How to decorate your home with Christmas lights this year

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India Price,-Contributing Editor

Been decorating your home the same way for decades? How about switching it up – starting with where (and how) you hang your Christmas lights.

It might seem obvious, but decorating with Christmas lights can be a lot more difficult (and creative) than you might think. First of all, let’s talk about the power of the fairy light for a moment. Even if you’re not actually that into Christmas, there’s no denying that a whole lot of fairy lights can look epic. And while Christmas trends tend to come and go as quickly as the day itself, Christmas lights are timeless. You’ll use them year after year, even if you don’t get an actual tree. Here are some ideas for how to see the light this year.

Outdoors (anywhere goes…)

Whether you have a garden, a patio, a balcony or a window box, putting your lights outside is an undeniably festive way to do things – especially since it gets dark at midday. Forget the over-the-top multi-coloured-lights-and-decorations-everywhere homes that a lot of people are levelling up to lately and instead think about subtle rows of fairy lights wherever you can. Got a tree in your garden? Add some lights. A shed? Pop some lights along the roof. A window box that died a death after summer’s heatwave? Wrap it in lights. No outdoor space whatsoever? Dress your windows – add hanging lights from curtain poles or hang traditional lights in window frames, both look great. The joy that a sprinkling of light will give you on a cold night in December is unlike much else, even if it’s the only decorating you do this year.

As a wreath

Wreaths and Christmas go together like pigs in their blankets, but if you’re looking to turn things up a notch this year, why not experiment with making a wreath out of fairy lights? Maximalists might want to look away because this is a super-simple (but very effective) way to decorate with Christmas lights – and not a flower in sight. Obviously you could cheat and just buy a wreath made of lights, but that won’t bring the same satisfaction as making it yourself. Simply get some chicken wire and mould it into your chosen shape and size before wrapping battery-powered lights round and round until you have the desired design. Feeling fancy? Add a few different types of lights to give a mixed-and-matched effect.

On shelves

There’s nothing quite like decorating the entire home, but if you’re sick of dropped pine needles or can’t quite get on board with tinsel, adding single rows of fairy lights to any shelf or mantelpiece gives a timeless and elegant effect that will also help create a calm and ambient atmosphere through any room. Try replicating this throughout your home to create symmetry and, hey, you might love it so much you ‘forget’ to take some of them down after 6 January.

Up the bannisters (if you have them)

Got stairs at home? Wrap some Christmas lights around the bannister. A note: make sure you have battery-operated lights before you start – otherwise you’ll spend a lot of time wrapping around, only to realise you don’t have a plug nearby. Much like adding lights onto shelves, fairy lights on bannisters create a super-calm and ambient effect and look glorious when the main lights are turned low and their soft sparkle takes over.

On your indoor plants

If none of the above tickle your fancy but you’re an indoor-plant parent, wrapping them from root to leaf in fairy lights is a great idea. ‘If you’re tight on space and don’t have room for a tree or any other kind of decorations, create a warm and cosy atmosphere by adding lights to your indoor plants,’ Ellie Allen, home design stylist at John Lewis, suggests. ‘It adds a really festive vibe to any room, however big or small.’

Holly Rains, John Lewis The Edit senior editor, adds, ‘While the Christmas tree is often the main event in the living room, I like to show the indoor plants some love at Christmas and drape thin strips of white fairy lights over the bigger varieties. Bird-of-paradise plants work well for this, along with oversized spider plants, or you could even weave lights loosely through English ivy (a very forgiving plant). That way, your Christmas lighting can carry on throughout the house, and the magic isn’t confined to just one room.’

Light up your tree

When it comes to the main event of decorating your Christmas tree, we decided to call in the expert. Ellie Allen says: ‘First of all, make sure you have two sets of lights – this makes all the difference and means you can have a wonderful backdrop for all of your baubles to be the real showstoppers. One thing I like to do on Christmas trees is to wrap the first set of lights up the spine of the tree for that inner glow, and then work your way out of the branches. Placing some lights closer to the front in a zigzag pattern creates both depth and a delicate warmth. It’s also quite a unique idea to wrap the second set of lights around the base of the tree, within the skirt, so that the tree really is glowing from top to bottom.’

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