A Gallery of Great Ideas for Christmas Light Displays

Need Inspiration? Here Are Great Ideas for Christmas Light Displays

If you love designing fabulous Christmas light displays, you probably enjoy driving around town (and outlying areas) in search of the best lit displays in other people's yards. It is one of the best parts of the holiday season!

Christmas light displays can also be a great inspiration for next year. Maybe you could do something amazing with those twinkling icicles you saw at your neighbor's home -- or create a unique light sculpture like the family down the road.

Sadly, though, discounts on...MORE Christmas lights rarely occur during the Christmas season. That's why you might enjoy browsing this collection of inspirational Christmas displays. As you look through the pictures, take notes -- and then pop into your local shop to buy what you'll need for next year's amazing light show!

  • 01 of 24

    Giant Christmas Light Bulbs

    These jumbo-size Christmas light bulbs stand over 16 inches high and function as lawn stakes.
    These jumbo-size Christmas light bulbs stand over 16 inches high and function as lawn stakes. David Beaulieu

    Some folks like to do things in a big way, and that includes their displays of outdoor Christmas lights. There are two ways in which you can "go big" with a Christmas light display:

    1. You can string together impressive masses of small lights.
    2. Or -- if you wish to be unorthodox -- you can go big literally with jumbo light bulbs.

    The idea behind approach #1 echoes a typical use of bedding plants in landscaping. Small units do not make much of a statement on their own, but when used in massed...MORE displays can impress the viewer in a big way. The principle is true with plants, and it holds just as true with outdoor Christmas lighting.

    But the people whose Christmas light display is pictured at left took tack #2: they went big literally. These giant Christmas light bulbs stand over 16 inches high. Their height makes them rather striking lawn stakes, suitable for lining walkways or driveways.

  • 02 of 24

    A More Tasteful "Jumbo" Display

    Photo of a large Christmas bulb as part of a garland decoration on a fence.
    Photo of a large Christmas bulb as part of a garland decoration on a fence. David Beaulieu

    The giant Christmas bulbs in picture #1 above may be a bit gaudy for some folks. While the big bulb in this picture may not be a "traditional" holiday ornament for the outdoors, it may be sufficiently well-made to escape the "tacky" label, depending upon how low-key you require your yard decor to be.

    The garland incorporated in this Christmas light display tones it down a bit as well.

  • 03 of 24

    Angel Lights

    Photo of a Christmas light decoration in the shape of an angel.
    Photo of a Christmas light decoration in the shape of an angel. David Beaulieu

    Angels are a natural for Christmas light displays. Consider using angels to recreate Christmas carols ("Angels We Have Heard on High," or "Hark the Herald Angels Sing") or place a beautiful angel above your Nativity scene.

    The trumpet in the ornament shown in this picture is a nice added touch: a way to "make a joyful noise!"

  • 04 of 24

    Cute Teddy Bears

    Teddy bears are popular year-round, but never more so than at Christmas.
    Teddy bears are popular year-round, but never more so than at Christmas, as this picture of Christmas lights shows. David Beaulieu

    Teddy bears, popular year-round, are never more so than at Christmas, as is exemplified by this cute Christmas light display. Perhaps the larger figure is a mama bear, and that the smaller one is her baby. She seems to be giving junior a candy cane for the holiday.

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  • 05 of 24

    Spinning Like a Top

    Xmas lights photo showing a spinning top.
    Xmas lights photo showing a spinning top. David Beaulieu

    It is hard to believe that, once upon a time, kids received items such as spinning tops for presents, not video games. But you can still get away with giving the kids a top for Christmas -- a lighted top, used as a holiday lawn ornament, as shown in this picture. Heck, this is one top you, yourself may even enjoy.

  • 06 of 24

    Lighted Toy Soldier or "Nutcracker"

    Photo of a toy soldier (sometimes called a
    Photo of a toy soldier (sometimes called a "nutcracker") figure made from Xmas lights. David Beaulieu

    We are all familiar with the holiday soldiers and nutcrackers featured in The Nutcracker ballet. In this picture of a Christmas light display, a toy soldier is featured as the centerpiece, complemented by a lighted ball and candy cane.

  • 07 of 24

    Choo-Choo!

