Christmas Outdoor Decorations – Don’t Get SAD, Get Decorating!

Christmas comes at a time of year when the sun shines only briefly, when darkness comes as early as 4 pm in many areas of the northern hemisphere, and many people start wishing for festive and cheerful Christmas outdoor decorations. Winter solstice starts just days before Christmas, and even though that date marks the time when days start getting longer, it seems like just the beginning of cold weather, cabin fever and the winter blues. Holiday lighting and decor can be one antidote for Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly known as SAD.

Read on to find some fresh ideas for your Christmas outdoor decorations. You are not limited to the holiday aisle at your local box store anymore. If you have a large house, building or yard, you can even purchase commercial grade lights and decorations that are basically bigger and studier than what you have been used to using.

Consider these options for Christmas outdoor decorations:

garlands, wreaths, finials and evergreen topiaries
bells, ribbons, and snowflakes
gazing balls and brightly colored glass bottles
chandeliers and wind chimes
banners and silhouettes
animated 3-d figures and air blown inflatable figures
nativities and creches
string and rope lights
Think about which features of your house and property could be decorated. Be imaginative! Typically homeowners like to decorate their house to highlight its unique architecture. That means wrapping and lining porches, columns, windows, roof line, and eaves. You can go beyond your house and consider decorating your garage, your pool house, your gazebo, garden shed, and even your doghouse.

Now let’s get creative with the landscape around your house and adjacent structures. Consider using Christmas outdoor decorations in areas besides or in addition to your front yard, where face it; you are trying to impress and cheer up your neighbors. How about using holiday decor in your backyard, side yards, and garden; on your trees and large shrubs; around your swimming pool or pond. Think about decorating your garden features; patio, bench and birdbath; window boxes, decorative containers, hanging baskets; even a vintage bicycle, wagon wheel, or wheelbarrow.

Christmas lights are one of the most popular forms of holiday decorating simply because they bring light and color to our sometimes bleak winter days and nights. The sheer volume and variety of lights and lighting systems available now in stores and online gives you the ability to make very creative and unique Christmas light display. You could use simple strings of white mini-lites to highlight the architecture of your home, or go hole hog with large 2 dimensional framed displays of animated figures. Santa in his sleigh being pulled through the air by 2 or 3 reindeer, for example, is a very popular scene. Its up to you just how much time, effort and money you would like to spend on your Christmas outdoor decorative lights.

Options for Christmas holiday lighting displays:

LED lights, old-fashioned C7and C9 light bulbs, and mini-lites
twinkle lights, rope lights, string lights and net lights
lighted shapes and spheres
metal outdoor votives
2-d animated figures
holographic figures
Be careful when constructing outdoor Christmas lighting displays. Remember you are working with electricity and the elements. Use heavy 18 or 20 gauge wire that is covered with thick (SPT2 is thicker than SPT1) insulation. A good rule is to never plug in more than 1400 watts per electrical circuit. C7 and C9 bulbs, those old-fashioned bulbs that are a bit bigger than mini-lites are typically 5, 7, or 10 watts each. Strings of 100 mini-lites are approximately 50 watts.

For safety only use lights with the ‘Underwriters Laboratories’ label. Make sure you research your electrical needs and costs before you get started on a huge Christmas outdoor lighting display. Here is a simply equation to use to figure out your electrical requirements: Total watts, divided by 120 volts equals the amps you’ll need to power your lights.

Test your lights and replace broken bulbs before installing. Electrical tape can be an alternative to nailing or hooking lighting decor onto structures. Use tree clips or twist ties to attach lights to tree and shrub branches. Avoid aluminum gutters and other metallic features on your house and property.

Christmas outdoor decorating is a fun project for the month of December. You’ll be active in the crisp winter air, basking in the ethereal winter sun. When you go back indoors, you’ll be able to enjoy the results of your hard work for weeks to come as well as feel gratified to know that your Outdoor Christmas decorations bring joy to your friends and neighbors.

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Tips and Ideas for Outdoor Decorating

Home decorating, where does it begin? Where does it end? Outdoor decorating is just as important as indoor decorating. A beautifully landscaped front yard invites visitors to your home. A comfortable and relaxing back yard is a perfect spot for entertaining friends and family.

Outdoor decorating not only improves the value of your home but will also give you up to a 100% return on your investment. With just a few tips and ideas you can be on your way to enhancing your home’s curb appeal. Begin with a well thought out plan that includes landscaping, lighting, a focal point, an outdoor feature, pottery and possibly a sitting area. By thinking things out before you make purchases you can avoid costly mistakes.

The first step in your outdoor decorating project is to take a photo of the front of your house. This gives you the opportunity to look at your front yard objectively. Take the picture from the curb. Does your door stand out or blend in? Your front door is your focal point, so it should stand out. It directs your visitors and tells them where to enter your home. You can accent your front door by color and/or pottery flanking each side.

Another outdoor decorating idea to improve your home’s curb appeal is landscaping. Choose your plants carefully and they’ll reward you by thriving with very little care. Add different textures, heights and colors. Trees also provide shade and are eco-friendly by cooling your home and decreasing energy costs. Make a statement with colorful flowers. They make beautiful accents and can direct the eye to the front door.

Outdoor lighting plans are a great investment and a wonderful way to decorate the exterior of your home. You can use accent lighting, illuminate walkways and add carriage lights around doorways. Outdoor lights come in a variety of styles to complement your home’s d├ęcor.

Another tip for decorating your front yard might be a small sitting area if space permits. You can add a decorative outdoor bench or a pair of rocking chairs with a small beverage table between them. Add a couple of decorative outdoor fabric pillows. Maybe even some hanging plants.

Outdoor decorating should extend into your backyard where you can expand your living area while creating functional spaces. Keep with a style that complements your home decor. You can create a relaxation area, entertaining area or even an outdoor kitchen area.

When your outdoor decorating project is done, your front yard will be a teaser as to what’s inside. Your backyard will be an extension of your interior, giving you room to enjoy your little oasis. Happy outdoor living!

Copyright 2011 Beautiful Interiors For Less, LLC

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Outdoor Decorative Lighting – Illuminate Your Home!

Lighting is usually considered a functional part of the home, both indoor and outdoor. Porch lighting and other security lights that allow for safe passage from one area of the yard or driveway to the home’s entrance are considered necessary lighting installations. However, not all lighting is merely functional, there are many type of outdoor decorative lighting installations that are designed merely for their enhancement to the landscape.

Decorative lighting adds character and a decorative touch to the outdoor living area extending the personality of the home and its owner from the inside to the outside. The lighting scheme can be as complex or as simple as the designer wants it to be. Soft subtle lighting options can be used around patios and decks to allows guests enough light for socializing while more focused lighting can be used to highlight favorite garden flowers or trees.

Decorative outdoor lighting can be used to bring pools and ponds to life when the sun goes down. Water features are spectacular when the sun goes down with the use of floating or underwater light installations. This is also another example of how lighting is not necessarily installed for function but is designed to be a decorative, creative touch to the area.

When planning outdoor lighting plans that are meant to add charm and atmosphere to the landscape it is also possible to combine form with function. Pathway lighting can be decorative while also being a safety feature. Landscape stones with embedded lights are the perfect choice for a lighting option that is both a safety feature and a dramatic addition to the landscape plan.

Choosing lighting that has both form and function is an economical way to create a landscape design that goes beyond beauty and offers security and safety that is necessary for the home and its guests. Landscape architects are able to offer a complete analysis of the landscape and create a plan that is the perfect fit for the home. If the expense of the landscape architect is out of reach, the homeowner can design their own landscape lighting plan by simply following their landscape’s design and their own wishes.

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