Outdoor Christmas Decorating Ideas | Holiday Inspiration!

Up until about a week ago it was 24°C (75°F) here in Ontario so it wouldn’t have mattered what outdoor Christmas decoration idea you threw in front of me, I wouldn’t have been biting. For a Canadian it’s hard to get excited about taking a bite out of Christmas when a mosquito is taking a bite out of you.

Cozy evening shot of English style brick cottage decorated with Christmas garland and white lights standing behind a white picket fence. my house showing off its Christmas spirit

Things have CHANGED though and there are even flurries in the forecast so now –  BRING ON THE RED VELVET BOWS, EVERGREEN TREES, TWINKLE LIGHTS, FRUSTRATION & FROSTBITE. I’m ready.  

I thought you might need a little boost getting inspired for Christmas this year and nothing boosts better than cocaine.  But I don’t have any cocaine so instead I have a bunch of pictures for you.  On the downside you won’t be quite as speedy today, on the upside you won’t have to spend all your Christmas present money on rehab.

Personally, my top 3 outdoor decorating things are copper wire lights, red velvet ribbon and sugar pine cones. I use them over and over in different spots every year and you’ll see them in a lot of these photos from other beautiful Christmas homes too.

Outdoor Christmas Decorating

It’s easy to get stuck in a decorating rut especially at Christmas when we just get used to putting up the same wreath, the same decorations on the same front door in the same neighbourhood.  So, take a quick look at these photos to see if it stirs up a little something inside of you that might lead you in a new and exciting direction (but not towards drugs, drugs are bad.)


Front Door Christmas Decorations


  • If things don’t seem impressive to you, go BIG. Get rid of the 5 small things you have by your front door and have just 2 BIG ones. It’ll have more impact and not look so cluttered.

Starting with, more is MORE. Seriously, the swags under the lanterns (which look like genuine gas lanterns by the way) are MASSIVE with huge sugar pinecones;  and that is why they look so great.


Beautiful herringbone pattern wood door with large wreath, flanked by two brass gas lanterns decorated with huge swags underneath.


I almost didn’t share this next photo of my front door from a few years ago because it features the antique wood sled that was stolen straight off of the porch. 


An antique wood sleigh sits beside a black front door on a red brick house decorate with a simple evergreen wreath with a large red bow.


  • If you’ll be sad if it’s stolen, tie it down or NAIL it to the porch. And keep your security camera batteries fresh.


Elaborate black wood doors with C'est Noël in gold lettering on them.

I’m actually not a fan of words on things other than books. But I do like this. Perfectly simple, n’est pas?


White house showing a door with two wreaths hung vertically, and garland swaged with thin red ribbon over steps surrounded by small evergreen trees.

There are so many elements here but it still ends up looking relatively simple because each element is very plain.  The garland with simple ribbon, the unadorned lanterns, and the tiny trees.  Double your impact by  using two Christmas wreathes.


A green front door is flanked by large willowy branches covered in twinkle lights in the shape of an arch at Christamas.

Just a whole whack of tall twigs with  tangle of tiny lights. If you don’t have 8′ tall willow branches handy, Amazon has these prelit 8′ willow branches.

It could be the lack of cocaine talking, but this building below makes me feel all quiet and still and calm.

A small white outbuilding with a dutch door and brick path leading up to it is decorated with live garland and white twinkle lights.


Front Porch Christmas Decorations

It doesn’t have to be expensive.  Cheap burlap normally used for covering up trees in the winter can be turned into a thousand different things, and when in doubt? Throw a blanket on it.

A mannequin wearing a skirt made out of evergreen branches and burlap shaped into a jacket sits on a snow dusted front porch at Christmas.

photo of my porch by Donna Griffith for Canadian Living magazine


Very Scandinavian, very nice.

A very nordic looking front porch on a black wood sided house shows two folding wood chairs covered in fur with a black throw pillow.


Nobody’s sitting on that bench in the middle of winter anyway.  Cover it.

A golden retriever sits in front of Ken Falk's Montana porch at Christmas with natural wood and plain green garland.

O.K., granted this next porch has a lot going for it and for Christmas it could have nothing more than a big bell on the doorknob and it would look gorgeous.

