lights. Start small, especially if you’ve never decorated the exterior of a home for the holidays before. Spend some time browsing the web for Christmas decorating ideas, and start with a manageable display. For example, just string some lights around the porch instead of lighting up the whole house. You can add to your display later or expand it next year.

3. Buy the Right Lights for Your Needs

If you’ve never purchased Christmas lights for your home before, or if it’s been a while, you may be surprised at the options available to you. There are net lights for bushes, rope lights for illuminating windows, blinking lights, multicolored lights, icicle lights and various kinds of LED lights. Figure out what kind of lights are best for the display you have in mind, as well as which lights will be cheapest to run.

4. Shop Secondhand

Looking to decorate for less this Christmas season? Who can blame you – Christmas is already expensive enough, and surely there’s a more environmentally sustainable way to get in the holiday spirit. Fortunately, you can score piles of gently used, secondhand Christmas decorations at most thrift stores. Buy used and vintage wreaths, statues, nativity scenes and other items of holiday décor for a fraction of the retail price.

5. Play It Safe

When it comes to outdoor holiday decorating, safety is paramount. Use lights labeled with the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) seal of approval and make sure they’re rated for outdoor use. Not sure about getting up on the ladder to string lights along the gutters and around windows? Hire someone to do it, or skip it altogether.

6. Ditch the Staple Gun

When it’s time to hang Christmas lights, leave the staple gun in your toolbox – that’s how your grandpa hung his lights. Electrical tape is a safe, quick and easy alternative that won’t damage your siding, shingles or fingers. It’s also great for protecting electrical connections from the elements. Use Christmas light clips to safely and easily attach lights to shingles and gutters.

7. Start at the Bottom

When decorating something tall for Christmas, such as a large tree, start at the bottom and work your way up. Use a dowel rod staked into the soil to hold an extension cord for powering your lights, and work with the lights illuminated so you can get a better sense of how the finished product will look. Get help stringing the lights around the trunk of a deciduous tree, or zigzagging them through the branches of an evergreen, adding new strings as needed.

8. Decorate Smart

Save yourself some effort and expense and only decorate parts of the yard that people will see. Have a big tree that passersby will only see one side of? Just decorate that side of the tree. You may want to skip decorating parts of the yard that aren’t visible to the public; however, if you have a back patio or deck that you plan to use throughout the Christmas season, feel free to decorate it with weather-resistant garlands, artificial trees, wreaths, lights or table arrangements.

Decorating for the holidays doesn’t have to be a chore. With a little creativity and these helpful tips, you’ll soon have an outdoor display that will inspire neighborhood passersby to stop and admire your work. 

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