More Outdoor Christmas Decorating Ideas! Classic VS Pinterest.

That’s right, more ideas for outdoor decorating because there is a chance that your front and backyards will be the farthest  you travel from home this holiday season. So for your own mental health, I think you should make your Covid compound as nice as possible.

Ontario worker's cottage swagged with garland for Christmas, surrounded by a white picket fence

I think this post is a really good example of the difference between classic Christmas decorating and a trendier look. Or as I call it “Pinteresty”. You know the look. Everything just so, and perfectly placed. A pair of clean Hunter boots standing at attention by the front door even though everyone knows if you pulled your rubber boots off by the front door they’d go windmilling across the street and land in a tree the second the suction released. 

The only reason they don’t do that when you take them off in your house is because there are walls to stop them.

Over the years I’ve dabbled in both looks, classic & Pinterest, but it’s the classic look that I always go back to. 

Classic Christmas Elements

  • Garland (extra points for live)
  • Red bows
  • Lights
  • Wreath
  • Magnolia leaves (more so in southern areas)

Having said all that, these Christmas planters I’m going to show you how to make are classic, but with a bit of an update.

Classic Christmas Planters

What makes these different than your average classic Christmas planters are the bottomless glass boxes I made to go in the centre of them. I’ve done this particular type of planter a couple of times over the years.

The glass box is just 4 panes of thin glass (thin glass is less likely to break from changes in temperature) that’s been siliconed into a square.  I outline how to do it in my post on how to make a personal tabletop fire pit.



Two black gates decorated for Christmas with swagged garland, red bows and small wreaths with urns in front.

During the month of December the glass boxes hold battery operated candles that come on at dusk and go out at midnight. The glass around them reflects the light so it looks like it’s dancing around.


If you like this idea enough that you’re already thinking you’d like to do it, take this advice about the candles: Buy candles that hold C cell batteries. Most battery operated candles require AA batteries, which aren’t as strong. This means that they’re nice and bright for the first week or so and then they quickly start to dim. By the end of the month they’ll still work, but they’ll be a lot dimmer than there were at the beginning of the month.

To combat this, use candles that work with bigger batteries.  C cells will maintain enough power to keep the candles bright for much longer.

This is one of the few C cell battery operated candles on Amazon right now. It’s also made of resin and not wax which means it won’t melt in the sun.

On Christmas Eve before my guests are about to arrive ( which is always precisely 1 hour after the time they were supposed to arrive) I swap out the candles for FIRE.

Christmas planters with square glass hurricanes and fire inside.

The flames are indeed real fire. I use gel cans specifically made for gel fireplaces. If you’re in Canada you can get those for around $6 each at your local Canadian Tire or here in the United States.

If you’re looking for something spectacular for your planters, you can’t get much more welcoming and spectacular than two fire pit planters flanking your door.

Modern planter with classic greenery.

Just because your planter is modern doesn’t mean you have to put a modern arrangement in it. 

A modern black rectangular, low profil planter is filled with a classic arrangement of cedar, pine and spruce boughs.

The shapes of the planter and outdoor light are modern, but the greenery is very traditional. And I like it. I’ve done more modern greenery arrangements in this planter by my back door but for my 1840 house is just feels a bit too stark.

Ikea Christmas wreath with a single battery operated candle in the centre with burlap bow.


More battery operated candles, because they exist and a real candle would burn your house down. Everybody likes candlelight but nobody likes running into swarthy firefighters in their front yard while wearing their pajamas.

One of the most classic Christmas decorations is a candle inside a wreath.  It took a bit of glue and wire to get the candle to stay in place and upright but it worked.  All evidence of the bumpy mess underneath is covered up with a burlap bow.

I will be wearing a burlap bow on my ass by the end of Covid.


Now is where we’re getting into Pinterest territory. The look is still pretty classic, but with nod to your gold plated Pinterest scrolling finger.

A Pinterest Christmas

White front porch on brick house decorated with Christmas garland and red bows.


It’s hard to define what exactly makes things seem Pintersty but one thing is putting items where they probably wouldn’t be in real life. Like a blanket on a wicker chair in the middle of winter. Do I ever sit out on the chair in the middle of winter, huddled under my Hudson’s Bay Blanket? No I do not.

Hudsons Bay Blanket lays artfully across a natural wicker chair on a front porch at Christmas.