But part of what makes it so inviting (and the part you can copy) is the stack of wood beside the door. Stacks of wood ALWAYS look inviting and Christmassy. The Golden Retriever helps with that too. You can see the entire house decorated for Christmas in this Elle Decor post.

Porch Christmas Trees

I remember the first time I saw a tree on a front porch. It wasn’t even that long ago. Maybe 10 years? My neighbour had one up near the front door of their very small porch and I was immediately smitten. 

A small Christmas tree in a wicker basket set beside two black wicker chairs with sheepskin throws on a front porch.

A small tree in a wicker basket looking charming on my porch last year. You can see the full post with all the pictures of my porch from last year here.

I mean, come on, look at that.  It isn’t all crazy done up and styled it’s just a tree on a porch. And it’s beautiful.

It’s literally all here. Porch tree, stacked wood, sheepskin, cute kid in red plaid, lanterns, garland, candles, berries and more!

Outdoor Christmas Planter Ideas

Have any tomato cages or obelisks?    Put them in planters, run some greenery and lights down them and call it a day.  Simple but effective.

Two large metal, rectangular Christmas planters with obelisks and greenery and lights threaded through them.



Another year those same outdoor planters looked like this; filled with plain, old, logs of wood surrounded with cedar.

Christmas planters with evergreen branches surrounding small stacks of wood in each.

I liked this so much I did it a couple of years in a row.  

Here wood is used again in a planter with some twinkle lights to make it look like a fire’s going.

A small outdoor firepit filled with wood and wire lights to give the illusion of fire.


  • You don’t HAVE  to fill every planter with evergreen boughs, pine cones and bows. Think of other things to put in your planters.

Imagine the idea they’ve used for this small firepit, in two large planters on either side of a door.  In fact, just as I type this I’m thinking it might be what I do this year.  SEE? Even I’m getting inspiration from these photos.  This is a good time to point out that you don’t have to copy everything you see exactly, but you can take an idea and use it a different way.


Quick & Easy Outdoor Christmas Decorations

Pay attention to detail. This light tree works especially well because it’s a dark cord against a dark background.

The shape of a Christmas tree is outlined with lights on the side of a black shed.


Outline the shape of a Christmas tree with regular outdoor Christmas lights. Easy and effective.

Not many things are a better Christmas decoration that freshly fallen snow, but you can help mother nature out with fake spray snow (like in the corners of the window panes) if you have to.

A cedar shed with an evergreen wreath hanging above a large stack of snow covered wood.

photo of my backyard by Donna Griffith for Canadian Living magazine

And yes, the rest of the snow is also sprayed on. Just kidding. That’s 100% genuine Canadian snow.

Guess what? You don’t have to cover your house in sparkles and garland for it to look Chrismassy and beautiful. You don’t have to spend hours hanging lights and setting them to music. 

This is my friend Carol’s house. It COULDN’T be more beautiful and it couldn’t get any easier. A wreath on the fence door and candles in all the windows. In fact I love it so much I just bought window candles similar to these for my windows. God bless the person who invented battery operated candles on a timer.

I don’t know where I’ve been living (other than not on a rural road) but there’s such a thing as a mailbox swag.  It’s true.

A copper country Christmas mailbox with an evergreen swag with red plaid bow draped over it.



K, this next one is a pretty specific look that very few people will be able to do but if you can, DO IT.

A rustic, antique wood wheelbarrow with a Christmas tree sitting inside of it.

A Christmas tree in an antique wheelbarrow!  Please don’t try this with a plastic wheelbarrow. Please DO try it with kids wood wagon.

Always loved wreaths on windows?  Try them on the shutters.

An exterior window flanked by black wood shutters with small wreaths hanging from red ribbon on each.


Always loved words on things? Try them on your door.  I’m not a huge fan of words on things as I mentioned, but I know this would look superb on a lot of your houses.

Black door with green moss words spelling out JOY for Christmas.


Not sure why you like this next picture?  It’s because of the red behind the windows.  You can easily do the same with just red tissue paper or wrapping paper.

A silvery wood shed door flanked by two windows lined with red paper and accented by evergreen filled window boxes with red ribbon..


  • Add red paper behind your garage, shed our outhouse windows for instant Christmas. Don’t do your car windows.

