Quicklist: Outdoor Christmas Lights
- C3 Bulbs
- C6 Bulbs
- C7 Bulbs
- C9 Bulbs
- Pathway C
- Twigs and Branches
- Tree Trunk Web
Four years ago we didn’t own a single strand of Christmas lights. Then we moved into a new house and the first weekend of December five houses going up our steep street were lit up like Christmas trees. The house on the other side of us was lit up, too. Ours was the dark, party-pooper house without lights.
We didn’t get the memo that our street goes nuts at Christmas. We simply could not be the house that rained on the Christmas light parade. I jumped into the car and went out Christmas light shopping for the first time in my life.
$500 later and a full day of work, our house was part of the light brigade. It was a good start. By the next Christmas, I had done more research and discovered better lights.
This was the year we really cranked it up a few notches — I bought about 300 more feet of lights on spools and went to town. Each year we buy more. We’re now at the point where we’re running out of space to put the lights.
I don’t want to put lights up just for the sake of putting them up. I want the display to be tasteful, as well. Fortunately, our house sits at the top of a hilly street and our house is on the upside which means it stands as a beacon.
Our street is well known for it’s light display and we have many cars driving by all through December checking them out. It’s an impressive scene. While we’ve spent well over $1,000 on lights, I was happy to do so, because it’s fun putting a big effort into something that really shows.
After four years, I’m a Christmas light expert having bought all kinds, colors and sizes. I have my preferences.
Update: In 2020 I decided to hang up my staple and hire a Christmas light hanging service that we’ve now used two years in a row. Here’s what I learned about hiring a Christmas light hanging service.
Related: Mail Order Furniture Catalogs
Christmas Lights: Series vs. Parallel Circuit
My Exterior Christmas Light Preferences
- Color coordination: At first, I focused on white lights, but after putting up strings of red and blue strategically throughout the yard, I must admit I love those two colors. They’re very dramatic. On the flip side, I do not like multi-colored strings. I prefer each strand to be one color and coordinate those lines around the property.
- The one exception is multi-color or two-color strings look OK on the house.
- Spools: Don’t mess around with short strings. Buy the spools. You can never have too many lights. Spools are also much easier to roll out and roll up at the end of the season.
- Icicles and other novelty lights: Use these strategically to add visual interest. However, don’t go too nuts with them.
- Projector lights: Not my thing.
- Size: I like smaller bulbs by far. The LED lights are bright and so having more of the smaller bulbs looks much, much better. We mix mini-bulbs with regular C3 bulbs around the yard. The bulbs on the house are a bit bigger.
- Extension cords: Make sure you have a lot of them. The most time-consuming part of putting up our light display is coordinating, concealing and ensuring proper safety measures with the extension cords. My biggest concern is that there should be absolutely no tripping hazards anywhere.
- Light timer: This is a must-have accessory. The first year we had to go out in the cold at night to turn them off and remember to turn on around dinner time. Now we have timers at both outlets which is a great luxury.
- Clips: I do not use clips on trees and bushes. It’s a nightmare to take down and they’re not necessary. I only use clips for the light strings attached to the house, clipping those to the gutter. That’s my two cents’ on putting up Christmas lights.
- Here’s my in-depth guide setting out all the different types of Christmas lights you can buy for your house exterior.
I use only plug-in lights. We have a few battery-powered strings for the interior, but outside, it’s plug-in only.
You may prefer battery-powered lights if you don’t have access to an outside outlet or aren’t putting up that many lights — but if you’re serious about a light display, you should get lights that plug-in.
There are also solar-powered lights, which I’ve not used. We don’t get enough sun and I don’t want them shutting off or dimming.
Source: Home Depot
We use a mix of LED and incandescent. LED is brighter and they last longer.
Source: Home Depot
This is old school. We use incandescent on the tree. I think incandescent is the better-looking bulb.
TIP: It’s fine using both types, but ensure you don’t mix the two on the same bush or tree. This takes some coordination. You will notice the differences between the two and they will look bad.
Projection is the easiest and fastest way to get an explosion of light on your house. This is a Clark Griswold dream.
I don’t like them because it’s too much. However, one exception is projection can be a good way to illuminate a part of the house — such as the side, or a large solid part of the wall, to add a cool element. I don’t plan on adding projection, but if used strategically the effect can work really well.
White was always my favorite light color until we added red and blue strings to the mix. I had to admit, the dramatic red and blue peppered throughout the yard looks fantastic. Now we have an equal mix of red, blue and white throughout the yard and multi-colored lights on the house.
A dark red light is spectacular. I recommend incorporating that into the mix.
