Outdoor Christmas decor ideas are a magical way to greet your guests on arrival for festivities, and help extend the holiday enchantment beyond your home's four walls.
Visiting a Christmas light show in a public garden is gradually becoming a festive tradition for many, so it makes perfect sense that we want to recreate that enchanted wonderland to enjoy for ourselves in our own back or front yard.
Beyond lighting, al fresco decor can also encompass door wreaths and garlands made from foraged pine branches, cozy seating areas bedecked with blankets, and even full-blown Christmas trees.
Outdoor Christmas decor ideas
From lanterns filled with baubles to an all-out exterior light display, we’ve found the best outdoor Christmas decor ideas to give the exterior of your home a decorative treatment and set the perfect mood for the holidays.
1. Make your own wreath
Christmas wreath ideas are among both the easiest and most effective way to spruce up your outdoor space – and you can have even more festive fun by setting aside some time to make your own.
‘We recommend foraging and working to create a more organic design,’ says Holly Bannon, Design Manager at Milc Interiors (opens in new tab). This wreath has been made with willow and branches of winter berries, which can be easily forages and formed into a wreath. ‘For a wreath, start at the top, bottom, left and right and then work to fill the gaps so it’s balanced’, advises Bannon.
2. Deck your doorway with garlands
'We have seen a huge trend in customers wanting to decorate the outside of their homes as much as the inside,' says Jason Billings-Cray, Christmas Buyer at John Lewis (opens in new tab).
Of course, Christmas door decor ideas are about much more than wreaths. If you want to extend your holiday decorations above, around and beyond the door area, garlands are a great way to continue a festive theme over a wider surface area. Pin them above the doorway or across a porch roof, or wrap them around porch columns like in this example, where a garland that features pine cones, dried oranges and cinnamon sticks.
3. Scatter faux snow to create a winter wonderland
Dreaming of a white Christmas? Not everyone will be lucky enough to wake up to freshly fallen snow on the morning of the 25th December, but it’s possible to recreate that magic in all sorts of climes with a bit of trickery. Using faux snow to turn your porch area into a winter wonderland will create a magical experience for kids – save it for a Christmas day surprise for maximum effect. If you’re wondering how to make a Christmas wreath feel a little extra special on the big day, consider scattering a handful of it on your wreath too for an immersive feel.
4. Decorate trees
Christmas light ideas for outdoor trees are a dazzling way to make your garden glow from top to bottom. Wrap trees or shrubbery in an abundance of golden string lights to create a display to delight guests or passersby.
Twinkling lights outside the front or rear of your home also create a magical atmosphere when glimpsed through the window from inside come dusk.
‘Festoon lights make any space happier,’ says Dani Taylor, Buying Director at Cox and Cox (opens in new tab). 'If you have a small patio or balcony just one or two sets can make a huge difference to the ambience, and you can connect multiple sets to decorate a bigger space or garden.’
5. Embellish steps
For an easy way to dress up your doorstep or Christmas porch decor ideas, fill smart hurricane lanterns with a beautiful array of baubles in various shapes and sizes, lit with simple battery-powered string lights.
Wind the lights around the decorations so that the bulbs are reflected in the baubles to maximise the twinkle effect, so the lanterns will add a welcome glow to your entrance.
6. Go big on foliage
If you don’t have a porch to decorate, you can still go to town with real Christmas foliage ideas to frame your front door.
Wire fir and evergreen branches together to form a lavish, oversized garland, wrap with simple warm white string lights so it looks as good come nightfall as it does during the day, and hang the garland around the doorway.
Continue the theme with a wreath on the front door, made from the same foliage for a coordinated look.
7. Use symmetry
For a festive touch that matches the elegance of a pillared stone portico, keep the display simple and restrained, with a pair of identical tall hurricane lanterns in smart silver, placed symmetrically either side of your front door.
As well as looking striking, the lanterns will protect candles from the elements, meaning you don’t need to worry about them being accidentally blown out. Continue the sense of scale with an oversize wreath on the door – real foliage or a frosted finish brings a sophisticated flourish.
8. Create a tree from lights
Use outdoor Christmas light ideas (opens in new tab) to conjure up a festive focal point in your front or rear garden.
Hang strands of warm white LED string lights from a central pole (or peg the strings to a bamboo cane wigwam designed for climbing plants) to create a showstopping outdoor tree.
