The holiday season is the time when families bundle up, pile into their cars, and drive around taking in all the glimmering holiday lights. But don’t forget: While onlookers are cruising through your neighborhood, they’re not just marveling at the animatronic reindeer. They’re also sizing up your curb appeal. After all, it’s impossible for them to say “Ooh!” and “Aah!” at all your great outdoor Christmas lights ideas without first noticing how well you maintain the front of your house. Many of us entertain guests throughout the season, and it's imperative that you welcome them with the proper presence out front.

Many neighborhoods have outdoor Christmas light decoration contests. In these cases, it’s important to maximize the holiday potential of your home’s outdoor space. То set up the best and most impressive Christmas decorations in your neighborhood, you’ll need a plan and should first organize a few great outdoor Christmas lights ideas. It’s always a great time to gather inspiration to get you started on decorating your home.

large outdoor christmas ornaments

Whether you’re trying to woo prospective buyers or impress the judges in a Christmas decorating contest, it’s essential to keep your house looking its best during the holidays. Luckily, with all the decor opportunities that go hand-in-hand with the holiday season, it’s easier than ever to keep the exterior of your home in tip-top shape. Here are a few steps for how to decorate outdoors for Christmas on a budget so you will have plenty of money and time leftover for gifts and celebrations.

First Thing’s First: Preparing for Outdoor Decorations

No matter how many lights, wreaths, garlands, or other cute Christmas knick-knacks you slap on your house, it won’t disguise a failing facade. In fact, overloading your home with eye-catching decorations can actively draw attention to those aspects you’d rather keep hidden if you’re not careful. So before you start going full Clark Griswold, you should ensure you have all the fundamentals down pat.

If you live in a climate that still offers warm and dry days this time of year, take a long, hard look at your home’s paint job. Are chips flaking off in the corners? Have the vivid colors faded to a washed-out pallor? If so, the single best thing you can do is get out the paint cans and get to work. People tend to assume that do-it-yourself house painting is an expensive, laborious process. But in reality, with a dedicated effort you can be shucking off your crusty painting jeans in just 2-3 days. If you’re too time-strapped even for that, consider just touching up your siding, or brighten up your front door. Most exterior paint will only run you around $30 a gallon, and if done right, is a weekend project that gives results you can enjoy for a decade or more.

Even if you’re not ready to paint your home, you should still give the exterior a thorough cleaning. Pick up a simple siding cleaning kit from your local hardware store for cheap. These can attach straight to your hose, brush and all, and supply your stream of garden hose water with a cleanser for those tough-to-scrub areas. If you want to get serious, rent a power washer for a day, and really cut into those dirt stains. Turn it onto the sidewalk and feel the satisfaction of obliterating those blotchy little spots that have sat stubbornly on the pavement for as long as you can remember. After rinsing everything down, you’ll be amazed at how much newer your home will look.

Basic Christmas Decorating Tips

Christmas decorations can be as simple or as elaborate as you want them to be, but oftentimes, when it comes to curb appeal, less is more. If you’re wanting to keep it tight and tasteful, start with your front porch. Grab a few garlands and wrap them around your porch posts, and along the balustrade. Hang a simple wreath with a nice bow that compliments the color scheme on your front door. Even something as basic as a holiday welcome mat can go a long way in creating an impression for visitors.

christmas decorations for a homeTo make your porch really pop from all the way out on the street, it’s best to do a mix of textures, shapes, and complementary colors. Whenever you add a new decoration, go out to the sidewalk and see if it fits. You need to be ruthless; You may love that antique sleigh, but does it really go with those oversized bulb ornaments?

Consistency is Key

Before you get up on the roof and start putting up the Christmas lights, examine your fixtures. A lot of people like to go with alternating red and green light bulbs for their garage and porch lights. But in the wrong hands, these can create a dark, uninviting walkway. They can work, but whatever you do, make sure it all matches, and that it genuinely looks good, rather than just Christmasy.

Now, if you’re up to it, it’s time to put up the holiday lights. Use our handy guide to hanging Christmas lights here to learn everything you need to know about this sometimes daunting task. The key is to take your time and avoid cutting corners whenever possible. When those lights switch on and blast out into the street, any section where something is hanging down or improperly spaced will be glaringly obvious. To make your lights really pop, you don’t have to go crazy. A few high-quality, well-placed strands will always beat out a haphazard overload of blinding colors. Though, of course, if you’re more of an enthusiast, go all-out! Just keep these basics in mind.

christmas porch decorations

Putting Together Your Outdoor Christmas Display

Once everything’s clean, your front door is looking Santa-ready. Your lights are finally all in place, you’re all set to coast into the holiday season looking like the most festive folks in town. Hook up your lights to a timer, and set it to turn on just before the sunsets. It’s an insider secret; Most people turn them on after it gets dark. But lighting them up during “golden hour” can give your home a warm, welcome glow.

Once your display is assembled, you might want to take a few pictures to impress your friends and family that live a little farther away. Taking photos of Christmas lights with your phone camera is often tricky. For best results, you may need a DSLR or similar camera, equipped with a tripod and zoom lens. You’ll need to carefully manage your camera’s shutter speed and ISO to develop photos that have a more professional appearance. Check out our helpful guide on how to take pictures of Christmas lights for more information.

Now that your work is done, sit back and enjoy your fresh-faced home, knowing that even your snootiest relatives will change their tune. Just make sure not to rest on your laurels for too long. After all, there’s shopping to do.

Where to Buy Outdoor Christmas Decorations

Christmas Designers is happy to provide you with all your Christmas lighting and decorating needs this season. We have a wide selection of colorful and creative lighting options that will give your indoor or outdoor decorations a boost this season.

Check out our blog and YouTube channel for more decorating tips and more Christmas recommendations!