I’ll leave you with a photo of my backyard from a couple of years ago. It’s what I look at out of my kitchen window and what I see when I walk in my back gate. In fact, I see this view way more often than I see my front yard.  A mixture of real and fake Christmas trees with twinkle lights just dotted through the backyard. 

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to slap a little calamine lotion onto my bug bitten ankles from last week so they don’t get agitated by my wool socks and snow boots of today.

I hope you got a few ideas, now get out there, get your stuff and decorate until you feel so Christmassy you get brain freeze.


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Outdoor Christmas Decorating Ideas | Holiday Inspiration!


  1. Jan in Waterdown says:

    I have a black raised panel front door very similar to the “Joy” one. My problem is, it’s a double front door so trying to decorate it/them is tricky. If I put up a wreath on each door, I think it looks like festive boobs. Not that there’s anything really wrong with that but it’s not quite the look I’m going for…. ya know? Any ideas?

  2. Beth says:

    Wait, isn’t a “fence door” a gate? Or is that just an American thing?

  3. Jodi Blackman says:

    Lovely wintry Christmas eye candy and many ideas are adaptable for a warm-climate Christmas! Thanks. In Australia outdoor light displays are getting more popular every year. I definitely want to up my game since I usually concentrate on the inside. The fire pit and a twig tree on the porch are two ideas I am definitely stealing, and since I am hosting my family’s Christmas party on Christmas Eve I have an excuse to go nuts. We’ll have a long table dinner on our back patio under lots of lights.

  4. PegMinn says:

    Great ideas, Karen! Thank you so much! I’m inspired, but also have to try turning my front porch-side 8′ arborvitae into a gnome like another pic I saw – red topper, with a beige stocking-stuffed to look like a nose under a red “hat border” and a rag mop-head “beard” under the nose. It seems like year to add humor into the decorations. I love your back yard! How nice to look out on the twinkly wonderland! Thanks!
    Peace & joy!

  5. Jo-Ann Pieber says:

    Oh I’m just still laughing about your near-last comment about bug bites on your ankles! I get It! That few days of near-summer weather was so odd wasn’t it? And yet a bit of a lovely gift too – even if the damn bugs somehow Also got the signal to wake up again. But now I think we’re well set in for our months and months of winter. Your pictures and post are inspiring for creating ways to brighten and cheer the dark dark months ahead. Thanks for that.

  6. Mary W says:

    So many great ideas! The one thing most have in common is snow and down here in Florida we are lucky to get brown leaves. BUT you do have many good ideas that I plan to use some and haven’t ever decorated outside my little MIL addition before. Time to do it. Love the JOY banner down the door. Love the little trees outside – tiny forests. Love the candles in the window. Down here in FL almost everyone decorates their mailbox! Some neighborhoods have themes that they all have to have a certain item like red bows or lighted candles or whatever. Since no snow, people often drive around the town looking at lighted houses. This year our neighborhood will have a contest with really nice prizes and 5 lucky winners will have the honor of a sign planted in their lawn. Should be fun. There is a home between us and another neighbor that decorates as much as we do. This home is bare, can’t even see a tree in the window. We used to say one day we will plant a well lit sign in his front year with a simple arrow pointing to both of our houses with the word “DITTO” lighted. I do think it would win the funniest award.

  7. Pamela Nelson says:

    Unsure how the following statement in the article is appropriate…. “It could be the lack of cocaine talking, but this building below makes me feel all quiet and still and calm.”

  8. Marie Anne says:

    Thank you so much for posting so much prettiness! Its been very hard to get into the mood this year. You definitely gave me a couple of ideas that will be nice but easy enough to do for my unmotivated butt.

  9. Linda in Illinois says:

    you are my inspiration Karen. Great photos. Favorite being the last one of your back yard. Simply beautiful as all of them are really. Thank you

  10. Good stuff. I love your backyard more every time I see it. Merry Christmas!

  11. Beth L Bilous says:

    The lights in the wood firepit did it for me. Tremendous idea.

  12. Tracy says:

    I’m NOT sorry! These are all so inspirational and gave me a great, needed lift. Love the look of all of these. Thanks Karen for all the laughs, love and inspo we all really need at this time.

