Are you thinking of decorating the exterior of your house for this year’s Christmas holidays? It’s a trend that’s been growing for some years now, and new innovative lighting designs can be used to great effect to give your home a special and unique Christmas feel.

A few words of caution though, before you let your creative juices run away with you: safety is paramount.

First, electricity needs to be handled with respect. Make sure the lights you wish to install are specifically for outdoor use, and don’t be tempted to overload your electrical sockets – it’s dangerous and can cause a fire. LED lights are best, not only because they are more energy efficient and need less wattage than traditional incandescent bulbs, but also for their beautifully clear, crisp light output. 

 Christmas Decorating

Secondly, putting up and taking down outdoor Christmas lights on a building comes with a fair degree of personal risk. Are you working off a simple household ladder? If you do, make sure it’s in good condition and a stable position on a firm and flat surface. Also, it’s advisable to always work in pairs, so you have someone assisting you – two pairs of hands are safer than one. For high roofs, rooftops or other elevated areas, ladders are unlikely to be the right solution. You may be better off hiring a scaffold platform or tower, or even a cherry picker. The last thing you need this Christmas is a nasty accident.

With the essential safety concerns addressed, are you ready to add some festive fun and magic to the outside of your home? Here are 5 design considerations and decorating tips to help you make your home truly Christmassy.

1.       Highlight the building’s architectural features

When installing lights to the front elevation of your house, always start at the centre and work your way outwards to the sides. Look at interesting architectural details of the building to see what can be highlighted in the design scheme. Gables, rooflines, chimneys, arches, windows or similar features lend themselves particularly well. 

Combine horizontal and vertical features to achieve the perfect balance. Rather than covering the entire house in lights, perhaps pick out the roof outline up to the gable peak and down again, then highlight the front door outline to create a simple yet effective festive aesthetic.

2.       Create a professional, three dimensional effect

Whatever you do, it needs to really impress, especially at Christmas – so don’t skimp on lighting; the thicker your lighting garlands are, the more effective the result will be. Use large, bright LED bulbs spaced properly and evenly, every 30cm or so, and include cutbacks so that your house doesn’t appear two dimensional. Make sure the length is just right; you should have a bulb positioned right at the top of the apex, and no overhanging lights at the bottom – otherwise it just looks messy.

3.       Don’t forget to decorate your trees

Beautifully decorated trees add impact, especially when they frame the house. There are two techniques you can use to light up your trees in the front garden. Spiral/canopy wrapping encircles the entire tree (perfect for conifers), while trunk & branch wrapping highlights the main branches and emphasises the structure of the tree (ideal for deciduous trees). Both can look wonderful, as can mixing and matching the two.

4.       Classic white or colourful fun?

Whether you go for the traditional Christmas favourite all-white look or have fun with some on-trend colour is entirely up to your personal taste. This year, one of the popular colour schemes to emerge is a very festive combination of red, green and white. Then again, other colour contrasts can work well too – try silver and gold, or green and blue perhaps, to create an effective and unusual wow factor for your Christmas home.

5.       Add extra decorations to set the scene

For a bolder look, you can give your front garden a Christmas theme with the addition of festive characters – Father Christmas, reindeer, snowmen or penguins, angels and stars, or a nativity scene? The shops are now full of inspiration, with all kinds of fun characters and wonderful light designs to choose from – go and have a look.

Finally, complement your outdoor Christmas light display with some lush greenery to add an extra festive touch to your exterior decorations. Evergreen wreaths or garlands (either real or artificial) can be trimmed with ribbons, ornaments and lights to provide enchanting accents for windows and doors.

Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer working alongside a selection of companies including MC Property Maintenance, who were consulted over this post.