How To Choose Outdoor Christmas Decorations

Every year, millions of families adorn their homes with Christmas lights, statues, inflatables, and other seasonal decorations. There are dozens of traditional characters and designs to choose from, and new materials and features allow the decorations to last for years.

Here's what to look for when choosing your outdoor Christmas decorations.

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What Types of Decorations Should I Get?

The choice of Christmas decorations is huge. You can join in on the much-loved Christmas tradition with a simple display or invest in dozens of decorations to entertain your family and friends. Here are the most popular choices:

Christmas light strings

Light strings are a standard addition to front yards in the winter. Although some are simple lines, some have dangling icicle shapes or unique bulb shapes. They add an ethereal feeling to any yard, especially when there is snow on the ground.

Christmas Patio Light String Lighting
Christmas Red String Lights with Garland
Christmas Light LED String Light
Patio Christmas Bulb Light String Lighting
Icicle Christmas Light String Lights
Oval White Light String Lighting

Light-up decorations

Light-up Christmas decorations are a great way to make your display visible at night. This includes figures that are made of plastic or wire with lights inside. Look for figures with LED lights for maximum brightness and energy efficiency.

Reindeer Lighted Christmas Decoration
Twig Tree Christmas Decoration
Christmas Tree Decoration Lighted Display
Snowman Figurine Christmas Light Decoration
Snowman Christmas Decoration Lighting
Moose Decoration Christmas Lighting

Statues

Statues are good for porches or other well-lit areas. They include traditional Santa Claus and elf statues, snowmen, candy canes, Nativity scenes, and more. They can be paired with a spotlight to improve visibility.

Reindeer Christmas Art Statue
Garden Elf Christmas Figurine
Gnome Santa Claus Christmas Statue
Christmas Themed Mailbox Lighted Statue
Red-Nosed Christmas Reindeer Statue
Three Snowman Medium Christmas Statue

Inflatables

Inflatables are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and generally feature cute and funny designs and are often inexpensive to purchase. They do not always stand upright in high wind, but they can be very durable. Some include an air blower, while others require the blower to be purchased separately.

Polar Bear with Penguins Inflatables Decoration
Santa Claus on Motorcycle Inflatable Decoration
Christmas Santa Claus Sleigh Inflatable Decoration
Santa Claus on Christmas Tree Decoration Inflatable
Snowmen Family Inflatable Decoration
Santa Claus Car Inflatable Decoration

Door murals

Front door and garage door murals make a huge statement and can be reused year after year. They are designed to fit over the door without interfering with its operation, so you can attach it once at the beginning of winter and then remove it after Christmas.

Candy Merry Christmas Door Mural
Santas Reindeer Barn Garage Door Mural
Merry Christmas Tree Garage Door Mural
Holy Night Garage Door Mural
Smiling Reindeer Door Mural
Santa Claus with Christmas Gifts Door Mural

Light projectors

LED and laser light projectors can add even more charm to an outdoor display. Projectors can put moving snowflakes, Christmas trees, snowmen, and other cute designs on the side of your house without the need for labor-intensive, time-consuming installation.

Curtain LED Twinkle String Light
Snowman Christmas Decoration Figurine Lighted Display
Christmas Angel Ceramic Outdoor Statue
Christmas Santa Claus Fishing Inflatable
Decorative Christmas 3D Door Mural
Christmas Snowflake Projection Strobe Lights

What Shapes and Characters Should I Get?

Many shapes and characters allow you to express your love of Christmas and spread joy throughout the holiday season.

  • Christmas trees can be highly customized with ornaments and colored lights for a one-of-a-kind decoration.

  • Small wreaths and stars make a great addition to porches and balconies.

  • Santa Claus and reindeer figures are perfect for neighborhoods with lots of children.

  • Light-up snowflakes are great for hanging from trees or the front porch.

  • Snowmen and nutcrackers are classic staples that are an easily recognizable and whimsical addition to traditional or country homes.

  • Nativity scenes are a great way to remind everyone of the religious reason for the season.

  • Less-traditional designs, like penguins and giant Christmas ornaments, make great additions to themed displays.

Green Fir Trees Artificial Christmas Tree
LED Snowflake Lighted Window Décor
Indoor Outdoor Green Regal Nutcracker
Indoor Outdoor Nativity Scene Wooden Figurine

How Should I Pick an Outdoor Decor Theme?

Since there are many Christmas decoration designs, try to stick to a single theme for a more cohesive outdoor display.

Traditional

Traditional outdoor Christmas decorations include nativity scenes, wreaths, trees, and Santa statues. Look for Santas and nativity figures with realistic faces, white Christmas lights, and a large wreath to hang on the front door. A traditional wooden sleigh for Santa can make the front yard stand out.

Traditional designs look great in front of any style of house but work especially well with classic brick or colonial homes. Try to include colors like forest green, red, gold, and white to bring cheer to your front yard. Place small lights along the driveway and front walk to guide guests to your door.

Wall-mounted Nativity Wreath Door Hanger
Freestanding Pine Sleigh Lighted Display
Holy Family Yard Art Set
Freestanding Resin Outdoor Angel Figurine
Outdoor Freestanding Wooden Street Lamp

Contemporary

Colorful characters in cartoon designs can bring your yard to life. If you have children or grandchildren, work with them to pick out decorations like snowmen, candy canes, and cartoon reindeer.

