Complete Christmas Lighting Guide

Holiday Lighting Guide

At PartyLights, we think that lighting is a great decorative addition year round. We love string lights for a party on a patio in the summer, or in a rustic barn for a fall celebration; we love vintage bulbs in a cafe, or fairy lights decorating a dorm room year round. Of course, there’s one time of year that we especially like, when everyone seems most eager to put up lights throughout their home or business, both indoors and outside: the Christmas and holiday season.

Special lighting for the holidays has long been a part of the culture; going back to the 17th century, people first started adorning Christmas trees with candles, while the traditional Hanukkah menorah with its nine candles dates back millennia. Over the course of the 20th century, lit candles on trees evolved to include special lighting indoors and out: electric lights on mantles, hung across rooflines and dormers, through trees and bushes in yards, and adorning stairways in homes and businesses.

With the holidays rapidly approaching, here are some ideas — both conventional and not — on using lights to spruce things up for the holidays.

Mini Lights … Inside and Out

Perhaps the obvious place to start with holiday lighting is with mini lights. These traditional small bulbs come in strings ranging from white to a full array of colors. Their small size and traditional look make them the perfect choice for a variety of uses. And although they’re small, they provide a lot of illumination!

Using mini lights on your Christmas tree is a recommended “old standby,” but mIni lights also look great when combined with garland. Intertwine the lights with the garland by wrapping the lights around the garland strand and then use them to decorate stairways, creating loops along the stair that are periodically fastened with lightweight wire. Homes with open designs and lights with garland exposed all the way to the second floor make a great statement!

Holiday Lighting Guide - Crescent City
Source: Crescent City Ramblings
Holiday Lighting Guide - Enchanted Home
Source: Enchanted Home

Mini lights with garland also make a great decoration for outdoor displays. While garland alone looks festive while the sun is up, after dark, the mini lights wrapped with the garland make a festive display that goes from day to night. Mini lights with garland look great along railings and vertical posts on porches or patios, and can also be hung from the eaves over a front door.

Holiday Lighting Guide - Frugal Homemaker
Source: The Frugal Homemaker

LED Mini Lights … The Smarter Choice

If you’re replacing mini lights this holiday season, treat yourself to a gift: LED mini lights are are a smart replacement for traditional mini lights. LED lights are long lasting. The average bulb life for LED mini lights (100,000 hours) is as much as 40 times longer than traditional incandescent Christmas mini lights (2,500 hours). LED lights are safer — because they generate very little heat — they are cool to the touch making them safer when mixing lights with other home decorations. LED string lights are durable because the lights are directly molded to the socket. They’re especially well suited to outdoor use because of their water resistance. Plus with LED string lights, the plastic bulbs are break resistant so you won’t need to spend time testing out bulbs to find the one that is causing the string not to light.

LED mini lights come in variety of shapes as well. You can get LED M6 String Lights with a bulb shape similar to traditional incandescent mini lights, or for a change of pace, small globe shaped LED G12 Mini String Lights make an excellent alternative. Small button-like LED Polka Dot String Lights are also a unique alternative that provides bold illumination with vivid colors in a very small size. Their unique lens shape creates impressively bright wide-angle lighting. LED mini Christmas lights come in a wide variety of colors!

Check out our LED Lighting Guide showing all the sizes and shapes of LED Christmas tree lights.

LED M6 Mini Lights LED G12 String Lights LED Polka Dot String Lights

Battery-Operated String Lights

Sometimes you have a space that is crying out for additional lighting, but have no easy access to an outlet. Battery operated string lights are the perfect solution, and they come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors.

Battery operated mini lights add a decorative touch to an entryway table or mix them with evergreen boughs and other holiday knick-knacks for a well-lit and festive display. Battery operated polka dot string lights are a great option for compact table-top trees or garland on a mantle because of their brighter wide angle lens bulb. They’re also the perfect solution for garland hanging over a doorway or entrance to a room – no outlet needed!

Battery powered Fairy Lights with a tiny dew drop shaped bulb provide a perfect solution for smaller spaces — think small display on the shelf in a guest bath or as part of a holiday centerpiece on your dining room table. And because battery operated string lights are LED bulbs, they provide a lot of light with very little power needed.

Holiday Lighting Guide - Red Head Can Decorate
Source: Redhead Can Decorate

Flameless Candles

Real wax candles provide wonderful ambiance, but they have their downsides as well: they cannot be left unattended and with pillars, they can sometimes burn unevenly, leaving them unsightly and sometimes leaving a mess from overflowing wax. Battery-Operated Flameless Candles are an excellent alternative.

