Outdoor Christmas lights ideas: 18 enchanting ways to light up your home this winter

Make your home and garden sparkle with these beautiful outdoor Christmas lights ideas for the festive season

outdoor Christmas lights ideas
(Image credit: Lights4Fun)

Add a magical touch to your home with these enchanting outdoor Christmas lights ideas. Whatever the shape, size and style of your home and outside space there are new and clever lighting tricks to brighten your spirits and those dark winter nights. Discover not just the latest designs ideas but find out how best to use them to bring a festive touch to your night-time garden. 

It could be swathing a patio with festoons of mix and match light strings, lighting paths with eye-catching flower stakes, using groups of shimmering stars to lift the darkest corners or going all out with a spectacular showstopping lit tree. Of course, there are also mesmerising projectors, app-controlled colour-changing fairy lights and good-old tealights and lanterns to experiment with too, so why wait any longer – light up your outdoor space now.

Keep scrolling to find your perfect setup, then make sure you check out our garden lighting ideas feature for brilliant ways to illuminate your space throughout the year. 

1. Light up the borders

Christmas lights in the border of a garden

Allium lit stakes from Sarah Raven

(Image credit: Jonathan Buckley/Sarah Raven)

Starry lit flower stakes look stunning dotted alongside pathways and borders and the latest designs are truly spectacular. With light and airy stems that disperse into glistening bursts of gold, they brighten up the surrounding area casting a soft and magical glow. Use them as a trio or en masse for a sensational effect.

2. Create a magical welcome

exterior of a house lit up for Christmas

Basic string lights from Dobbies

(Image credit: Dobbies)

Transport guests into a magical wonderland by using twinkling Christmas trees both inside and out – find out how to grow your own Christmas tree in our guide. Frame the outside of a glazed doorway or large window with a pair of potted fir or pine trees adorned with the best outdoor lights, including all-white fairy lights and groups of flickering lanterns. Continue the magic inside with a third tree decorated with identical fairy lights and swags of greenery around the window’s edge. Carriage lanterns with battery-powered candles add an inviting flicker and complete the Christmassy scene. 

3. Deck the doorstep 

snowflake images projected onto a doorstep

(Image credit: Homebase)

Guarantee guests a truly festive welcome by lighting up your doorstep. A group of flickering lanterns or a small lit tree will all do the job nicely but light cast from discreet motion projector takes it to another level. Falling snowflakes, twinkling stars all create a spell-binding winter wonderland touch and couldn’t be easier to conjure up. Simply hang the compact projector – often disguised as a decorative lantern – plug into the mains and watch the magic happen.

4. Try some Scandi charm

exterior of house decorated with Scandi style Christmas lights

(Image credit: Lights4Fun)

Introduce some charming front porch ideas by staging a Scandi-inspired winter scene. Look for an area that can be seen clearly from inside the house and think about how you can accentuate its key features. A low-overhanging roof is the perfect spot for a row of simple star lights while a pretty, multi-paned window could shimmer with the glow of battery-powered candles or lanterns. Dress the area in front of the main feature too to layer up the interest. Moving a garden bench or potting table beneath a window could create a spot for another group of lanterns or pots of pale flowering Hellebores. You can find out how to grow Hellebores in our guide. 

5. Layer your lights

front of house decorated with pretty Christmas lights

(Image credit: Homebase)

Just like inside your home, layering different types of lighting outside is the secret to creating a stunning, rather than chaotic, effect. Stick to one colour and tone and think carefully about the different areas that need lighting. 

It’s often more dramatic to focus on lighting one key area such as a front entrance or gateway rather than dotting fairy lights randomly. Use existing lighting as a base – these could be the best  outdoor wall lights or a single pendant and change the bulbs if necessary, for a softer or warmer welcome. Next add string lights to outline windows, porches and eaves, then use battery fairy lights to outline potted trees, plants, wreaths and winter hanging baskets

Head over to our guide on how to make a Christmas wreath using foliage from your garden to give your front door a unique look this festive season. 

6. Show off topiary

topiary decorated with fairy lights for Christmas

(Image credit: Lifghts4Fun)

Highlighting interesting plant shapes with plain white fairy lights is simple but oh-so effective, especially when they are arranged symmetrically in pairs framing a doorway, gateway or lined up along a path or terrace. Clipped box, bay and privet spheres, cones and standard or cloud pruned trees work particularly well as you can use the lights to outline the distinct shapes. Always stick to the same tone of light – either cool blue/white or warm gold/white for a smart, cohesive look and be sure to tuck the battery pack discreetly into the foliage, or if using solar powered, be sure to neatly hide the wire and position the panel in a bright spot away from the feature. 

7. Make patios twinkle 

light up stars in a garden for Christmas

Twinkling outdoor star light from Not On The High Street

(Image credit: Not On The High Street)

For a contemporary take on Christmas patio ideas, go for minimal but striking designs that are impossible to ignore for. A group of simple lit stars is the perfect way to bring some festive sparkle to a secluded corner, porch or outdoor tabletop. Choose from three different sizes and arrange them regimentally in line or staggered as a trio. With wire frames wrapped in tiny warm white LEDs they create a particularly delicate look and can be set to be still or subtly twinkle. 

8. Illuminate the trees

trees lit up with colourful lights for Christmas

(Image credit: Lights4Fun)

Show off skeletal tree shapes with different coloured fairy lights. Simple but dramatic it’s a great way to bring your outside space alive with colour and drama. Tailor the look to suit your personality – cool white/blue tones will create an icy, wintery feel that can look especially effective on pale barked beauties such as Himalayan and Silver Birch. For a more vibrant look try mixing hot tones such as red, pink and warm white. Feel like really showing off? Then have fun with Lights4Fun’s Twinkly Smart App controlled Multi Coloured String lights. Controlled remotely or via Google Assistant and Alexa they will have your guests and family gazing in wonder.