Although white Christmas lights look good in any yard, contemporary Christmas décor can use colored lights for a more multifaceted look. If your house has white brick or siding on the front, place your most colorful décor directly in front for a charming pop of color. Get an LED or laser light projector to add snow or other animations to the display.

For a family-friendly adventure, try creating a theme around a location or character. Try a North Pole theme with elves, gift boxes, and a sleigh. Snowmen and giant light-up snowflakes create a more general winter wonderland theme.

Sledding Snowmen Christmas Outdoor Decoration
Wood Santa Coming to Town Garden Stake
Santa Claus Driving Motorcycle Decoration Inflatable
Christmas Yard Art Decoration Lighted Display

Minimalist

Minimalist Christmas décor relies heavily on string lights and simple lighted wire displays. A minimalist display could include one or two lighted wireframes with color-coordinated string lights over the outline of the house. A colored spotlight over the house and driveway can help set the mood.

Blue is an excellent color for a minimalist display, as it creates a winter atmosphere without having to rely on traditional Christmas symbols. However, green and white lights can also set a festive mood.

LED Standing Reindeer Christmas Lighting Display
Snowflake Cool White LED Lighted Display
Blue Lights Shadow Box Noel Letters
Tree Christmas Decoration Lighted Display

How Large Should My Decorations Be?

The optimal size for your decorations depends on the size of your yard. Homes with large front yards can use almost any decoration. If you have a small front yard, decorations more than 36" high may start to overwhelm the space or block windows.

If you live somewhere subject to high winds and snowstorms, remember that large and lightweight decorations can be blown around and become hazards. Make sure to properly secure decorations or bring them inside the garage if the weather calls for bad storms.

Which Christmas Decoration Materials are the Most Durable?

  • Wireframe light displays are very durable, reusable, and are an excellent choice for all environments. These displays are usually inexpensive.

  • Resin, including polystone resin, can be made to look like stone or wood and is very tough. Resin statues and figures last for decades if cared for properly, so they make fantastic heirloom sets.

  • Inflatables can be durable if they are made of weather-resistant polyester. Make sure to get a blower and electrical cords that are also weather-resistant for outdoor use.

  • Polypropylene is a strong plastic that holds up well in winter cold and snow. It makes an excellent material for lighted snowflakes and other decorations that uses transparent plastic.

Elf Pulling Wagon Lighted Display Set
Joy Nativity Wooden Garden Stake
Big Christmas Illuminated Ornament Ball
Polyester Inflatable Santa and Sleigh Lighted Display
Free Standing Polyethylene Gingerbread Figure

What Christmas Decorations Should I Put on My House?

  • The house itself is a great place to put Christmas lights. They can make even small homes look magical and are well worth the time and energy to put up.

  • Put a wreath or door mural on your front door to welcome guests and consider a garage door mural to make your house really pop.

  • Garlands and weatherproof plastic bows make great additions to porch railings, window planters, and balconies.

  • For an even more impressive display, put a Santa and reindeer display or a light-up angel on the roof. The added dimension to your display will wow the neighbors and create great Christmas memories for years to come.

Are Outdoor Christmas Decorations Safe?

Outdoor Christmas decorations are designed to be waterproof and safe to use outside. Buy decorations that have cords that are rated for outdoor use and use protective boxes or wrapping for added safety. Indoor decorations should never be used outdoors since their electronics are not weather-resistant.

Take care when placing decorations on the roof. Read manufacturer instructions carefully, as some wireframes may be too heavy for safe rooftop use. Never place anything near a chimney or vent. Inflatables should never be set on rooftops, as they can get caught in the wind and blow away.

What Kinds of Christmas Decorations Work for Small Homes or Apartments?

Decorating townhouses or apartments can be a challenge, but there are plenty of options for you – light-up decorations like string lights and garlands can be hung on a balcony or window planters. Coordinate with neighbors to create an immersive wonderland in the front yard of the apartment block.

Also, look for small statues, bows, and plastic candy canes that can be placed on front porches. If your porch is well-covered, you won't need to worry about rain or snow damaging the finish.

Quick Tips:

  • Outdoor Christmas decorations include string lights, light-up statues and wireframes, inflatables, door murals, light projectors, and much more.
  • Lighted decorations are convenient for nighttime use, but non-lighted decorations can still be used with a spotlight.
  • Think outside the box for Christmas decorations. In addition to traditional figures like Santa Claus and the Nativity, look for snowmen and penguins.
  • Decorations are available in traditional and cartoon-inspired designs. Try to stick to one theme when constructing a yard display. You can also try a minimalist display that relies mainly on lights and colors to set a mood.
  • Decorations should be large enough to catch the eye, but not large enough to be a hazard if they blow away. Also, be careful not to block front windows with tall displays.
  • Outdoor Christmas decorations are safe when used as directed. Only buy outdoor-rated, weather-resistant decor. Never use indoor Christmas decorations outside.
  • Avoid placing heavy items on rooftops and keep all decor away from chimneys and vents.
  • Townhouses and apartments can still get in on the fun. Look for small decorations that can be attached to balconies or window planters, or that can be placed on front doors and porches.