Wax pillar LED flameless candles are battery operated and look very similar to the real thing. With no open flame and no melting wax, they’re much safer and leave no mess. If you have small kids or pets, they make a great, safe alternative for displays on end tables, coffee tables or tabletops. Additionally, their programmable timer makes life even easier since they turn on and off automatically.

For an unexpected look, Outdoor Pillar Flameless Candles make a great outdoor display. Use them worry free in a group on a small table or bench on a front patio or porch along with miniature trees or individually in a lantern. And since these candles also have a built in timer, they’ll automatically turn on and off without you needing to face the elements. They are rain-resistant and have a durable resin construction making them perfect to withstand the winter elements.

Holiday Lighting Guide - North End Loft
Source: The North End Loft
Holiday Lighting Guide - North End Loft
Source: The North End Loft

Centerpiece Lighting

We’ve touched on a variety of centerpiece ideas using flameless candles, mini lights mixed with evergreen boughs, and battery powered lights mixed amongst the holiday table decor. However, one of the more interesting centerpiece trends we’ve seen involves the use of water with various holiday items suspended within; many opt for cuttings of holly with rich green leaves and bright red berries, while others opt for ornaments or holiday colored beads. These types of centerpieces become especially eye catching with a bit of light, especially from within. LED submersible floralytes are specifically designed to be placed in water and really help these types of centerpieces to “pop.”

LED floralyte centerpiece tea light

Light Bases

Another eye catching option is the LED light base. While submersible floralytes are perfect for providing a bit of accent lighting, LED bases are all about the drama. LED bases in either white or color-changeable bulbs are perfect for putting the spotlight under a piece: a holiday vase, an ice sculpture, liquor bottles or a glass decorations. Perfect for a “statement piece” in your holiday decor!

LED Light Base with liquor bottles

Cascading Snowfall Lights

Mini lights and other string lights make for amazing outdoor decor, whether decorating trees in the yard or wrapped around the roofline of your home. But for something completely different, Cascading Snowfall Lights make an elegant and eye-catching addition to your outdoor decor. They’re perfect for hanging under eaves or from the branches of trees where the small pinpoint lights arranged in a ladder pattern give the illusion of falling snow.

LED Snowfall Lights

Novelty Party Lights

Sometimes you want simplicity and elegance … but sometimes you just want to bring out the fun. For the latter, Novelty Party Lights are the perfect solution. With innumerable possible styles and themes, you can make a bold statement — whatever it may be.

Novelty lights are even more fun when you combine related strings to create themed trees. For a beach theme, mix flip flops, palm trees with summer beer bottles or mix beach balls, drink umbrellas and dolphin string lights. If you’re going for more a southwest vibe, chili pepper lights come in an array of colors including red, green, autumn harvest, and more eclectic colors like purple or turquoise!

Holiday Lighting Guide - Simply Devine
Source: Simply Devine
Holiday Lighting Guide - Sand & Sisal
Source: Sand & Sisal

Perhaps you’re more into the food and drink — mix together pizza slices and beer mugs for the man cave or wine glasses and grape clusters for the wine enthusiasts. There are also some more rustic options: linen stars combined with rattan balls and country barn string lights give a more “country” feel to your look.

Novelty lights are also good options for kids’ spaces!

Theme Colored String Lights

Mixing and matching isn’t just for novelty lights. Globe String Lights and Mini Lights come in a wide array of colors and present a great opportunity blend colors, particularly for outdoor displays. Try red and white lights in a spiral wrap around a lamppost for a candy cane effect, or alternate wrapping bushes in red and green colors. You can mix blue and white for a cool winter look or Hanukkah theme. Or for an Americana look, mix together red, white and blue lights.
Theme Colored Globe String Lights

Outdoor Christmas String Lights

For the outdoor holiday and Christmas lighting displays, commercial grade outdoor string lighting provides the ultimate solution for outlining rooftops, draping among trees, following long fence lines, and more! Commercial grade string light cords are available in three socket sizes: Medium, C9 or C7. All sizes provide the heavy duty construction with a weatherproof socket seal designed for outdoor installations. If you aren’t sure how to start, find the bulb style and color you like and pick the cord socket size to match. Or just give us a call for recommendations!

Holiday Lighting Guide - Proactive Landscaping
Source: Proactive Landscaping

Mix It Up!

There’s nothing that says all the strings need to be the same style or size. Mix large bulbs with small bulbs and multi-colors with solids for the ultimate eclectic display. The picture below shows a festive mix of C9 String Light cord with Opaque C9 BulbsLED G12 String Lights, and traditional Mini Christmas Lights. Let your inspiration be your guide this holiday season!

Holiday Lighting Guide - AnaRosa
Source: AnaRosa

When you’re done with your holiday display, we’d love to see it! Email us or post a picture and tag us on Facebook(@partylightscom) or Instagram (@partylights_com).

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