Outdoor Christmas decoration ideas – 9 festive looks for the garden, porch and more

These outdoor Christmas decoration ideas will help you create the most eye-catching, welcoming exterior

A decorated front garden
(Image credit: Future)

If you're looking for outdoor Christmas decoration ideas, then look no further. This time of the year is all about going overboard on the decor, with festive decorating spilling out the door and into our front gardens. It's a time of year to bedeck your front door with wreaths, get crafty with Christmas creations, string fairy lights through your garden planters, place cute garden Christmas trees along the driveway, and enjoy all the maximalism that the season has to offer. 

'With shorter days and often dreary weather, nothing chases away the winter doldrums quicker than a program of holiday lights at Christmas time,' says Kat Aul Cervoni, landscape designer and founder of Staghorn NYC and The Cultivation by Kat.

To get you into the festive spirit, we've gathered together our favorite festive Christmas decorating ideas to inspire you creatively.

Outdoor Christmas decoration ideas for inspiration

1. Decorate your door with a bountiful wreath

A Christmas wreath

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

The front porch is prime real estate when it comes to Christmas decor. All your guests will see it, as will your neighbors, so you want your front door to be looking as magical as the decorations that lie behind it. 

'Christmas wreaths are probably my favorite bit of outdoor Christmas decor because it’s such a quick and easy way to add a bit of color and cheer to your home, just with a quick Christmas door decorating idea,' says Kat of Staghorn NYC and The Cultivation by Kat.

'I like hanging them on a front door (double doors too) so that guests will be able to enjoy it each time they come home. Wreaths come in a large variety of styles and sizes from lush bundles of fragrant evergreens, pinecones and berries, to a more minimalist boxwood style.'

Get creative with your wreath – you can easily forge a piece of wire into a wreath shape and go foraging in the garden. Pick up garlands of greenery, twigs and leaves and weave them into the frame using garden wire. The final pop comes with faux or dried elements. 'Fruit, berries and seed pots add texture and character, while ribbon adds a pop of color and glamor,' says Kat. 'Finally, I love adding wireless lights to my wreaths which can be turned on via remote control for a delightful bit of twinkle to alight your door after dark.'

Red berry Christmas wreath by Amazon
Deck the halls

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If you don't quite have the time to get crafty this year, this beautiful wreath on Amazon will do the trick, popping with bright red berries against verdant green to give that classic Christmas color combo

2. Go for the classic look with a simple garland

Outdoor fireplace decorated for Christmas

(Image credit: Marie Flanigan)

Draping a garland around an outdoor feature is a great minimalist Christmas decor idea, and a good way to bring some festive greenery to the outdoors in a more subtle and refined way. Just as it’s used on our mantles and banisters indoors, the evergreen garland is a lovely way to add holiday spirit to your home's exterior. 

Use a mix of pine, fir, cedar and magnolia to frame doorways and wrap around handrails and entry gates, or create a Christmas fireplace as seen here. It also works well wrapped around a lamp post and columns if your home has them. 'Velvety red ribbon gives a gorgeous pop of color if incorporated into the wrapping and string or fairy lights ensure the decor can be enjoyed after sunset,' adds Kat.

Extra Large Cypress Garland from Target&nbsp;
Go for a garland

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You don't have to go foraging for your Christmas garland. This extra-long one from Target is faux foliage but gives the same look, and can get put up in the loft for next year's festivities.

3. Take your Christmas entertaining outside

Outdoor Christmas dining

(Image credit: Petersham Nurseries)

We aren't necessarily advising you to do your whole Christmas dinner al fresco here, nor are we saying you should move your Christmas living room to the garden, but on a cold, crisp night, it's a good idea to give your outdoor furniture set up a festive spruce with throws and cushions, and candles, or get your guests to wrap up warm for a hot toddy around the fire pit. 

'Don't forget your outdoor space during the Christmas period,' says Suzy Humphreys, founder of Layered Lounge. Whether it's a view from your dining room or an outdoor experience you want to create, keep your festoon lighting up from summer through winter. Keep a stash of throws at the back door in a stylish rattan basket to grab and keep you warm during the chilly afternoons/early evenings.'

It's a great place to demonstrate your Christmas tablescape abilities too. 'Christmas is a time to indulge and create a wondrous, warm welcome for family and friends,' says Stefan Ormenisan, creative director of MINDTHEGAP.

'Layer prints, patterns and color together to create a tablescape that is festive and also functional,' says Stefan. 'A beautiful patterned tablecloth in a traditionally Christmassy colour will provide the canvas to artfully arranged napkins and place settings. Get creative with Christmas crafts like little treats wrapped as presents with a name tag, or Christmas tree decorations adorning each plate, making the perfect host for place names.’ 

5. Fill your trees with fairy lights

Garden lit up for Christmas with lights from IKEA

(Image credit: IKEA)

Another for the Christmas checklist is to fill your hedges and trees with fairy lights for an unbeatable look. Colorful lights bring a playful look to your garden, but there is nothing more magical than a cool white or soft golden glow.  

'Festoon lights add a twinkling magical atmosphere that no other light seems to bring; they instantly transform a garden, creating a welcoming glow,' says award-winning landscape designer Georgia Lindsay. 'We added bespoke powder-coated cantilevered posts to a project in west London to enable the lights to be positioned directly over the seating area.'