  13. I’m so sorry but most your outdoor decorating is not my style. I guess it’s because I like color and sparkles so well. I do like the pictures with the dog and the one with the cute child and all the lighted Christmas trees. Also the red that shows in the windows is nice as the red ribbon ties it in. I’m thinking about decorating early this year too. Thanks for all your blogging etc. I enjoy it.

  14. Em says:

    Dang, we already go all out with lights…now you had to go expose me to more charming ideas…. I’ll never get to take that pledge!

  15. Elaine Senko says:

    I feel so sorry for you that your antique sleigh was stolen. 😢 ☹️ I am a senior & I remember having a similar sleigh when I was young.

  16. Letty L Regan says:

    I love your picket fence. Do you know how wide the individual pickets are and the spacing between them? It looks stunning now all bare, I remember the summer pictures with the English Garden overtaking it. It’s such a great framework and in about two email on making my own.

  17. Kelliblue says:

    WOW those are beautiful. Too bad I’ll never do a one of them. :( And Christmas pledges: bwahahahahahahahahaha. Ha. Hard to get in the holiday spirit when it was nearly 90 degrees just a couple days ago. Sleeveless? Sweater? Shorts? Sorrells? AUGH – it’s all so confusing. Guess I’ll just have to sip my nog, peruse your Pinterest and pretend I’m participating! :)

    • aA says:

      I’m on the Texas Gulf Coast and I feel your pain. I’m an old guy and don’t do sleeveless, and I have no idea what a “sorrells” be, but getting skeeter bit and taking the dogs out for their walk barefeeted (me, the dogs is always barefeeted) is how we DO in Sunny San Leon TX. BUT it’s 2020 and we may have a blizzard. I dunno. Stay tuned. I have a wool hat.

      • Shirley Phillips says:

        Sorrels are boots with felt liners we wear in Canada, to go anywhere in the snow. There are variations, but bare feet footprints on the deck, in the snow, are one of my personal traditions!

  18. Andrea says:

    Karen..I was so done! Outdoor Christmas decorating that is…. Thought i had it all sorted and simple and then you post this!!! Thanks alot! Now I am over inspired! My husband will refer to you as that f***ing blogger from Dundas my wife reads! Lol LOVE IT ALL!! So doing the fire on the porch..just spray painted the fire bowl in copper (only part left of the whole fire pit). Pictures are inspirational! Thank you!

  19. Mary W says:

    This post finally did it. I’m going to pull up the dried weeds in my front flower garden and shock my daughter. This will be fun. I’ll put red tissue in the windows in my craft room so she won’t have to look at the junk stored there. I’ll add greenery cut from the neighbors overhanging fir to the plastic pots filled with weeds and add a red bow. I’ll fill the bar-b-q with greenery and twinkle lights. None of this costs a cent except for muscle cream for my back when I finish the dead garden. I haven’t decorated outside since I moved here since I live in mother-in-law suite attached to back of her home and just outside my door are all the garbage cans – lovely. The neighbor dog pulled up and left a pine tree decorated blanket – it will go onto a lawn chair out by the fake fire. FUN! But I’m going to surprise her and SIL and the 3 kids – maybe even have a pot of hot chocolate waiting with cookies when they get home. Now I’m excited. You did it again – got me moving in a happy way. Thank you so much!

    • Karen says:

      That’s so exciting! O.K., keep the motivation, lol. You’re apt to lose it around the time you’re taping up the tissue paper but KEEP going. :) You’ll feel great when everyone is so surprised. ~ karen!

  20. Danell Pribis says:

    Ok well that got me going. I pruned out some weed trees/branches really, last week and hadn’t gotten around to putting ’em over the bank yet – so I stripped them of their dead leaves and put them in some planters in the front, to deck them out with the mini white lights. Plus, I have some pine trees that could use a few less branches to deck out, what we call, our balcony porch. The oldest boy and I are planning to get all the lights out this weekend and tangle with that project. I haven’t done this in the past but I am going to put a wreathe on the outside entry door.
    Thanks for the post and the challenge – it really has got me going. I hope we reap a peaceful December and plenty of time to do the reading, listening to music and watching Holiday specials I intend to, with the family.

