Outdoor Christmas lighting ideas to illuminate your garden

Give your garden a festive glow with these super-easy outdoor Christmas lighting ideas

Switching on the Christmas lights is the signal that the festive season is finally here. Whether you go big with full-on ‘Blackpool-style’ illuminations or keep it subtle with just a few twinkling fairy lights on the porch, decking your house and garden with lights is a wonderful way to make it look magical

Give the outside of your home a magical festive glow with our festive lighting ideas, for decorating outdoor trees, porches and more. From simple candle clusters to festoons of twinkling fairy lights lights can make an impact for all outdoor Christmas decor ideas.

Outdoor Christmas lighting ideas

‘Getting creative with Christmas lights has become a big thing,’ says Jason Billings-Gray, Christmas Buyer at John Lewis. ‘Often many months in the planning, the best of these lightfests become destinations in their own right - somewhere to visit when you’ve ticked Santa’s Grotto off the list!’

‘Most modern outdoor lighting uses LED bulbs which are super-efficient and long-lasting,’ adds Jason. ‘Strings and ropes of outdoor lights come supplied with a transformer that plugs into an indoor or outdoor socket so you can safely use them indoors and out.’

‘Smaller decorations such as wreaths and mini trees are battery-powered, making them suitable for sheltered locations only but still perfect for adding a little twinkle and festive cheer to a porch or doorway.’

1. Make an entrance

Outdoor Christmas lighting ideas with light up deer

(Image credit: John Lewis)

Go all-out with festive lighting to make the exterior of your house look magical. Festoon the porch with swags of twinkling fairy lights and floor-standing lanterns clustered in groups. Then get into the spirit of Christmas with a fun, statement piece. A majestic Stag stood proudly on the porch or a pair of deer nestled by the door will look suitably festive without being too kitsch.

‘Outdoor lights will add a warm welcome glow to any outdoor space but you can also use them to benefit your interior too, particularly rooms with big windows or glass doors,’ says Jason.

‘Large expanses of glass tend to turn into black holes by night, losing that wonderful sense of space enjoyed during the day. Lighting up the garden extends that view with a little extra magic from the sparkle.’

2. Light the way inside

Outdoor Christmas lighting ideas with pink door and wreath

(Image credit: Dunelm)

Set the scene with a thoughtful Christmas door decor idea. The entrance of the house is a key area to focus on, with the front door as your focal point. Hanging festoon lights above a porch or wiring twinkling fairy lights into greenery is a lovely way of framing a door and will make sure the area is fully visible at night.

Bring in extra floor-standing lights and lanterns clustered either side of the door to provide an extra layer of lighting at ground level, which will help you navigate safely inside on dark and frosty evenings. Put lights on timers so that they will go off automatically at a chosen time.

3. Make the door sparkle

Christmas wreath with lights mistletoe and pine cones hanging on red door

(Image credit: Future PLC/Rachel Whiting)

Upgrade a regular festive door wreath for a light-up version that will make the door look extra magical. Create a similar effect with an existing or DIY homemade Christmas wreath by wiring in your own set of micro lights.

Mini LED bulbs easily thread into the greenery so that the wreath will twinkle brightly after dark.Just tuck them into the greenery, making sure that none of the wire is visible, and hide the battery pack at the back.

4. Double up with festoon strings

wooden cabinet holding wrapped Christmas presents next to Christmas tree under hanging lights

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

Classic festoon lights are always a winner, either front of house or strung from trees in the back garden. For ease, attach lights around door frames, windows and guttering using adhesive hooks and gutter clips rather than drilling into brickwork and masonry.

For the best outdoor Christmas lights, choose between mains-powered (if you have an outdoor power supply or weatherproof extension lead) or battery-powered if you don’t have access to a power source and want to avoid trailing cables.

5. Try an all-in-one tree

Outdoor Christmas lighting ideas with outdoor potted tree

(Image credit: Cox & Cox)

Forget fiddly cables and invest in a pre-lit outdoor tree to save yourself the hassle of untangling lights and struggling with the spacing. Mini trees are perfectly-sized for a porch or look smart either side of a doorway and won’t obstruct the way in if space is tight.

Most mini pre-lit trees are battery operated and come with LED bulbs as standard. A timer function allows you to set the lights to come on at the same time each evening, usually for six hours.

