Hints and Tips for Christmas Lighting
Christmas decorating is all about adding colour, sparkle and cheerful lighting to brighten what would otherwise be a very gloomy time of year! With the winter solstice just a few days before Santa pops in with the presents, it’s all about making things brighter and celebrating – and for me, that means adding plenty of cheerful festive lights around my home. Making the whole street a more colourful place is easy to achieve, without spending a fortune - put some low-energy lights around a tree in the front garden, decorate your porch with battery-powered lanterns or make a real impact with a light-up reindeer statue!
I’ve put together a few simple tips to help you choose the best lights for the job, and get the most bang for your buck:
- Battery-powered mini fairy lights look great, and some are fully waterproof for use outside. These are perfect to wrap around the wreath on your front door, to decorate miniature conifers in pots along the pathway or for draping around the porch window, brightening up your street for everyone to enjoy. These have the bonus of not needing mains power, so you’ve much more flexibility where you can choose to put them, and because the bulbs are low-energy, the batteries will last for ages!
- Mains-powered lights for outdoors come in so many different styles, types and price ranges – the sky really is the limit! There are so many options available at your local garden centre, you really can suit your design ideas and your budget. Strings of brightly-coloured incandescent bulbs give a lovely warm glow, festooning the garden fence, up and over an archway or adding interest and illumination to your pergola. These are a traditional favourite, but those with LED bulbs are my best buy, as they use less energy and there’s no risk of them overheating.
- So long as you can plug in lights for outdoor display, you can choose from all kinds of effects – how about nets of lights covering the front of your home, with a sparkle or raindrop effect or even Christmassy slogans! Brightly lit statues of snowmen, reindeer or even Santa himself on the front lawn will look really jolly and let the neighbours know you’re full of festive cheer. Just make sure to read about the safety considerations of setting up lights like this.
- Colourful star or fir cone-shaped battery-powered lights will add all the decorative elements you need to an outdoor Christmas tree, fixing to the branches with loops or clips along the wires. Rechargeable batteries will make things more affordable and eco-friendly, so you can enjoy the festive cheer until twelfth night.
- Solar lights are lovely, but in the depth of winter, they’ll struggle to get enough daylight hours to fully recharge. Choosing low-output solar LEDs in bright colours to decorate the newly-naked branches of a tree can give a gentle atmospheric glow and add a subtle touch.
- Fixing lights up can be done in a variety of ways, depending on the surface you need to attach them to. Fasten along low-level guttering with purpose-made clips, or on wooden structures using cable ties looped through fencing staples. Self-adhesive Velcro loops can be glued to smooth surfaces which don’t get rained on. Some avid lighting designers fix their lights with a hot glue gun and then remove this with rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab afterwards. Consider the material you’re sticking to and pick the right option for your set up. Garden centre staff are accustomed to hanging a multitude of lights for in-store Christmas displays, so ask your local store for advice if you’re not sure.
- Kids can help make coloured lanterns out of Mason jars – create beautiful colourful shapes and patterns using acrylic paints which you can pick up cheaply at your local hobby store and set the design with a hairdryer or in the oven. Add battery-powered tealights or a string of mini fairy lights and place the decorated jars in groups around the front door, in your porch window or on a patio table, for a bright and festive look.