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.
http://www.juliahourietcustomgardening.com Julia is a professional landscape designer and gardener practicing in and around Boston. Helping people enjoy living life outdoors is a full time passion. Christmas lights are one of the best things about winter!
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