Outdoor holiday decorating ideas

Outdoor Holiday Decorating Ideas

There are two schools of thought: those that decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving, and those that absolutely have to wait until after Turkey Day to hang that first ornament. No matter what camp you belong to, ‘tis the season to start thinking about your outdoor holiday decor and planning your decorating strategy.

Holiday decorating doesn’t have to be the same mundane colored lights on the front of your house and light-up wire deer that graze in your front yard. Allow the beauty and elegance of your indoor festive decor to spill to the outside of your home as well, showcasing your style and personality.

Many indoor decorating ideas can be tweaked to use outside, But if you’re stuck and looking for something new and exciting, here are some tips and ideas for holiday decorating to help you get the creative juices flowing.

Tips For Holiday Decorating

When decorating the outside of your house it’s important to keep in mind a couple of tips that are unique to that environment. Especially if you live in a northern climate where your decorations will be exposed to inclement weather.

  • First of all, think outside the box. Holiday decorating doesn’t have to be red and green. Decorate with gold and silver, or any other color that catches your eye.
  • Keep a cohesive color theme to prevent your decorations from looking overly busy. One main color with one or two accent colors is best. Metals are a great neutral that can be paired with anything.
  • Look for creative, inexpensive additions to your holiday decorations. Ornaments can be purchased at the discount store; glass vases can be bought from a second-hand store; greenery can be taken from bushes or shrubs in your yard.
  • If decorations require electricity make sure extension cords and light strands are rated for outdoor use. This is critical if you live in a snowy climate.
  • Use a GFCI plug if possible to increase the safety of your outdoor lighting. A GFCI will quickly shut off power if there is a fault anywhere along the circuit.
  • Plug lights into a programmable timer to automatically turn your decorations on when it begins to get dark and then shut them off later in the evening. This helps to keep the electric bill manageable.


Holiday Decorating Ideas

Decorating doesn’t have to be overly fancy, or extravagant. These great holiday decorating ideas use common items to pull together beautiful pieces that are sure to dress up the outside of your home.

  1. Birdbath embellishment - drain any freestanding water from the birdbath and layer the bottom with pine boughs. Place a large glass gazing ball in the center and then fill the remaining space with pine cones, holly berries, and/or ribbon bows. For extra flair choose a color such as a fuschia or purple gazing ball and pair it with silver or gold accents.
  2. Container arrangements - take your favorite large planters (be cautious of concrete or terracotta pots as they can crack in extreme cold) and fill them with an arrangement of fir boughs, holly berries, eucalyptus, and cardinal dogwood spikes. The dogwood spikes add drama and height, plus a pop of red. Place containers on heavy-duty rolling plant caddies to make them easy to move.
  3. Sled display - lean a vintage, wooden sled against the deck railing on your front porch or the siding in the doorway and decorate it with greenery, pine cones, bows, and holiday ornaments. You can even add some fake spray-on snow to complete the look.
  4. Winter window box - since your window boxes are empty for the season, plant them with dwarf conifers and other cold hardy evergreens, draping boxwood or arborvitae clippings over the sides to create a trailing effect. Then add white lights and simple metal decoration for a finishing touch. If you don’t have window boxes, you can mount railing planter brackets and use them to support planted containers.
  5. Sparkling hanging baskets - take coiled vine hanging baskets, remove the coconut coir liner and wrap sets of battery powered light strands inside the basket. Push the bulbs through the openings between the coils so they are visible on the outside. Then add ornaments or pine cones as filler and hang where you’d normally have hanging baskets during the warmer season.
  6. Cranberry luminaries - fill shorter, stocky glass vases with a layer of fake snow in the bottom, and then add a layer of fake or real cranberries (skip the real ones if you have problems with pesky critters). Nestle a pillar candle in the center of the vase and set on the railing of your balcony or porch or along the walkway leading to the entrance of your home. If you’d rather skip using and lighting real candles, the flame-less, flickering candles are a great option to use in these luminaries instead. 
  7. “Burning Bush” - after your planter boxes or raised beds are done for the season remove spent plants and lay coiled Christmas lights on top of the potting soil -- this is actually a great way to make use of those tangled up lights you’re about to throw away in frustration. Then insert dried branches, filling the planter to create a bush-like appearance.


No matter if you get a jump start on holiday decorating, or wait until closer to December to start adorning your home, it’s never too early to start thinking about new ideas for the festive season. These decorating tips and ideas are sure to make your home look stunning for the holidays.

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