6. Create a cosy social space outside

Outdoor Christmas lighting ideas with outdoor sofa and armchairs and fur throws

(Image credit: The White Company)

Outdoor gatherings were the norm last Christmas, so make sure your outdoor space is prepped this year with a cosily-lit seating area. Twinkling fairy lights wired into fir trees and greenery will provide a sociable background ambience.

Then bring in extra lanterns and candle votives for more focused lighting, positioned on table tops and at floor level to create a warm, inviting glow. Go one step further for festive entertaining by creating a Santa's Grotto in your garden – with lighting, decorations and fun games.

7. Illuminate an outdoor dining area

Outdoor Christmas lighting ideas with dining table and chairs and mirror

(Image credit: Cotswold Co)

Add extra sparkle when partying outdoors by positioning a large mirror to act as a backdrop. Outdoor mirrors help to bounce light around, so will reflect the glow from fairy lights and candle lanterns, doubling-up the effect and creating a relaxed and cosy atmosphere.

8. Light up trees and foliage

Outdoor Christmas lighting ideas with trees and fairy lights

(Image credit: Dobbies)

Bring the back garden to life so you have a magical view to look out over on dark winter evenings. Use lights to showcase garden buildings such as summerhouses, pergolas and arches or make a decorative feature of trees, shrubs and bushes.

Choose a tree that will create a natural focal point in your outdoor space, one with an interesting form or an elegant arrangement of branches. Use rope lights or fairy strings to wrap around the trunk of the tree, continuing onto the most prominent branches. Space strings evenly for a uniform look.

9. Give windows extra sparkle

Outdoor Christmas lighting ideas with trees and fairy lights

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

Co-ordinate indoor and outdoor lighting for a cohesive Christmas scheme. A set of window lights is a great way of supplementing exterior lighting, especially if you match the colouring for both, such as all warm white bulbs or all cool white.

Use window curtain lights for super-easy fixing. They can be attached to the interior window frame with trailing strings of lights that hang down to illuminate the window both indoors and out.

10. Lead the way with path lighting

Outdoor Christmas lighting ideas with garden stake light

(Image credit: Sparkle Lighting)

While outdoor lighting looks wonderfully festive at Christmas time, use it to serve a purpose by making sure pathways and steps are safely lit at night time.

Solar-powered lighting is the easiest option and won’t require any specialist installation. Try staking individual lights into the ground to illuminate a path or add directional spots to highlight key planting.

11. Create a DIY light installation

Outdoor Christmas lighting ideas with ladder and lights

(Image credit: Poundland)

Make an easy upcycled lighting feature for a front porch or sheltered area in the garden. Try repurposing an old stepladder or use a large twiggy branch from the garden if it’s large enough to decorate. Simply prop against a wall and coil sets of fairy lights around the rungs or branches.

12. Bring some festive magic

Outdoor Christmas lighting ideas with light up stag head

(Image credit: Poundland)

Give your outdoor space the ‘ahh’ factor with a few whimsical woodland figures dotted around garden pathways or nestled in amongst the greenery. Woven wirework animals and rattan figures pre-lit with fairy lights will add a rustic flavour and create a magical mood lit up in the garden after dark.

13. Light up potted bay trees by the front door

House exterior with red front door wreath and bay tree with fairy lights

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Use the foliage beside the front door to welcome a simple solution. Decorate a bay tree by your front door with simple fairy lights for a pretty front garden and a warm welcome.

How can I make my outdoor Christmas lights look professional?

'For a more contemporary approach to roof lighting, a super quick choice are festoon lights,’ says Amy Mason, Director of Product, Lights4fun. ‘With extendable lengths you can easily estimate how many you'll need by pacing the ground below the roof line.'

'Opt for a larger bulb spacing (gap between each light) as they’re easy to hang and give an inviting glow to your home without being too crowded. Best suited hung above eye level, they’re the ideal on-trend Christmas light that you can leave up all year round too.’

How do I light up my house for Christmas?

‘The house can also be included in your Christmas lighting scheme,’ adds Amy Mason, Director of Product, Lights4fun. ‘Single story rooflines with Christmas icicle lights can be framed perfectly with a festive window lighting display to make an enchanting approach to your home.'

'Clustering freestanding festive figures with a similar tone to your roof lights allows you to take your lighting display further onto the ground itself and prevents disconnection between lights on your house and those already in your garden.’

Whether you want to set the scene for an intimate atmosphere, light the way for your guests, or simply to create a starry silhouette to twinkle in the nights skies, we have all your lighting needs sorted.