9. Give borders a boost

garden trees lit up for Christmas

(Image credit: Not On The High Street)

Pep up a border and create a twinkling pocket of light with some of the latest pre-lit tree designs. Pared back in style with branches bejewelled in lights they look stunning popped into a winter border, amongst skeletal shrubs and ornamental grasses. We love this eye-catching design – with 80 tiny ball LED lights in a gentle mix of warm white and soft tones it adds a beautiful, elegance to the night-time garden.

10. Brighten a gathering place

festoon lights over an outdoor dining area

Festoon classic lights from Garden Trading

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

Give your outdoor dining ideas a festive makeover with some stylish festoon light ideas and pretty lanterns. Weave clear white festoon lights through overhanging climbers, branches or even a pergola so they cast pools of light on the table below. A group of clear glass lanterns, hurricane lamps or even simple or fluted jam jars look stunning clustered together and filled with flickering tealights. Love the idea of introducing a pergola into your outside space? Head over to our pergola ideas feature for more inspiration. 

11. Guide the way with lights

Christmas lights along the edge of a path

(Image credit: Argos)

One of the best garden path ideas for Christmas is to light up steps, pathways and driveways with a row of attention-grabbing Christmas stake lights. Usually sold as sets of three or four pre-wired units, these designs are mains powered and come ready to be pushed into the ground at regular intervals. Simple to arrange you can easily use several sets to stretch the entire length of your pathway. There are many different festive shapes and coloured lights out there, but we love the simplicity and cheekiness of these spiral trees topped with stars.

12. Create a dazzling focal point

LED outdoor Christmas tree light idea

LED outdoor tree light from Graham & Green

(Image credit: Graham & Green)

Transform an empty patio or lawn into a shimmering showpiece by creating the chic-ist of Christmas trees. Featuring strings of golden fairy lights and topped with a radiant star this beauty is sure to shine bright throughout the festive season. Supported by a central pole standing over two metres high, it’s a great way to fill a vacant spot. Too big for your small garden ideas? Then why not make your own mini version using a rounded wooden stake, metal camping pegs and a 5m string of outdoor fairy lights instead? 

13. Decorate with snow and sparkles

icicle style outdoor Christmas lights

(Image credit: B&Q)

A mature, standalone tree is the perfect opportunity to go to town with Christmas lights. Rather than swamping it with a mass of fairy lights why not be bold and go for dramatic lit icicles instead. Go for either a string of fairy lights with dangling strands that create an icicle effect or look for individual ‘icicles’. The designs pictured above from B&Q are clear acrylic tubes filled with vivid LEDS and they can be arranged exactly how you like to create a brilliant spectacle. Choose between static and cascading settings.

14. Dazzle by mixing string lights 

strings of outdoor Christmas lights in a garden

100 Star party lights from Homebase

(Image credit: Homebase)

Not just for summer garden party ideas, festoons of fairy lights strung across a patio can add an uplifting festive vibe too. Up the interest by mixing different shapes, colours and scales of fairy lights. Strings of chunky festoon bulbs can look spectacular alongside lines of dainty stars and smaller multi-coloured LEDs and together they cast a surprising amount of bright light. Run light strings parallel and let them rise and fall at the same points for a neat and professional finish. 

15. Light up a snowy scene

front porch decorated with quirky Christmas lights

(Image credit: Lights4Fun)

Bring on the ‘aaaahh’ factor by creating a heart-warming festive scene in the corner of your patio, under a gazebo or favourite tree. Fall in love with one or a group of illuminated characters – for us it was a close call between this duck family or an adorable bobble-hat wearing Daschund – and nestle them in place. A potted Christmas tree – decorated with lights, a pile of logs, basket of holly, a wooden sledge will all help build the scene. Add a final dusting of artificial snow, plug-in and set the character’s built-in timer and you can sit back and enjoy.

16. Add sensational starbursts

starburst style outdoor Christmas lights

(Image credit: Crocus)

Simple but oh-so effective – firework lights are brilliant for highlighting garden features with delicate clusters of light. Made up of fine wire LED lit strands radiating from a central point, these versatile designs look stunning hung from archways, beneath pergolas or a gazebo. Our favourite, and perhaps the easiest way to display them is to pop them between the bare branches of a prominently placed tree or shrub. The bursts of tiny white lights create a magical effect and give a sense of depth and form to the darkness.

17. Guide the way

stone wall and archway lit up by fairy lights

Birch garland with lights from Sarah Raven

(Image credit: Jonathan Buckley/Sarah Raven)

Pre-lit branches and garlands are a beautiful, quick and easy way to highlight arches or add an extra flourish to your garden gate ideas. Made from clusters of tiny LEDs woven into a wire form they can be gently bent into shape to suit your setting. You will need to fix them in place, but the result is stunning, especially when woven into existing greenery and climbers. Battery powered with a built-in timer just pop them in place, sit back and admire.

18. Spread joy and be quirky

quirky outdoor mushroom lights

(Image credit: Crocus)

Raising a smile and having a sense of fun is more important than ever this year, and what could say it better than a lit tabletop display. Choose some illuminated heart-lifting characters – it could be a group of cheery robins, polar bears or these jolly toadstools – and arrange on a side table or tall plant stand. Surround with moss, artificial snow or icy glass nodules and pop next to the front door or a window where they can work their joyous magic.

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