Blue is surprisingly impressive. I never would have bought blue lights until I saw them on a neighbor’s house and they looked amazing.
I don’t use green lights, but they are definitely a Christmas color. Check out the house with lights below to see an example of green lights on the front yard posts.
I’m not a fan of multi-colored strings despite that’s what we have on our house. It’s OK on the house, but for the yard, I think strings of single colors look best on various bushes, etc.
I love these mini-lights. We put an insane number of these inside and outside our house. We really go all out.
These are super easy to put up and take down. The following are regular light sizes ranging from C3 (smaller) to C9 (bigger). I prefer smaller, except a bit bigger for the house lights.
13. C3 Bulbs
14. C5 Bulbs
16. C7 Bulbs
17. C9 Bulbs
I love icicle lights. I’m going to buy a lot of them this year for the top of the garage doors. Here’s what I’m talking about:
Source: Home Depot
I love the nets. We only have one, but I want more. They’re super easy to put on bushes and look amazing. I strongly recommend a few nets if you have bushes in your hard.
Source: Home Depot
Nothing unusual here. Most lights are on a string. Fortunately, they come in very long strings spooled up. Don’t mess around with anything other than spools. I’ve made that mistake before.
There are all kinds of novelty lights and lighted objects you can get for your house. Here’s just one example of many:
Source: Home Depot
I don’t have any rope lights because I prefer the mini-strings and webs. I think the rope lights work great on walkway railings, but our walkway is a series of stairs so it’s not that easy to put on.
These are my favorite lights for both inside and outside the house. They look fabulous on trees. Yes, we have plenty of the C3 lights on very long strands, but the mini-lights are great for small bushes and trees.
You can buy wreaths that are essentially a big ball of lights. Here’s an example:
27. Twigs and Branches
We have one set of these and they look great. We place it at the top of the stairs leading to the front door. They’re a little finicky, but have lasted three years, so far.
You can also get all kinds of large scenes for your yard that light up. The above is just one of many examples. This isn’t my thing — I prefer sticking with lights but I imagine our young kids may talk us into some crazy big scene because kids love these things.
29. Tree Trunk Web
If you have a large tree in your yard, get a trunk web. I think it looks fabulous. We don’t have such a tree so this is not necessary.
21. Outdoor Christmas Decorations and Light Examples (Photos)
There’s nothing like real-life examples of spectacular outdoor Christmas decorations and lighting displays to get inspiration for your own house. Here’s an extensive gallery of ideas:
Top Brands of Christmas Lights
If you’re looking for reliable Christmas lights with a traditional and all-white design, that’s what you’ll get from Prextex. Their lights are designed for indoor, as well as outdoor use, and you even get extra bulbs and replacement fuses as part of the package.
Amazon Basics products don’t need any introduction, and their Christmas string lights are ideal for outdoor use. You get Amazon Basics Christmas lights in various lengths and different color options, such as warm white and multi-color.
Twinkle Star’s fairy lights may not seem like the right choice for Christmas, but they’re especially appropriate if you want to steer away from the traditional style of Christmas lights. The lights come with eight modes to choose from, including waves, twinkle, slow, slow fade, and more.
With high-quality construction, these Christmas lights from Wintergreen Lighting are a good choice if you don’t want to buy lights every year. You can get their lights in various color options and they come with built-in clips for easy and convenient hanging. The lights are especially good for outdoor use and work well on big trees or roof lines.
BHCLIGHT offers extra-long LED Christmas lights in the traditional green wire we’ve all become used to. Their lights can give your Christmas tree a beautiful, warm glow that encompasses the Christmas spirit. The lights can be used inside as well as outside, because they’re waterproof.
They also come with eight different lighting modes to choose from.
Yuletime’s multicolor LED Christmas lights have impressive brightness and are easy to set up. The bright and vibrant colors make Yuletime lights stand out and you’ll love how many colors there are to choose from. The lights have a “Stay Lit” design, which means if one bulb burns out, the rest of them will continue to stay on.
The Christmas lights by QUWIN are quite unique in that they give off a lovely blue hue thanks to the cool white light emitted. There are eight different lighting modes to choose from. You can use these lights on their own or as part of a lighting extravaganza with other similar lights.
Home Accents offer Christmas lights that are durable and easy to use while shining brightly and beautifully. The cute lights are available in a multi-colored option if that’s what you’re looking for. You can use Home Accents’ Christmas lights indoors, as well as outdoors, and they’re quite affordable.
If you’re looking for Christmas lights that can be used outdoors without failing as soon as the weather picks up, you will love Twinkly’s Multi-color LED String Lights. Thanks to a hands-free operation design, the lights are easy to use. You can also set different sections of the lights to different colors.