Our only piece of advice when it comes to going all out with fairy lights is to ensure they are all the same hue. You instantly notice if your lights are different and it will throw off that cohesive look. 

Also remember to buy lights for exterior setting and ensure they are fully waterproof and rated IP44 or above. A robust 'add-on' system which allows more lights to be connected is ideal allowing you to extend the lights if necessary. 'Bulbs on a warm white spectrum add a golden glow and are much more welcoming than the cooler shades,' adds Georgia.

Battery powered fairylights by Amazon
Christmas magic

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String lights made of bendable wire, perfect for winding around a porch frame or through a wreath to add some extra sparkle to your garden decor.

5. Add a touch of Yuletide magic to a porch seat

A Christmas bench

(Image credit: Bees Knees Interiors)

If you have a small porch to play with, why not add to the set-up with some festive soft furnishings? It provides a great spot for visitors to take a seat for a glass of mulled wine in the garden, and is an easy outdoor Christmas idea that can be executed with a garland or a couple of cushions. 

String the garland through the back frame of the seating, as per this example by Bees Knees Interiors, and welcome guests throughout the season.

6. Light up your entrance with plenty of lanterns

Traditional door lit by lanterns from The White Company

(Image credit: The White Company)

For a more minimal approach to doorstop decor, be inspired by this classic look and simply line your steps or porch with an array of lanterns. Mix and match the sizes and styles to make them more of a feature and dot in some mini trees too if you want to make it extra festive. Candlelight makes a beautiful modern garden lighting idea, but If real candles aren't the safest option for your home, switch them for outdoor LED lighting that still give off that lovely glow but don't burn down and are much safer than a real flame. 

Alternatively, use the lanterns as festive containers. 

'Whether you opt for a simple mix of evergreens (boxwood and ivy are a gorgeous combo) or incorporate bright seasonal annuals like cyclamen and heather, jazzing up a container or two around your home’s front entry is a perfect way to decorate for the holidays,' says Kat. 'My favorite combination includes dwarf evergreen shrubs, fragrant evergreen boughs and bright red berries for lush, textural display.'

12 inch decorative metal lantern by Target
All aglow

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Fill with candles or decorative foliage and group in three or more leading up to your doorway for a tasteful festive look.

7. Keep it minimal but festive with wintery branches

Dark blue door with white metal wreath

(Image credit: James Merrell)

While less is more is not a term we use or encourage when it comes to festive flourishes, there is something to be said about a chic, minimalist approach. As this Christmas door idea proves, sometimes all you need is a beautifully colored door, a white wreath and a collection of snow-encrusted twigs and dried cotton stems.

It's a look you could so easily recreate too. Get foraging in your garden for a cluster of branches and twigs and either leave them bare or give them a quick spray with glitter to up the holiday vibes. 

8. Bring Christmas trees outdoors 

A Christmas door with two trees in front of it

(Image credit: Future)

Because Christmas trees aren't just for living rooms, they can look just as lovely propped up in a porch or framing an entryway. They can add a magical touch to a back yard too – try surrounding your outdoor dining table with spruce trees or adding some festive cheer to your back door by positioning a tree either side, then just string with fairy lights to create a cozy grotto feel. 

We love the idea of investing in a collection of potted spruce or fir trees this year that you can use for decoration Christmas after Christmas, stylish and sustainable. Just be careful when putting lights on your Christmas tree, and make sure they are safe for outdoor weather.

9. Light your windows from within

Dobbies Garden Centres Christmas Lighting 2018

(Image credit: Dobbies Garden Centres)

There's something so lovely and cozy about a glowing window at Christmas; one that invites you in with its warm and welcoming light. So while the door may be such a focus when it comes to Christmas decor, be sure to adorn your windows too. Stringing up lights is the easiest of Christmas window lighting ideas and instant makes a home look festive, but light in the windows from with in too but candles of decorations so they really shine.

'Your front windows can sometimes be forgotten about when it comes to Christmas décor as we always focus on the front door and whilst we are not saying to forgo this, a front window can really create that inviting feeling, and be another easy surface to transform for Christmas.' says Sue Barnes founder and creative director at Lavender Green Flowers.

'If your front door wreath is something that you always look forward to putting up, mirror this aesthetic in your windows, and a smaller complementing wreath is ideal! Whether this is hanging on the outside, or inside facing out, bear in mind height, light, and fragrance.' says Sue.

How can you decorate the outside of your house for Christmas?

The easiest way to decorate the outside of your house for Christmas is with lights. They are simple, stylish and so effective. String them around your windows, from the roof, in the trees...really you can never have too many! 

And of course, there's the classic wreath, which no door should be without at Christmas. Why not hang them at your windows too? Opt for a pre-lit design or string lights through your DIY wreath to add even more of a glow to the front of your home. 

Hebe Hatton

Hebe is the Digital Editor of Livingetc; she has a background in lifestyle and interior journalism and a passion for renovating small spaces. You'll usually find her attempting DIY, whether it's spray painting her whole kitchen, don't try that at home, or ever changing the wallpaper in her hallway. Livingetc has been such a huge inspiration and has influenced Hebe's style since she moved into her first rental and finally had a small amount of control over the decor and now loves being able to help others make decisions when decorating their own homes. Last year she moved from renting to owning her first teeny tiny Edwardian flat in London with her whippet Willow (who yes she chose to match her interiors...) and is already on the lookout for her next project.

With contributions from