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The Home Depot

Ultimate Outdoor Christmas Decorating Guide

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Seasonal > Ultimate Outdoor Christmas Decorating Guide
Ultimate Outdoor Christmas Decorating Guide

When it’s time to usher in the festivities of the season, outdoor Christmas decorating can be the perfect place to start. What could be more festive that decking the halls on the outside of your house and throughout your yard? You can share your holiday spirit with everyone who passes your home.


Of course, as you’re stringing and hanging lights and trimming the outside of your house, a focus on safety is important. The Texas Department of Insurance provides readers with important information and tips about using outdoor decorations safely. The biggest concern is the potentially lethal combination of electricity and moisture.


With an ultimate outdoor Christmas decorating guide, you can get busy creating a joyful and merry holiday display around your home that is both safe and beautiful.

  1. 1.Pick a Theme

    Pick a Theme

    Holiday themes abound so pick the perfect one for your outdoor display. Consider a Nutcracker, snowman, angelic, crèche or snowflake theme and then get busy. Once you have selected a theme, find as many different outdoor decorations that fit the theme. For example, if you decide to create an angelic display, angels will be the name of the game. Find as many different types of angels, angelic lighting and heavenly decorations to deck your landscape. If you decide to go the more traditional route, you might create a crèche scene in your yard, complete with a rustic stable, figures of Joseph and Mary and a manger holding a baby. Don’t forget the animals and the wise men, too.

  2. 2.Front Door

    Front Door

    A wreath on the door is standard fare during the holiday season. Wreaths can be traditional evergreen boughs, berries and ribbons or they might take on a different flair. Try one large wreath or even a grouping of three smaller ones in a vertical line on the front door. Once you’ve got the wreath decor front and center on the door, take it one step further with garland and ribbons festooning the doorway. Twinkling lights intermingled with the garland will make it pop, visible both day and night.

  3. 3.Mailbox


    Your mailbox often sits at the front and center of your house, near your driveway or near your front door, making it the ideal place to add some holiday cheer. If your mailbox sits on a post, wrap the post with garland and drape more boughs over the top of the mailbox. Don’t forget a cheery red bow to finish the effect. If your mailbox attaches to your house or porch, try a merry sprig of berries, cedar and ribbon, attached to the mailbox with wire. Add a few pinecones in for more wintry effect.

  5. 4.Porches and Entryways

    Porches and Entryways

    The entryway to your home deserves the full holiday treatment. Columns flanking an entryway or porch beg for the garland treatment, wrapping them snugly in evergreen boughs and ribbons. Add some lights to finish the effect. Switch out your everyday doormat for a holiday mat or rug in festive colors or patterns. Try pots of evergreens, ivy or poinsettias at the doorway. Illuminated lanterns lining a porch or entryway would also add holiday cheer. If you have outdoor furniture sitting on porches, don’t overlook this ideal spot for a little extra Christmas cheer. Evergreen boughs draped along the backs of Adirondack chairs, trimmed with red ribbons, would display your holiday spirit.

  6. 5.Windows


    The windows of your home afford ample opportunities for décor – both from the inside and the outside. Starting on the inside, consider a single battery-operated candle sitting in each window to add a simple illumination throughout your entire home during the nighttime hours. During the day, hanging ornaments from festive ribbons from the tops of windows will add a cherry touch to your home’s appearance. From the exterior, lights hung around or from the tops of each window are the obvious choice for your home’s décor.

  7. 6.Outdoor Lighting

    When you decide to add outdoor lighting to your home, approach this project in an organized fashion. Before doing anything, walk around your home’s landscape to determine what you want to illuminate and how you want to do it.


    Common places to add outdoor lighting include the roofline of your home and garage, along eaves, on windows, around pillars and outlining doorways. You might want to add lights to trees and shrubs, along pathways and driveways and sprinkled liberally around focal points in your landscape.

    Outdoor Lighting  

    As you consider lighting installation, get out your tape measure and measure the entire distance you want to cover with strings of lights. Don’t forget to add the distance between the objects you want to illuminate and the outdoor outlets.


    The basic rule of thumb for illuminating trees and shrubs is to plan for 100 lights for every 1.5 feet of shrub or tree. This means that a 6-foot-tall tree will require a minimum of 400 lights to make it twinkle adequately.


    Always buy lights rated for outdoor use to eliminate risk of fire from the inevitable outdoor moisture. You will simplify your installation task if you purchase lights with nontwist sockets so you can replace bulbs quickly and easily. Purchasing the same brand and type of bulbs also makes it a simple job to connect multiple strings together.


    Choose between incandescent and LED lights for the outside of your home. Incandescent bulbs are less expensive, coming in a variety of shapes and sizes. LED lights are more expensive, but they are unbreakable and they are more efficient than incandescent bulbs. Don’t forget to buy outdoor extension cords and special hooks and clamps to attach the lights to the house.


    The installation process will be easier with a helper. Work during the day, when it’s not raining or snowing. Plug in every strand of lights first before stringing to test each strand. The maximum number of strands to connect is three to avoid overloading the connection.


    Although outdoor decorating takes time, it’s an enjoyable investment once you see how beautiful your home will look when you finish. After the initial planning and installation, the work will be easier for each successive year because you’ve already finished the planning.

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