Decorating with Christmas lights – ideas and arrangements to add festive sparkle

Lighting plays a key role in Christmas decorating, adding a touch of festive sparkle around the home with ease

Christmas lights are key for adding a touch of extra sparkle to festive proceedings. From twinkling LED lights on the tree to larger teardrop bulbs illuminating the porch, the right lighting plays such an integral role in setting the scene for Christmas cheer.

If you're looking for creative ways to decorate with lights we have some show stopping Christmas ideas to light up your home with festive delight. Be inspired by our simple but effective decorative ideas for festive lights and look forward to a magical season all lit up in chic style.

Decorating with Christmas lights

With so many designs to choose from, firstly consider how you wish to use lighting to enhance your home over the festive period? If you're looking to create an ambient glow choose the warmer copper coloured LED lights that seem to more popular than ever in lighting collections - in stark contrast to the cooler tones of white bulbs from previous years. Fairy lights are so versatile, perfect to dress the tree or drape across a mantelpiece.

For creating a statement try industrial inspired light-up letters that spell out seasonal greetings and illuminated signs. If you're simply looking to outshine the neighbours opt for a statuesque illuminated reindeer or a set of beaming cluster lights. Indoor or out, be inspired by our pick of creative Christmas light ideas to brighten up your home.

1. Brighten up hallways for a warm welcome

Hallway coat hooks decorated with ivy and fairy lights

(Image credit: Future PLC/Chris Snook)

A simple string of fair lights draped across a hall coat rack is an effective way to dress the hallway with a touch of sparkle. It's amazing how impactful simple fairy lights can be, inviting a warm glow with very little effort. Choose a clear or white string to allow the lights to blend in, the last thing you want is to ruin the look with a standout green wire dangling from rack.

Follow in the footsteps of this homeowner and intertwine the lights with sprigs of ivy to add an extra flourish of styling.

2. Hang an illuminated wreath

Starburst LED Christmas wreath

(Image credit: Annabel James)

Invite a halo-style glow to adorn any wall in your home with an LED illuminated wreath design. This mains powered wreath is composed of 270 warm white LED lights to give your indoor rooms a warming glow. Ideal above the mantelpiece or above a drinks trolley to set the scene for entertaining in style.

Buy now: Starburst LED Christmas Wreath, £49.95, Annabel James

3. Coordinate tree to fireplace

Dining room with Christmas decorations, table and chairs and lit fireplace

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Create a symmetry with your lighting. Use the same colour and tone of lights throughout a living room decorating scheme to ensure it feels cohesive and soft, rather than jarring and distracting. Keep it simple, like this example, and still set the scene in style with a soft glow with matching lights. Choose warm white or amber to suit the ambience if you have a real fire, avoid cold white lights.

4. Dress the windows

Window with Christmas lights

(Image credit: Lights4Fun/Oliver Perrott)

Perfectly dressed Christmas window ideas are are treat for all, those inside and those who walk by. Frame the window pane with a set specially designed to fit the window, cascading down the window to fill the view with light and festive motifs.

This fine example features 258 warm white LEDs, including 9 metal stars hung at differing heights across the row of lights. Set on a 6 hour timer means you can set the switch to ensure the stars sparkle each evening.

Buy now: Osby Star Christmas Window light, £32.99, Light4fun

5. Spell it out above the mantel

Quirky Christmas living room with decorated fireplace and patterned rug

(Image credit: TBC)

Letters and festive sentiments are very on-trend for spreading Christmas cheer with punch of personality. In this characterful living room the light up Noel dresses the mantelpiece to perfection, alongside a string of colourful pompoms and real eucalyptus sprigs.

6. Set the table with lights

Christmas dining table in red and amber tones

(Image credit: Future PLC/Max Attenborough)

Welcome an ambient glow to dinner for a more intimate approach to setting the table. Seek LED lights to place on the table, whether used to drape down the middle as a runner of lights or used to frame each individual plate fairy lights on the table will welcome a warm glow to proceedings.

7. Dress the stairs with faux candlelight

Christmas decorated hallway with garland on bannister and faux candles up the stairs

(Image credit: Lights4Fun/Oliver Perrott)

Make a fabulous festive first impression by dressing the stairs and hallway with bountiful garland dressed with twinkling lights and a display of candles. Of course we're not advocating you place real candles on the stairs, not safe at all! Look for thoroughly realistic looking faux flames that can be left safely to light up the hallway with ease.

Trail an assortment of lights, by way of LED pillar candles, from the top to the bottom of the stairs. Not only will this add visual impact for quests on arrival, it will also offer a soft glow to make navigating the stairs a little easier, after dark – and even after a few too many glasses of fizz.

8. Get creative with walls

DIY paper Christmas tree mounted on wall with with star light

(Image credit: Lights4Fun/Oliver Perrott)

Get creative to curate a display for your walls with a light up star, simple string of fairy lights and Christmas cards or festive music sheets or illustrations – the artistic licence is yours. Choose lights on a thin wire, so they are almost weightless and stick them to the pieces of paper or card used to create your DIY tree shape. Of course you could make any festive motif, but a tree is the easiest to recreate.

Use a white tack or something similar to stick the walls, ensuring the paint underneath is not ruined by the material used to stick everything in place. You'll need to arrange the display above a sideboard or mantel, to ensure there's a ledge below so you can pop the battery pack of the lights on top.