‘Creating your very own winter wonderland is easier than you may think,’ says Becky Tasker, Brand Creative at Lights4Fun (opens in new tab). ‘The key is to focus your efforts on one stunning focal point.’
9. Line the path
Draw the eye up the steps to your front door with a glowing arrangement of lanterns and flickering candles.
‘Place potted trees either side of your front door to create an alpine feel, complete with outdoor lanterns around the porch area and down steps. As the evening draws in, the lanterns will produce a charming glow to welcome you home,’ says Becky Tasker, Brand Creative, Lights4Fun.
Battery-operated candles mean you don’t have to worry about the potential fire hazard and they’ll last longer, too.
10. Hang paper lanterns
Evoke Christmasses past with these classic Oriental-style concertina lanterns, hung from simple shepherd’s crook hooks – just the ticket for lining a path.
'Lanterns can be used to illuminate a garden pathway and offer an intimate glow along the path or be hung from trees to accentuate the natural feeling of your garden,' says Michael Meiser, President of Lumilum.
Choose simple, white, fire-retardant paper lanterns and fill them with a tealight (real or battery) to provide soft, ambient light and a magical glow.
You could also string them up from trees, or hang them from ribbon from the porch ceiling for an extra outdoor display.
11. Gift wrap your door
Stand out from the crowd and make a flamboyant statement by gift wrapping your front door theatrically in giant ribbon, created using a roll of festively cheerful red taffeta.
For extra flounce and flourish, finish with a luxurious bow.
12. Light up shrubs
Swap the classic net of fairy lights across hedging for something more striking.
'If your garden has features you want to show off, use LED spotlights to highlight your gardens best bits – and any decorations you might have put up – while giving that striking appearance to the area this festive season,' says Meiser.
'For a less intense alternative, weave warm coloured bulb fixtures or lanterns into your plants or shrubs to create warmth that emanates from amongst them – giving your whole garden that warm, cozy feeling.'
Nestle classic star-shaped outdoor lights (usually to be found lighting up the walls or roovces of houses) into hedge foliage – if you have an opening, decorate around it so that it feels as if you’re stepping through into an enchanted wonderland.
Take your cue from professionally lit gardens by lighting trees and shrubs from below to give an ethereal ambiance.
13. Style a porch scene
Treat the porch or doorstep as an extension of the home, and deck it out for the holidays as you would your rooms inside.
Decorate a mini tree (fresh or artificial) with lights and baubles, fill vases or urns with festive foliage, and cluster groupings together with lanterns and votive holders.
Vary the height and size of the objects in the display to create a well-balanced vignette and dress the front door with a coordinating wreath for a harmonious look.
What Christmas lighting do I use outdoors?
‘Wrap trees in glowing golden string lights and place an illuminated garland and wreath on the door to welcome guests in. Icicle lights look dazzling lining gutters and their stalactite style create the perfect winter display,’ says Becky Tasker, Brand Creative at Lights4Fun.
What’s the best way to decorate a Christmas front porch?
‘I love an Instagram shot of a big American porch with trees up either side of a grand staircase,’ says Cox and Cox’ s Buying Director, Dani Taylor.
‘Most front doors could accommodate a small indoor outdoor pre-lit potted tree – if you have enough room then one each side of the door – perhaps pop them in a fluted zinc planter to look fabulous and give you instant curb appeal.’
How do you hang a garland or wreath without nails?
There are some creative hanging solutions if nails aren’t an option. For wreaths, look out for over-the-door hangers – these come in a host of finishes so choose one to suit your scheme.
Command hooks are a stylist’s favourite – these clever hooks come in different finishes and are easily removable. Choose one to suit the weight of your wreath – they’re also the perfect answer for hanging a garland without nails – fix them at regular intervals to hook the garland in place.
Ailis started out at British GQ, where a month of work experience turned into 18 months of working on all sorts of projects, writing about everything from motorsport to interiors, and helping to put together the GQ Food & Drink Awards. She then spent three years at the London Evening Standard, covering restaurants and bars. After a period of freelancing, writing about food, drink and homes for publications including Conde Nast Traveller, Luxury London and Departures, she started at Homes & Gardens as a Digital Writer, allowing her to fully indulge her love of good interior design. She is now a fully fledged food PR but still writes for Homes & Gardens as a contributing editor.