30 Ideas for Christmas Lights Outdoors for Trees, Bushes, and Beyond

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For holiday lovers, coming up with Christmas light ideas each year brings as much joy as curling up with a blanket and a glass of eggnog, watching sappy yuletide movies, and exchanging gifts. Even in the midst of all those heartwarming activities, though, the holidays tend to be stressful. If you're drawing a blank on fresh exterior Christmas decor plans, think of these outdoor lighting ideas as an early present from Santa.

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The first step is to decide where you want to hang your lights. Are you looking for a simple door display, or do you want to frame the windows, line the roof, and wrap the trees? Will your driveway and walkways be included in this scene? Other details to consider are your personal style, possible color schemes, types of lighting, and yard displays.

Even if you don't hire a pro to get the job done, you'll want your setup to look like Santa's helpers themselves came over to advise you. Don't forget to prioritize safety in the process. Make sure your lights work before you attempt to hang them. Confirm the location of the nearest power source and place extension cords as needed. Have plenty of clipper hooks on hand to secure your lights. When you use a ladder, make sure you have someone to spot you. Once everything is in place, turn on the lights to see if it all measures up to your vision and then make adjustments as needed.

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Ready to get started? Here are 30 stylish holiday light ideas to guarantee that your outdoor decorations are seen and admired by all.

1. Highlight your small porch.

Don't let limited space kill your plans for outdoor Christmas lights. Use this small porch as a blueprint for your holiday decor. We can practically feel the warm glow emanating from the simple illuminated display, which features a doorway garland, window wreaths, and a tiny potted Christmas tree cleverly elevated on a step stool.

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2. Maximize door decor.

This lovely red front door from Emily Henderson is already decked out in classic holiday colors. With the addition of string lights, a potted tree with gold Christmas ornaments, and a fresh garland that trails down to frame the walkway, this festive display earns our seal of approval.

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3. Stick to a single color.

This monochrome light idea from The Home Edit feels simple and clean. For a similarly minimalist look, hang lights across the roofline. Then, accentuate the design by wrapping each of your shrubs in the same style of lights.

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4. Keep it simple.

An A-frame cabin like this is charming enough on its own, but outdoor string lights add a necessary touch of warmth to the stark forest landscape. This is a simple, classic way to increase the cozy holiday feel tenfold.

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5. Use the entire front yard.

This exterior from The Honeycomb Home isn't for the bashful Christmas decorator. Passersby are sure to be enthralled by the light-lined roof, porch railing, and garage. We love the attention to detail shown through the wreaths in each window, the doorway garland, the illuminated bushes, and the festive yard display.

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6. Opt for a standout yard display.

We honestly can't think of a more eye-catching Christmas decor idea than a gorgeous yard display, like this holiday carousel. Instead of lighting the house, shift your focus to the grounds and position a well-lit tree nearby for ultimate anti-Grinch points.

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7. Make your own lanterns.

If you want your Christmas light setup to stand out, original ornaments are definitely the way to go. These DIY hanging holiday lanterns from Paper & Stitch are made from Mason jars, stickers, heavy-duty yarn, tree trimmings, floral wire, and battery-powered LED string lights. For a non-hanging alternative, make an illuminated glass cloche display.

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8. Supersize your bulbs.

This whimsical Christmas light setup from Sugar & Cloth is yet another unique DIY project that brings even more personality to a colorful front door. The custom holiday arrangement features several gigantic (and functional!) Christmas lights. Additional string lights are wrapped around the garland, making an unforgettable display.

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9. Play with giant wood cutouts.

They don't shine as brightly as their counterparts, but these jumbo wooden DIY Christmas lightbulbs from Sugar & Cloth are simply too adorable to ignore. The large wooden cutouts are spray-painted and attached to a garland with golden twist ties. To finish off the DIY holiday display, just add your string lights of choice.

10. Use stakes to light up the lawn.

These lovely snowman and snowflake stakes feature blue solar-powered LED lights. Ideal for lining a walkway, driveway, or sidewalk, they will add a soft glow to your holiday display.

11. Create a winter wonderland with icicle lights.

There's a reason icicle lights are so popular. Not everyone lives in a climate cold enough to produce actual ice. These classic lights instantly create the feeling of a winter wonderland setting, and the cool white ones look extra icy. Bonus: Try decorating your windows with spray snow to continue the illusion.

12. Illuminate your shrubs with net lights.

Have you ever seen a perfectly illuminated set of bushes and wondered how someone managed to wrap their Christmas lights so evenly? The secret is mesh string lights. These come in a variety of colors and modes, including twinkle, low fade, waves, and steady. Each net has a single power button for easy operation.

13. Set the mood with curtain lights.

A midwinter night's dream, anyone? Curtain lights bring instant romance and whimsy to any space. Use them to embellish a covered porch or drape them over windows to instantly upgrade your holiday decor.

