Outdoor Christmas light ideas: 23 enchanting ways to illuminate your plot this winter

These beautiful outdoor Christmas light ideas will make your garden sparkle for the festive season

outdoor Christmas light ideas
(Image credit: Lights4fun)

There are lots of enchanting outdoor Christmas light ideas to choose from to bring a magical touch to your yard. It's a simple way to brighten your spirits and those dark winter nights, whatever the shape, size and style of your home and garden.

So, when planning your outdoor Christmas decor this year, exterior lighting should definitely make the list for that all-important wow factor. It could be a case of swathing a patio with mix and match string lights, illuminating paths with eye-catching flower stakes, using groups of shimmering stars to lift the darkest corners, or going all out with a spectacularly lit tree. 

Of course, there are also mesmerizing projectors, app-controlled color-changing fairy lights, and reliable tea lights and lanterns to experiment with too. The possibilities are almost endless.

23 outdoor Christmas light ideas to glow up your garden this holiday season

With our edit of ideas for outdoor Christmas lights, you're bound to find plenty of inspiration for your perfect set-up.

1. Create a magical welcome

exterior of a house lit up for Christmas

This scene uses string lights from Dobbies

(Image credit: Dobbies)

Transport guests into a magical wonderland by adorning different types of Christmas trees in twinkling lights. 

Use them to decorate both indoors and out. For instance, consider framing the outside of a glazed doorway or large window with a pair of potted fir or pine trees, dressed with glowing 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, outdoor-suitable candles add an inviting flicker and will complete the Christmassy scene. 

2. Light up your garden building

Christmas lights in gazebo

Dress a gazebo to impress in time for the holidays

(Image credit: Rolf Hicker Photography/Alamy Stock Photo)

Have you perused our gazebo ideas yet? These chic garden buildings present the perfect opportunity for creating your very own cozy Christmas grotto.

This structure has been adorned with glittering icicle lights, while string lights suspended inside the roof only elevate the magical atmosphere. Illuminating the nearby hedges and potted trees extends the theme further, adding to the enticing vibe.

We love the oversized baubles which make a beautiful focal point, too. With a few cozy throws, it's the ideal set-up for a festive alfresco get-together. But, the scene will also look beautiful even if you're simply admiring it from a window indoors.

3. Fix icicle lights to your windows

icicle lights from lights4fun

Icicle lights from Lights4fun are simple yet chic

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

As well as using them to pep up gutters and the perimeter of roofs, icicle lights look beautiful when swagged above a window.

Opt for delicate designs on a white cable for a winter-wonderland vibe that can be enjoyed from both indoors and out. To attach them, you can simply use adhesive decorating clips, although there are more tips on how to put Christmas lights on a house in our guide.

4. Turn heads with a statement wreath

glowing Christmas wreath on porch

This oversized style is a real show-stopper

(Image credit: Steve Smith/Getty Images)

First impressions count, which is why it's worth giving your Christmas porch decor some careful consideration. And one of the best ways to welcome guests in style is with a beautiful wreath.

From pared-back, foliage-filled designs to bold and colorful styles, there are so many Christmas wreaths to choose from. But to really turn heads, opt for a light-up one that looks just as magical by night as it does by day. 

And they don't strictly have to decorate your door – why not go for a supersized design and attach it to an exterior wall instead?

5. Pep up a planter with star lights

star stake lights from lights4fun

Give your containers a warm glow with the star garden stake lights from Lights4fun

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

There are plenty of winter planter ideas to try. But, if you're looking for a simple and low-maintenance alternative to flowers and foliage, try recreating this scene. It's also a great way to add interest to the top of a bulb lasagne before the blooms come out for their springtime show.

Illuminated by warm white LEDs, they add a modern touch and look lovely in a cluster.

6. Illuminate the trees

trees lit up with colourful lights for Christmas

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

Simple but dramatic, Christmas light ideas for outdoor trees are a great way to bring your outside space to life.

Tailor the look to suit your personality – cool white-blue tones will create an icy, wintry feel that can look especially effective on pale barked beauties such as Himalayan 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 an app-controlled design. Controlled remotely, they will have your guests and family gazing in wonder.

7. Keep it sweet with glowing candy canes

candy cane lights from lights4fun

The candy cane lights from Light4fun are sure to delight any onlooker

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

Both kids and grown-ups are sure to love the fairytale look of this outdoor Christmas lighting. They're glittery for extra wow factor, and come with a handy timer, too.

Pop them along a path to your front door and you'll always have a warm welcome when you return home. It's a perfect look if you want to up the playful factor of your decorating scheme this year, and a must if you're thinking of creating a Santa's grotto in your yard too. 

8. Light up the borders

Christmas lights in the border of a garden

These pretty allium lit stakes are from Sarah Raven

(Image credit: Jonathan Buckley/Sarah Raven)

Starry lit flower stakes look stunning dotted alongside garden paths 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.

9. Deck the doorstep 

snowflake images projected onto a doorstep

Try something a little different with the Snowflake LED projector from Homebase

(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 a discreet motion projector takes it to another level. 

Falling snowflakes or twinkling stars 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.

10. Add Scandinavian charm to your home's entrance

hanging star Christmas lights from lights4fun

These lights from Lights4fun create a picture-perfect entranceway

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

Add extra charm to the front of your home this season 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 hanging 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. 

11. Layer your lights

cox & cox christmas outdoor decor with campervan

This scene from Cox & Cox is nothing short of magical

(Image credit: Cox & Cox)

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 color and tone and think carefully about the different areas that need lighting. And remember, 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. 

