Outdoor Christmas Light Ideas And Tips To Make Your Home Shine This Season

From illuminating the front porch to lining the roof, we've got you covered.

White House with Blue Accents at Christmas
Photo: Marta Xochilt Perez; Styling: Jenny O’Connor

It's no secret that the South has incredible holiday lights. Cities from Texas to Georgia dress up for the season with displays of lights in all kinds of festive designs and every color of the rainbow. While these drive-through experiences are fun to visit as a family activity or while on vacation, Southerners don't always want to travel to see the lights. Sometimes, we want them right at home!

To help you decorate your home for the holiday season, we've rounded up outdoor Christmas light ideas from professionals and Southern Living homes. Whether you decide to light up your front porch or illuminate the whole thing, these outdoor Christmas light ideas are sure to make your house the most festive on the block.

What Type of Lights Should You Use?

The struggle of choosing between a traditional outdoor glow of heavenly all-white lights or something cheery and classic like color lights is the same every year. Gary McCoy, store manager at Lowe's in Charlotte, North Carolina, has a theory: "Between multicolor and white lights, there really are no downsides to either lighting option. It's all really a matter of personal preference!"

Multi-Color Vs. White Christmas Lights

"White Christmas lights lend a timeless look, while multicolor lights are fun and festive," McCoy says. However, for those who like to loop tunes to their lights or really play up a theme, he recommends color lights as a better option. "You can coordinate them to create complex designs or color block large areas with single-colored strands for a dramatic effect," he shares.

Warm Vs. Cool White Lights

Often another holiday humdinger is deciding between warm-white lights or cool white lights. There isn't a wrong or right answer, but mixing the two variations of white lights is a home decorating no-no. "Pick one kind of white and being consistent with that choice," McCoy advises. "Mixing warm and cool lights together in the same area can look mismatched when hung side by side."

Another pro decorating tip: Both white and multi-color lights can vary depending on the maker, so make sure all of your lights match pre-hanging.

Where to Hang Christmas Lights

After your light colors have been selected, it's time to plan where these lights will go. As a general rule, it's best to hang Christmas lights where they will accentuate your home's best features.

"If you're looking to play up your home's features, such as bay windows, eaves, and roof edges, white icicle lights are a great option to give your home a look of winter charm," McCoy adds.

New Holiday Light Trends and Ideas

Don't get too excited with your traditional light picks that you forget to add a few modern illuminated touches. "With so many new options available, you aren't only limited to traditional white and multicolor string lights," notes McCoy. "There are other trending options like snowflakes and another novelty lighting that can add a special touch."

Some homeowners are also fans of holiday light projectors which work by pointing one light toward a home and can project thousands of tiny Christmas-colored dots or an illustration (snowflake, Santa, or snowman) onto the house's exterior. More trends we love: Large-bulb lights, which McCoy says can create visual impact and lend a retro feel, as well as animated and color-changing lights that can create eye-catching action.

Looking for more outdoor Christmas light ideas? Take some inspiration from the six holiday homes below, then shop the best outdoor lights to dress up your own.

01 of 06

Frame the Front Door

Christmas Exteriors Natural Layers
This inviting home uses dimensional layering techniques, like wreaths, bows, and lights, to create a festive display.

For a Christmas touch with serious curb appeal, wrap outdoor lights around a garland and hang it above your front door. Bonus points for lighting two small trees on each side.

02 of 06

Line the Roof

Christmas Exteriors Merry and Bright
The decor starts with a simple arrangement of wreaths and garland. The golden, glowing lights bring major Christmas cheer to the home.

Make way for Santa's sleigh to land on the roof by adding outdoor Christmas lights under the overhang above your home's front entrance.

03 of 06

Lead the Way

Christmas Exteriors Lit with Luminaries
Who says you need a porch to make your yard merry? We love simple and easy luminaries lighting the way to this stately house. Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Caroline Cunningham

Luminaries look pretty lined up on either side of a front entryway or path. We specially love how this homeowner carried the decor theme and lights inside with a small luminary lit in every window.

04 of 06

Illuminate the Front Porch

Christmas Exteriors Evergreen Glow
Miniature Christmas trees mirror the indoor décor, and multiple wreaths prove that sometimes, more is more. Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

There's something special about a Southern front porch, and even more so when it's done-up at Christmastime. Let this photo inspire you to hang a lit garland along your railing.

05 of 06

Highlight Your Home

White House with Blue Accents at Christmas
Marta Xochilt Perez; Styling: Jenny O’Connor

Go big or go home, right? This home shines bright with Christmas cheer thanks to outdoor lights wrapped around each column and along the roofline. The nutcracker figurines add a fun, festive touch.

06 of 06

Let the Interior Shine

Idea House Christmas
Photography: Brooke Fornea Styling: Kendra Surface

Outdoor Christmas lights sure are pretty, but they aren't always necessary. At this house, the windows are lit up from the inside to showcase wreaths on the home's exterior.

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