And even if I did have a blanket outside for huddling under while holding a steaming cup of Green (too 1990’s),  Roiboos (too early 2000s),  Matcha tea, the blanket would be more rumpled. 

Now looking back on it, this feels way too set up for me now. But I liked it then. If I did it again, like I said, I’d make things look more lived in. Not so perfect. Not so Pinterest.

An old oak wine barrel is filled with birch branches, magnolia leaves, pine and cedar branches.

Birch branches gathered from a fallen tree at the cottage a decade ago. I’m over using any birch branches or logs for Christmas decorating but for some reason I still like it when they’re outside of businesses. Just not my house.



Up next is where I reallyyyyyy throw down with Pinterest.

A framed chalkboard leans against a brick wall with a wood crate filed with birch logs, cedar and pinecones; old fashioned, big bulb lights intertwined around everything.

Chalkboard lettering? ✅ Vintage bulb lights? ✅  Wood crate? ✅  Birch logs? ✅  

That’s the 2012 Pinterest trifecta PLUS a bonus one.  The thing is – I do think it looks cute. And maybe that’s the problem with me and Pinterest decorating.  Everything is cute. It’s appropriate and perfect and doesn’t reflect any of the down and dirty aspects of real life.

Not that classic Christmas decorating screams, Shit, I have to renew my driver’s license, drive the kids to hockey and clean up all the dog poop in the backyard, it just doesn’t give me the feeling that it denies those things exist.

And that concludes my philosophical discussion of the existence of soul in classic Christmas decorating versus Pinterest.

Wow, I bet you’re soooooo sick of reading about this topic, I mean EVERYONE is writing about it. 🙄😂


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More Outdoor Christmas Decorating Ideas! Classic VS Pinterest.


  1. Dona Bowien says:

    I’ve been a little busy and I am just now getting the chance to read this article! Love it. But especially like the chair and blanket idea. My two chairs on the front of my house are not very Christmassy with their burnt orange cushions and the blue and white snow flake pillow look out of place, so Christmas blanket or throw hunting I will go! Thanks and Merry Christmas!

  2. Anne Duany Whyte says:

    Inspired! I just stuck the branches we trimmed off the bottom of the xmas tree into a black urn on the front porch. Told my husband I did more “decorating” an hour ago. He’s still looking…

  3. Brenda Near says:

    This might actually be the year you will sit under a blanket outside…that’s how we are doing Christmas this year, outside on straw bales under blankets! Also around the outdoor fire pit we put in this summer.
    Loved the Pinterest versus traditional and whether one denies life exists.
    I am swinging between bah humbug and maybe going all out this year. I am generally Christmas crazy but trying to be different this year since it is different.

  4. Suzanne says:

    I feel that Christmas decorating on Instagram and blogs in general the last couple of years has been all about white and perfect. It is truly lovely to look at but really where is the joy? Im sorry but this year after being in my house for months on end I’m CRAVING COLOR!! I want colored Christmas lights, I’ve put out every Christmas bit I own. As I opened each Christmas tub I smiled that I was going to be looking at something that brought joy into my life and truly made me happy. Obviously I’ve been locked up for way to long. I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas.

  5. LOIS M BARON says:

    When I saw those glass boxes, I thought they were just another Covid protective measure, because… why not? Love the real fire. I love fire. Firemen are pretty hot too.

    • whitequeen96 says:

      Yeah, I don’t know what Karen is talking about when she said “. . . nobody likes running into swarthy firefighters in their front yard while wearing their pajamas.” If I could arrange it without my house being on fire, I’d love it! Oh, and I’d wear a silk negligee!

  6. Laura McEachern Bart says:

    Yes, everyone IS writing about this subject. Butt, (with burlap bow) after I read your take on the whole Christmas decorating deal and I’m happily done. Is that “one and done?” Thank you. Thank you for the bright light (C-Battery or Gel) in this Deep and Dark December. Mr. Simon and Mr. Garfunkel = clairvoyant.
    “I am a rock
    I am an island
    I have my books
    And my poetry to protect me
    I am shielded in my armor
    Hiding in my room, safe within my womb
    I touch no one and no one touches me”

  7. Liz says:

    Thank you for this article that made me feel liberated! What you call ‘Pinterest’ I often find ‘impractical’. Thanks again!