14. Make a hanging display.

While it's natural to first decorate the more prominent outdoor areas of your home — the roof, windows, and lawn — the tiny details can be the most fun. Take the opportunity to make some small Christmas DIY projects. A mobile like this one, made of a moss wreath and fairy lights, will add a magical glow to your porch or tree-lined walkway.

15. Take shortcuts.

Yes, they're gorgeous, but outdoor Christmas light displays take a lot of work. For this reason, we recommend utilizing as many (safe) shortcuts as possible. Options like pre-lit trees and garlands or large string light displays will cut down on decorating time and effort.

16. Give your tree trunks some shine.

We love the idea of these warm white LED mini lights on a 2-foot-by-6-foot brown wire net. The bulbs are acrylic, making them less prone to breaking. For larger tree trunks, there's a connection system that allows you to safely link up to 31 sets end-to-end. Happy tree-trunk lighting!

17. Try solar-powered fairy lights.

These fairy lights are solar powered using panels that sit on top of the included ground stake. Multiple sets can be connected so you can cover your tree trunks ​and​ branches much more easily.

18. Mimic snowfall with meteor lights.

Shoot for the stars with your outdoor Christmas light setup. These lovely lights turn on one by one in a cascading pattern, allowing them to mimic snowfall or meteor showers. For a visually captivating display, consider using light clips to hang them from nearby trees.

19. Go big with a light projector.

The only things missing from this festive light setup are carolers and an appearance by Santa himself. This snowflake light projector instantly puts us in the holiday spirit. The rest of the decor — sparse lights over the roof, greenery around the door, and a glowing Christmas tree in the upstairs window — is understated and traditional so as not to distract from the main event.

20. Mix and match pre-lit sculptures.

Not only is this pre-lit angel sculpture a vision in white LED lights (100 of them, to be precise), but it's also weather-resistant and rustproof, making it suitable for yard displays that are surrounded by snow. The addition of star-topped, spiral LED trees makes this light display extra cheerful.

21. Turn your walkway into a candy cane lane.

Here's another cute way to highlight your walkway with holiday spirit. These 4-foot-tall candy cane yard sculptures come 10 to a pack. They feature clear incandescent lights and ground stakes to secure them along the driveway or sidewalk.

22. Hang wreaths over your windows.

A holiday wreath hanging in front of a window or glass door will never go out of style. Choose pre-lit wreaths to cut down on some of the tedious work of wrapping the lights yourself. Place your indoor Christmas tree near the window for a charming yet simple scene.

23. Rely on rope lights.

For an easier way to decorate columns, large yard sculptures, or the edges of your house, go with rope lights. They're flexible, durable, and especially good for creating crisp lines. Stick to simple outlines or, if you're feeling adventurous, try creating your own light drawings on an exterior wall.

24. Line up a few oversize orbs.

This 3-foot, pre-lit metal orb from Pottery Barn is made up of 680 lights. Simply hang a few of these orbs a few feet apart on a porch for a polished, pared-down holiday light display.

25. Tie it together with bows.

The Christmas bow is associated with goodwill and unity. If you enjoy sticking to tradition with your holiday decor, then we suggest incorporating red bows in your outdoor display. A large pre-lit design makes a big statement, while a smaller one made with wired ribbon will add a timeless, sentimental touch to a DIY wreath or floral arrangement.

26. Let it snow.

Wishing for a white Christmas even though the weather forecast is all sunshine? Create your own blizzard with these giant hanging snowflakes. Their size makes them a perfect addition to a maximalist scene complete with Santa, reindeer, and flashing lights set to music. On the other hand, it also means they can stand alone as a simple front door display.

27. Light the way with stars.

One of the perks of these star lights is that they're a perfect fit for the holidays but not so seasonally specific that they can't work year-round. Display them by themselves or add a few glittery Christmas sculptures to liven up the scene.

28. String lights, but make them sweet.

Add some sweetness to your outdoor Christmas decor. These battery-powered lights can be wrapped around a fresh or artificial garland or hung directly on columns, railings, and outdoor trees.

29. Adorn your lamp posts.

For Christmas decor with a vintage spin, consider lining your walkway with these Victorian-inspired LED lamp posts. They're made of synthetic fabric over a metal frame and come with grounding stakes for easy mounting. Add a pair of bows and shiny ornaments, plug them in, and enjoy their glamorous glow.

30. Add a touch of elegance with light spheres.

While the holidays tend to bring out the inner child in many of us, there are still plenty of ideas for an outdoor Christmas light setup that looks both sophisticated and spirited. Go easy on the Santa sculptures (sorry, St. Nick) and choose more elegant accessories like this hanging light sphere from Christmas Lights Etc with a botanical arrangement inside. When you're ready to dismantle your display, simply fold the ball flat to stow it away.

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