MZD8391 Christmas Lights
MZD8391’s Christmas lights are very bright and shine beautifully while also being easy to use. They’re available in various colors and different lighting effects, as well. Thanks to high-quality construction, the lights will last many festive seasons.
Y YUEGANG Christmas laser lights are a great option if you don’t like hanging traditional lights. The projector can simply be staked into the ground, or mounted somewhere sturdy, and aimed on surfaces, with many colors to choose from.
If you want to do something different this Christmas, Huacenmy’s outdoor solar snowflake string lights is a great option. The lights, which have a cute snowflake shape, can be installed just about anywhere. They come with eight different lighting modes that include fading, flashing and twinkling.
KNONEW’s Christmas lights come in different colors, like blue, purple, warm white, and orange. You can also get the lights in various string lengths, and they have built-in timer functions.
Touch of Eco
If you’re looking for solar-powered Christmas lights, Touch of Eco offers high-quality options. The lights can be installed just about anywhere, have long lead wires and come with different light effects.
Aluan’s Christmas lights are a fun option if you’re in the mood for something different and interesting. You get the lights in many color options, like warm white, cool white, and blue. You can also choose different lengths, depending on where you want to install them.
Where to Buy Christmas Lights
Christmas Lights Etc.
As you can already guess, Christmas Lights Etc. offers exactly what the name implies. You’ll find thousands of unique holiday light options along with a wide variety of other festive décor items. If you’re looking for a very specific type of light, then Christmas Lights Etc. is the place to shop.
This online store has been open since 2000 and continues to offer a fantastic variety of options for holiday decorations and lighting, as well as fun Halloween lighting, patio decorations, and lots of artificial Christmas trees. You can also find individual bulbs in a wide range of sizes, colors, and styles, just in case you need one single replacement bulb for your lights at home. Be sure to check out their variety of beautiful artificial lighted Christmas wreaths, too.
It’s not surprising that Amazon is chock-full of a wide variety of Christmas light options for your holiday festivities. Visit the world-famous website to find a ton of unique lights featured in a range of colors, bulb styles, and more. You can find a 300-count pack of affordable Christmas lights that come in unique color options and traditional styles.
Look for lights featured in colors like purple or orange for a funky and fun touch this season. This massive online retailer should have the perfect Christmas lights for you. Prime members also get free, fast shipping, which means you can find what you need at the last minute if you have to.
There are over 10,000 results for Christmas lights on Amazon, so you’re almost guaranteed to find exactly what you’re looking for.
This UK-based company has been offering customers a range of holiday décor and lights since 1999. The website is filled with fun designs and features an array of Christmas decorations, mostly focused on lighting. Be sure to check out their smart lights which include a free mobile app download.
The app lets you control your lights remotely via your smartphone, and you can also draw your own design, which is transmitted to the lights via Wi-Fi. You can even choose a range of color combinations like gold, silver, and bronze that can flash in sync with the music.
The website also offers a wide range of indoor and outdoor holiday lighting and decorations. If you’re in America, the company does provide worldwide shipping, but you’ll have to pay for shipping on any orders that are less than $300.
If you’re looking for a high-end home goods store that offers charming, rustic holiday lighting and décor, Pottery Barn is an excellent choice. This retailer offers a wide range of stylish Christmas lights and many other items for your holiday home. The high-end home goods store has been in existence since 1949 and continues to provide customers with a variety of beautiful, rustic-inspired furniture and décor.
Pottery Barn has several brick and mortar locations throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Australia. You can also purchase most of their products online. Many items are available in limited quantities, so if you see something you like, it’s best to purchase it before it’s gone.
Target is by far one of America’s favorite retailers, offering groceries, clothing, household items, and plenty of holiday lights and décor. This popular retailer has over 1,800 stores throughout the United States, as well as a website and smartphone app. The country’s eighth-largest retailer sells a variety of fun items for the holidays, including Christmas lights and other lighted decorations.
You’ll find everything from colorful, novelty-style lights and décor to beautiful, rustic-inspired options from the company’s flagship brand, Threshold. Almost everything sold at Target is priced competitively and many Christmas lights are offered as low as $5 per set. From LED string lights for your tree to fun projection lighting, Target has everything you need all in one location.
Don’t forget to check out a customer favorite, the Target Wondershop line, which features a fantastic assortment of colorful, fun ornaments, holiday decorations, lighting, and more. If you don’t have a Target near you, the company also offers free two-day shipping on hundreds of thousands of items with just a $35 minimum purchase.