    Photo of Christmas lights decoration in the form of a train.
    Photo of Christmas lights decoration in the form of a train. David Beaulieu

    There are many theories about why trains are associated with Christmas. Whatever the reason, the Polar Express and traditional Lionel train sets make Christmas and trains inseparable. Giving a child (or adult, in the case of some train aficionados) that much-coveted train set is one of our most enduring Christmas traditions.

  • 08 of 24

    Gingerbread Man, Gingerbread House

    Photo of of Xmas lights in shape of gingerbread man and gingerbread house.
    Photo of of Xmas lights in shape of gingerbread man and gingerbread house. David Beaulieu

    Gingerbread men, gingerbread women, and gingerbread houses are popular year-round, but never more so than during the holiday season. The outdoor Christmas light display shown in this picture features a bulb ensemble in the shape of a gingerbread man and gingerbread house.

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  • 09 of 24

    Santa's Reindeer

    Photo of Santa, sleigh and reindeer with Christmas lights.
    Photo of Santa, sleigh and reindeer with Christmas lights. David Beaulieu

    Santa's reindeer come in many forms and are used in various ways as ornaments for outdoors. Some reindeer sculptures are composed entirely of artificial materials. Others prefer the more traditional grapevine reindeer sculptures. This picture shows reindeer used in conjunction with a sleigh and a Santa Claus figure to compose a complete Christmas light display.

  • 10 of 24

    Garlands: Graceful, Tasteful

    Photo of lighted Christmas garlands.
    Photo of lighted Christmas garlands. David Beaulieu

    Garlands are a staple in the wintertime yard, especially among homeowners who prefer tasteful ornaments composed of natural materials. Natural garlands, though, can be messy and fragile, so many people choose artificial garlands. A popular use of garlands is to wind them around porch poles, as in this photo.

  • 11 of 24

    Santa's Helper

    Picture of Christmas lights: elf holding lantern.
    Picture of Christmas lights: elf holding lantern. David Beaulieu

    Who needs Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to light the way with this resplendent elf around? Santa's diminutive helper seems to be doing a fine job all by himself, based on the ornament in this picture. His lantern and shiny outline would serve to illuminate the way on any stormy Christmas eve.

  • 12 of 24

    Elf Bearing Gifts

    Photo of elf with Christmas presents.
    Photo of elf with Christmas presents. David Beaulieu

    In this Christmas light display, Santa's little helper assumes a more traditional role. The elves are known, of course, for helping Santa Claus move all those gifts around in Santa's workshop. Santa, himself is sometimes known as "the jolly old elf" or "merry old elf" and by several other names, such as Saint Nicholas and Kris Kringle.

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  • 13 of 24

    Lit Santa Claus Ornament

    Photo of Santa figure lit with Christmas lights.
    Photo of Santa figure lit with Christmas lights. David Beaulieu

    Of course, Christmas light displays often center around solitary Santa Claus ornaments, as here. This lit figure could serve as a substitute for those who can't bring themselves to erect an inflatable Santa Claus on their lawns, no matter how much the kids beg for one!

  • 14 of 24

    Decorating Trees Outdoors

    Photo of Christmas lights on tree.
    Photo of Christmas lights on tree. David Beaulieu

    When we think of stringing sets of lights on trees in the yard, evergreen trees come to mind immediately. And understandably so, since indoor Christmas trees are evergreens. For example, blue spruce and fraser fir are popular Christmas trees.

    But there's no rule saying you have to restrict yourself to those plants. Other evergreen trees and evergreen shrubs can just as easily be decorated. I've seen Emerald Green arborvitae festooned with lights, for instance, as well as dwarf Alberta...MORE spruce, etc.

    Nor do you need to limit yourself to evergreens. If it's simply a light show at night that you want, deciduous trees will serve the purpose just as well, as this photo shows.

  • 15 of 24

    Display Them in Clusters!

    Picture of Christmas cluster lights.
    Picture of Christmas cluster lights. David Beaulieu

    We have come a long way since the work of Edward Johnson (Thomas Edison’s assistant) helped make outdoor Christmas tree lights a feasible idea. You have a number of options now for Christmas light displays. Hang cluster lights on a tree for an airier decor than you get with the more typical strings of bulbs.

