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What are the Different Types of Outdoor Christmas Lights?

Outdoor Christmas lights dazzle in many forms, from classic string lights to icicle strands and animated displays. LED options offer energy efficiency, while solar-powered varieties shine sustainably. Novelty lights add whimsical charm, and projector lights create a dynamic backdrop. Which type will illuminate your holiday spirit? Discover your perfect festive glow and share your favorite in the comments below.
S. McNesby
S. McNesby

Outdoor Christmas lights come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be used to give festive flair to the exterior of the home. Lights can decorate walkways, trees, and garden features in addition to the house itself. From miniature bulbs to giant globes, outdoor lighting has come a long way from the old-fashioned twinkle lights that once adorned homes at Christmastime. Some outdoor Christmas lights feature innovative net and icicle style mountings and LED technology for added impact.

Net lights make it easy to decorate trees and gardens. Outdoor Christmas lights are attached to a fishnet-like web, allowing the homeowner to simply cast the net over a tree or shrub. Using net lights allows the homeowner to avoid the task of wrapping endless strands of lights around each individual tree or plant, making it easy to create an evenly lit display. Christmas lights on a net base are simple to remove as well; they can be peeled away from the plant and stored until needed.

Reindeer Christmas lights in a yard.
Reindeer Christmas lights in a yard.

Adorning the outside of a home with icicle lights allows the homeowner to duplicate the look of natural ice even in warm weather. Outdoor lights are suspended on wire to mimic the look of real icicles. As in nature, the length and thickness of the icicles will vary, creating a pleasing organic appearance. Typically white, icicle lights are best used to accent a roof or the eaves of a home.

House with Christmas lights.
House with Christmas lights.

Classic Christmas lights have seen a resurgence in popularity, though the lights used today are safer and more user-friendly than those from the past. Egg-sized bulbs in bright colors offer a nostalgic and charming appeal without the safety issues of their predecessors. Original outdoor Christmas lights were made from glass, and would burn anyone who touched them. The newer versions are tempered glass or heavy duty plastic and offer the look without the safety issues.

A house decorated with various types of lights.
A house decorated with various types of lights.

Eco-friendly LED lights are relatively late arrivals to the Christmas lighting scene. Just like the LED light bulbs used in homes, outdoor lights with LED bulbs consume far less electricity than their traditional counterparts. Using LED lights to adorn a home is a "green" way to decorate for Christmas. Solar-powered walkway lights and lighted Christmas decorations also work well for the eco-friendly home.

A tangled string of Christmas lights.
A tangled string of Christmas lights.

Adding a touch of fun and whimsy to the outside of a home is easy with novelty Christmas lights. From candy garlands to chains of miniature snowmen, novelty outdoor Christmas lights can be used to add a playful touch to entryways and patios. Novelty lights can be found at specialty retailers and other places where Christmas decorations are sold.

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Discussion Comments


@pastanaga - Personally, I prefer it if most people just stick with Christmas tree lights in the window, so that you get a little flash of magic when you walk or drive past, rather than a big display that basically blinds you as you come around the corner. A little can go a long way, and it can save a lot of electricity bills as well!


@indigomoth - Oh, I don't know, it can be nice when you have a house in the neighborhood that has a large outdoor Christmas lights display. It isn't so great for the person who lives directly next to them, but it's handy for everyone else, since it gives you something to do with the kids in the evening.

I'm a bit of a sucker for creative displays though. I love it when someone goes that little bit of extra mile and creates something unique rather than just going to the store and buying the same old flashing Santa that everyone else on the block has.

When I was growing up, there was someone near us who would make light sculptures with chicken wire every year and that was really exciting.


Icicle lights are really effective, even if they are the only type that you put on your house. My mother had them all along her roof last Christmas and it looked amazing, even though it was apparently very easy to do. She used several sets of white icicle Christmas lights, as well as some flashing blue ones.

I think it's actually quite nice when houses have an understated light display rather than just throwing everything they have out on the roof.

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    • Reindeer Christmas lights in a yard.
      Reindeer Christmas lights in a yard.
    • House with Christmas lights.
      By: Roman Milert
      House with Christmas lights.
    • A house decorated with various types of lights.
      By: dred2010
      A house decorated with various types of lights.
    • A tangled string of Christmas lights.
      By: Artistic Endeavor
      A tangled string of Christmas lights.