  8. Joanne says:

    I love your comment about including items that wouldn’t normally be there. That is true Instagram decorating. Another is having decorations in a place that would be in the way if you actually lived in that room. IG sets the bar so high!


    Karen, you are such a blessing. The joy you bring by making us laugh out loud is truly appreciated. I too have learned the hard way about larger size batteries in candles. Merry Christmas!

  10. Linda J Howes-Smyth says:

    I’d be bringing that blanket inside and putting something much less “attractive” out. Didn’t you lose a beautiful sled from your porch? Risky business leaving that out there.

  11. Katie Kirkpatrick says:

    The burlap on my ass by the end of COVID made me laugh. Thank you for that.

  12. Karen says:

    OK, I failed chemistry & physics, is there never a problem with the cold glass & hot gel flame?
    Ditto as other discerning readers have mentioned running into swarthy firemen preferably without pj’s on doesn’t sound all that bad and, love, love all burlap & bows. Keep it coming Karen it helps us thru this very long covid-19 pandemic.

    Keep it Canadian , my CT rubber boots, maple leaf on the bottom & Made In Canada ( how rare these days) love, love them , slip them on & off without bending, no suction grab, even not bad in arch support, pretty good treads, rubber soles, did I mention light . $22.00ca, no Bogs or Hunters for me if I can get a great boot this cheap. another Karen

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen! Glass breaks from extreme temperature changes. So if you held a hot flame to an ice cold piece of glass. As long as the glass is far enough away from the flame you’re O.K. Also thinner glass is actually *less* likely to break from thermal changes than thicker glass. ~ karen!

    • Gigi says:

      What are these beautiful boots you speak of?

  13. Linda in Illinois says:

    “Keep it simple” is what I like. A nice lit star in the window and greenery here and there with your favorite ornaments. Love your decorations.

  14. Jan Avery says:

    “….I will be wearing a burlap bow on my ass by the end of Covid.” Now THAT’S funny. Will you be hot-gluing it on, or gorilla-taping it on? Either way will probably leave a mark…

  15. Christine Hilton says:

    Speak for yourself! I would love nothing more than swarthy firemen running around my front yard.l even refer to their trucks as the candy wagons.

  16. Susan says:

    “…nobody likes running into swarthy firefighters in their front yard while wearing their pajamas.”
    Nobody? Oh, I guess only me, then.
    Love your differentiation of classic vs. Pinterest. Classic is the way to go for me this year as well. Pinterest always makes me feel like I need to compete and work harder. Classic says “Enjoy the moment!”

  17. Terri J says:


  18. Kay Lodahl says:

    thank you! I love these ideas.. I have an old milk can I plan to use with the birch log design… inspired by you!! Merry Christmas… Kay

  19. Brenda says:

    Pinterest stuff just tries too hard…I love your really-lovely-but-I-have-a-real-life-decorations. If we ever find a house to buy and get out of our rental, I will be turning to your board for decorating instructions! Thank you!

  20. Carol says:

    Hi Karen, reading your column feels like those lovely times when you’re with your friends being creative, drinking whatever and eating whatever! The best time of the year is, of course, Christmas. We always look forward to it. It’s a tradition that we’re going to miss this year.

    Thank you Karen!

  21. Ree says:

    When I do something that looks *too* perfect my DH calls it the “Pinstagram” look (because he doesn’t know if I have been scrolling Pinterest or Instagram and says it all blends together anyway)

  22. Kelly says:

    Those glass boxes complete with real fire 🔥 will be outside of my front door this weekend! You are my absolute favorite…and I’m happy to see you leg wasn’t gnawed off by whatever was lurking in your compost pile!!
    Thanks for your humor, and for making me look like a badass who can do anything.

  23. C says:

    My outdoor decorations are a combination of good enough and half-assed. I’m happy to have something but it’s not a mental drain trying to decorate. However I love looking at others decorations and rating them lol

  24. Kel says:

    Oh my Gawd!!
    I think we are kindred spirits!!😂
    Love your blog / post/ whatev…
    Need this in my life!
    I’ve lit up my house, fence in the front yard, plum tree in the backyard… keep looking for places to spend on hydro??
    It’s a Co-vid wonderland?!!!
    Keep it bright!
    Cheers and Merry Merry, not quite That yet😉

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