  • 16 of 24

    Decorating Weeping Trees

    Photo of weeping tree with Christmas lights.
    Photo of weeping tree with Christmas lights. David Beaulieu

    With their unusual forms, weeping trees add an interesting element to a landscape design at any time of the year. Decorated for the holidays as in this picture, their weeping habits can yield some novel results.

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  • 17 of 24

    Take Your Decorating to Another Level

    Photo of Christmas light decoration in the shape of a helicopter.
    Photo of Christmas light decoration in the shape of a helicopter. David Beaulieu

    The folks who came up with this decorating idea weren't content with adorning their lawn and house with festive bulbs. So they took to the air. This helicopter decoration is a sure attention grabber. Whether it is "quirky" or "tacky" will depend on your perspective, but one thing is beyond doubt: it's a showstopper!

  • 18 of 24

    Lamp Post Decorated for the Holidays

    Photo of lamp post with Christmas lights.
    Photo of lamp post with Christmas lights. David Beaulieu

    If you have a lamp post in the yard, then you have a leg up on creating your display.

    Just twine a garland around your lamp post, perhaps adding some red ribbons, then perform your function as lamplighter by flicking the switch.

    Did you know that in days of yore, when towns lit their streets with gas lights, an individual dubbed a "lamplighter" was in charge of lighting the town's lamp posts at night, then extinguishing the flames the next morning? Ever since, "lamplighter" has...MORE taken on the additional meaning of someone or something that brings enlightenment to people.

  • 19 of 24

    Deck Out the Deck

    Photo of Christmas lights decorating a deck.
    Photo of Christmas lights decorating a deck. David Beaulieu

    "Deck the halls with boughs of holly" is a famous injunction for decorating indoors. But outdoors, some folks literally have a deck to "deck out." Decks provide a sturdy, accessible base for outdoor decorations. Displays of the sort shown in this picture, featuring a "Happy Holidays" welcome and poinsettia flowers in lights, give a whole new meaning to "deck lighting."

  • 20 of 24

    Santa's Sleigh

    Xmas light display with Santa Claus in his sleigh, pulled by two reindeer.
    Xmas light display with Santa Claus in his sleigh, pulled by two reindeer. David Beaulieu

    Santa's sleigh is whisked through the air by Rudolph and the other reindeer on Christmas eve. The first two lines of the song that made Rudolph famous relate the names of the other reindeer (always a good trivia question!):

    "You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen."

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  • 21 of 24

    Lit Snowflake Decoration

    Snowflake Christmas light decoration.
    Snowflake Christmas light decoration. David Beaulieu

    If you live in a warm climate, your winter landscape may lack a backdrop of snow. No problem, just incorporate a snowflake ornament such as this one into your repertoire.

  • 22 of 24

    Decorating Arches

    Photo of arch with Christmas lights.
    Photo of arch with Christmas lights. David Beaulieu

    You've decorated the trees, shrubs, house and lawn. What's left? Well, these folks found a way to work in some additional decor. They lit up the arch over their driveway. The bells are a nice finishing touch.

    But don't stop there. Why not decorate a wooden garden arbor? Likewise, pergolas can be brought to life during the holiday season using Christmas light displays. It's easy enough to tack strings of outdoor lights on a wooden fence, while vinyl fences may be more amenable to...MORE garland displays (which can be threaded through openings in the fence).

  • 23 of 24

    "Nothing But Net"

    Photo of net lighting.
    Photo of net lighting. David Beaulieu

    Net lighting has become very popular for lighted Christmas displays outdoors. Ease of installation has a lot to do with its popularity. Many homeowners drape these blankets of brightness over their foundation plantings.

    While it's a great choice for its ease of use and for covering wide areas, net lighting can easily be overused. Don't fall into that trap. Remember that the creative homeowner will shun excessive use of this product, instead using it to "fill in" where quick color...MORE is needed.

    Of course, if you've waited until the last week before Christmas to decorate your yard and it's freezing outside, that's another matter!

  • 24 of 24

    White or Colored?

    You don't have to choose between all white lights or all colored lights in your Xmas decorations.
    You don't have to choose between all white lights or all colored lights in your Xmas decorations, although I prefer either/or. David Beaulieu

    One great debate regarding Christmas light displays is, Which looks better: white or colored lighting? But as the picture shows, some folks opt for a mix: white lights in one area, colored lights in another.