You could use existing lighting as a base – whether its your pick of the best outdoor wall lights or a single pendant. You can even change the bulbs if necessary, for a softer or warmer welcome. Next, add string lights to outline windows, porches and eaves, then use battery-powered outdoor, fairy lights to outline potted trees, plants, wreaths, and winter hanging baskets.

A cozy firepit will add even more enchanting light to the scene. Be sure to add plenty of comfy seating nearby to take in the view.

12. Show off topiary

topiary decorated with fairy lights for Christmas

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

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. 

A top tip is to 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 designs, be sure to neatly hide the wire and position the panel in a bright spot away from the feature. 

13. Make patios twinkle 

light up stars in a garden for Christmas

(Image credit: Not On The High Street)

For a contemporary take on lights for your winter patio, go for minimal but striking designs that are impossible to ignore. 

A group of simple, lit stars is the perfect way to bring some festive sparkle to a secluded corner, porch or outdoor tabletop. Use a trio of different sizes and arrange them regimentally in line or staggered in a natural cluster. 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. 

14. Give borders a boost

garden trees lit up for Christmas

A pretty, dual-color twinkling outdoor tree decoration from Not On The High Street

(Image credit: Not On The High Street)

Pep up your backyard 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 LED lights in a gentle mix of warm white and soft tones, it adds a beautiful elegance to the nighttime garden.

15. Brighten a gathering place

festoon lights over an outdoor dining area

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

Give your outdoor dining zone 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 tea lights.

Add one of the best fire pits and you can enjoy the space while keeping cozy too – it'll make the perfect backdrop for an alfresco Christmas party.

16. Guide the way with lights

Christmas lights along the edge of a path

(Image credit: Argos)

One of the most practical outdoor Christmas light ideas is to illuminate garden steps, pathways and driveways with a row of attention-grabbing 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 colored lights out there, but we love the simplicity of these spiral trees topped with stars.

17. Create a dazzling focal point

LED outdoor Christmas tree light idea

(Image credit: Graham & Green)

Transform an empty patio or lawn into a shimmering showpiece. 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 meters high, it's a great way to fill a vacant spot. Too big to add to your small garden? Then why not make your own mini version using a rounded wooden stake, metal camping pegs and a string of outdoor fairy lights instead? 

18. 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 outdoor Christmas light ideas. 

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 are clear acrylic tubes filled with vivid LEDS and they can be arranged exactly how you like to create a brilliant spectacle. What's more, you can choose between static and cascading settings. The finished results are breath-taking.

19. Dazzle by mixing string lights 

strings of outdoor Christmas lights in a garden

Layer the 100 Star party lights from Homebase with other styles for an impressive effect

(Image credit: Homebase)

Not just for summer garden parties, festoons of fairy lights strung across a patio can add an uplifting festive vibe too. 

Up the interest by mixing different shapes, colors and scales of fairy lights. Strings of chunky festoon bulbs can look spectacular alongside lines of dainty stars and smaller multi-colored 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. 

20. Light up a snowy scene

front porch decorated with quirky Christmas lights

We love these charming designs from Lights4fun

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

Delight onlookers by creating a heart-warming festive scene in the corner of your patio, or under a gazebo or favorite 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, a basket of holly, and a wooden sledge will all help build the scene. Add a final dusting of artificial snow then plug in and set the characters' built-in timer and you can sit back and enjoy.

21. Add sensational starbursts

starburst style outdoor Christmas lights

These gorgeous outdoor Christmas lights are from a selection at Crocus

(Image credit: Crocus)

Simple but 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 in a gazebo. 

Our favorite 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.

22. Guide the way through a gate

stone wall and archway lit up by fairy lights

This birch garland with lights is 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

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, step back, and admire.

23. Create a whimsical scene with light-up toadstools

outdoor mushroom lights from Crocus

Children and adults alike will love these acrylic mushroom lights from Crocus

(Image credit: Crocus)

Raising a smile is always important when it comes to your outdoor Christmas light ideas, and what could do 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 or artificial snow and pop the scene next to the front door or a window where it can work its joyous magic.

What are the best outdoor Christmas light ideas to try?

The best outdoor Christmas lights will really depend on the type of decoration scheme you want to go for.

'If it's a classic display you're after, we recommend warm white lighting to set the scene outdoors,' says the team at Lights4fun. 'Outdoor micro lights always go down a treat at Christmas time and they are versatile in their styling. Wrap them around trees, add a glow to your ivy, or even style them on trellises to make your home the ultimate showstopper this Christmas.'

Looking for something a little more novel? 'Light up reindeer figures are trending this year and are the seasonal statement piece everyone wants,' continues the team. 'From striking large stags to cute little fawns, they can be styled together to create a heart-warming display to be enjoyed throughout the Christmas period.

'Fun festive figures are also a great way to introduce a touch of charm to your outside space,' the add. 'Our range of cheery Christmas characters are ideal if you have little ones at home and whether they love dogs, cats or bunnies there is something for every type of animal lover.'

Christmas lights from John Lewis

This light-up reindeer from John Lewis adds plenty of charm

(Image credit: John Lewis)
Jill Morgan
Freelance writer

Jill puts her love of plants and all things garden related down to the hours spent pottering around with her Nan and Grandad when she was little. Today she is lucky enough to have a garden of her own in Surrey, England, and spends much of her time writing about them too.