9. Add ambience to guest bedrooms

Navy bedroom dressed for Christmas with fairy lights and stocking on bed frame

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dan Duchars)

Ensure your guest bedrooms are well-dressed for Christmas guests. In addition to Christmas bedding and stockings at the foot of the bed, a Simple row of battery powered LED lights woven around the headboard goes a long way to make the room look instantly more festive and inviting.

10. Suspend lights overhead

Dining room with green paneled walls and Christmas dining table in green

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

A hugely popular trend for tablescaping right now is to hang a decorative arrangement over the table, as if floating above. Of course this needs to be securely in place, because the last thing you want is for it to gatecrash on top while serving dinner! Simple hooks on twine from the ceiling above should support a lightweight foliage arrangement.

Add the wow factor to the hanging arrangement by suspending LED candles at staggered heights along the length of the table.

11. Light up your mantel

Mantelpiece with tinsel, Christmas letters and lights

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Scarboro)

Make a statement with large letters that spell out a festive message, which will look right at home placed on a mantelpiece or used as a table centre for the big day’s feast. Decorate your seasonal sign with fairy lights and fresh foliage for added drama.

12. Create a striking winter scene

Christmas display with winter scene and Christmas lights

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Bevan)

Create the perfect winter wonderland in your home with pretty tea light holders shaped like houses. Placed on a side table they create a charming miniature town, lit by tea lights. A few well-placed miniature Christmas trees add to the snowy scene. Alternatively, wrap a simple string of white fairy lights to complete the look.

13. Add elegant candelabras

Dining room with decorated table and Christmas tree

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

Dress the dinner table with elegant candle sticks, to support coloured tapered candles. Use the colour to add an accent shade to a more paired back decorating scheme.

Take a palette of icy whites, forest greens and woodland browns, add cosy Nordic accents and a sprinkling of Narnia for a bewitching festive scene to greet your guests come Christmas Day.

14. Warm with candlelight on a mantel

Hallway table with Christmas decorations and candles

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

Welcome guests into your home with a golden Christmas light display. An exotic stained black console table is filled with warmth and opulence using scented orange and cinnamon candles set alight in burnished and bronzed lanterns.

Complete the look with decorative luxe mini trees and pine cone garlands dotted with dainty, shimmering stars. Always be sure to use candles in a safe environment – never leave them unattended.

15. Take it outside

Privet hedge with rattan star lights

(Image credit: Future PLC/Ben Anders)

Show guests the way to your Christmas party with decorative outdoor Christmas lights. Here, three faux rattan stars make an eye-catching contrast against the leafy hedge, while a rope of mains-powered outdoor fairy lights entices people through the arch.

Use fairy lights as uplighters rather than all-over decorations to subtly draw attention to key features in your garden.

16. Brighten up a corner

Beige armchair in front of a window with Christmas decorations and Christmas lights on the floor

(Image credit: Tim Young)

Even in a simple scheme, lights can be added to bring some festive cheer to the room. Throw light into a dark corner by adding a simple lighting feature with fairy lights and a plain, twig tree. Line a windowsill with a selection of pretty tea lights to add extra shimmer and shine.

17. Light the whole room

Living room with sofa and cushions, candles and Christmas lights

(Image credit: Future PLC/Paul Raeside)

Atmospheric lighting makes all the difference to the ambience of a room. Here, fairy lights have been strung over a twig tree in a large planter to eye-catching effect and entwined with faux garlands to decorate a sideboard. Both are complemented by the flickering candlelight in the foreground and a candle wreath hung low over the dining table.

18. Create your own fairy light covers

Mantelpiece with tinsel and lights made from paper cups

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Give your fairy lights a festive makeover by creating simple DIY covers, made from basic paper cups. Whether you decide to drape them across a mantelpiece or hang them on your bed frame, these little lampshades will add a sense of fun to your space in next to no time.

Simply paper over a plastic cup with your favourite wallpaper, then apply a small amount of glue to the back of each cup and carefully stick through each cup. Place each cup upside down on a flat surface and draw a small cross in the middle of the base. Carefully cut through this cross using a craft knife and gently push the light into each hole. Use LED lights to ensure they don't overheat.

What makes a good Christmas light display?

Ensure guests receive a warm welcome to your home this Christmas by choosing a mix of lighting. From the traditional fairy lights, to LED options in both static and eye-catching flickering settings, and icicles that can hang from mantelpieces and windows, the ways in which you light your home this Christmas can really bring the festive season to life.

Don't forget outdoor spaces either, as there are plenty of choices available, from fun reindeer or Santa designs that kids will love, to more subtle wreaths and lanterns.

'As the days turn colder and the evenings get darker, introduce the magic of Christmas by creating a show-stopping display at home!' advise  'Our top tip to creating the ultimate ‘wow-factor’ is by illuminating the varying levels of your home. Wrap lights around trees to bring a sparkle up above. Entwine micro lights around bushes and shrubbery to create a classic sparkle lower down.'

'Create a cosy display by popping lights in your windows to welcome a warm glow, shining from the inside out. Star lights bring a classic Christmas touch throughout your home and can be placed both inside and outside your house.'

You're either a colour light fan or you're not. But there's a colour to suit all Christmas tastes.

'Warm white is the most popular lighting colour to create a cosy and inviting ambience in your home' say  'Create a classic display by pairing with your current Christmas lights in your home and garden, for a seamless glow that keeps you cosy on those cold Christmas nights.'

'Alternatively, to create the ultimate winter wonderland in your home, opt for icy white Christmas lights and embrace the magical nostalgia of a wonderful white Christmas.'


Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.