    • Karen says:

      That’s the plan Danell! And to tell the truth (don’t tell anyone else) the whole Pledge thing is just to get your asses in gear. Even if you do still have stuff to do in December if you can even cut that amount by half by getting stuff done now, you’re way ahead of the game. :) ~ karen!

  21. Rosemary Burrows says:

    Lovely vignettes, thank you so much. I brought back home a baby sled that I had refinished for my grandson 8 years ago; have some old dairy cream cans; an old galvanized watering can; some old copper wash boilers; some old brass containers and an old large granitewear pressure cooker that I want to use in a winter vignette. The only problem here on the we(s)t coast is all our rain will dAmage some of this stuff. So I’ll have to put it under cover closer to the house in order to give it some protection. It won’t be all that visible from the street unfortunately but can’t be helped. Have to go and find some winter greens and logs. I’m kicking myself for selling my old maple tobaggan when we downsized! At least I think we still have some old ice-skates around. Your photos have inspired me and I’m excited to do this!

  22. Jane S says:

    Took a load of leaves to the dump this week and parked beside a man unloading pine branches. Yippee! I don’t have to pay for greens for my planter. This is definitely the day to do the outside.

  23. Mindy says:

    I FINALLY own my very own metal dress form. It’s decorative, like has a place in the back for a plant, but I’m all over the Fir Lady this year. I love her.

  24. Mia says:

    Great style–all so natural–but the tiny lights “fire” is the best. Post this, or a similar collection, next year too, please.

  25. Linda in Illinois says:

    Everything is so beautiful. The gigantic swags on the light poles is what I am taking my inspiration from for my mom and dads cemetery swag this year. Beautiful.

  26. Lois Baron says:

    Loved the bench filled with greenery and pine cones, etc. But those pine cones are on steroids. I’ve never seen any that size!

  27. Leslie says:

    Thanks so much for these inspiring photos! I love all the fresh greenery and the simple look of many of them. We won’t be around for much of the holidays so I’m trying to figure out just how much decorating I want to do.
    Can’t wait to see how you end up gussying up your place for the holidays!

  28. Gretchen Sexton says:

    Let’s see: mailbox swag is the winner…or maybe the birch logs with pine cones in the tray…
    But the snow spray in the windows CRACKED ME UP! (I didn’t even notice it because I was admiring the wreath so much!)
    So many great ideas!
    Can’t wait to get more on the inside too!

  29. Clara Woodburn says:

    For those that don’t have those beautiful trees to pick branches from for decorations. Our local boy scout troop sets up a Christmas tree stand every year and will trim the bottom of the trees and either throw them out or burn them. We’ve had folks come by and ask for them. We’ve given them out for free and sometimes folks have given the troup a donation for the tree branches.

  30. Rina Vespa says:

    Hello Karen You must have known I needed that boost. The pics of your home are the ones I like the best. I need to find some skis to do a similar one to yours from a few years back. The tomatoe cage is a good one too. Thanks again.

  31. mbaker says:

    We in South Dakota just got a blizzard. Feel free to come cart some of our snow off for your decorating purposes.

  32. maggie van sickle says:

    My greenery is done, cut by me, my house is started and I do wish I was as creative as u but mine is me . Good job again Karen. Have a great weekend.

  33. Sharon says:

    Collected my boughs from my garden yesterday (beautiful pine and cedar – I am so lucky). Going to 17 C today so doing the outdoor stuff before the threat of snow on Sunday (really – they don’t mean it!!)

  34. Karen says:

    Swag on my mailbox. Hmmmm. Wonder if that would deter the mailbox wackers from doing their baseball bat toting driveby on it??
    Love all the other ideas you posted as well. Well other then the giant red bows. Ya no. I can’t do the giant red bows.
    Merry Christmas Karen…..from Karen ?

  35. Monique says:


  36. Mary Michelle says:

    Your black planters are gone!!! I loved them! I will send some snow your way. It arrives in MI tomorrow.

  37. Elissa says:

    I’m thinking lit peace sign, given what’s going on here in the US!

  38. Very inspirational! I’m going into my garden today to scout around for fallen tree debris that will raise the tone of the neighbourhood once I fashion it into a photo-worthy display. Thanks! :)

  39. Paula says:

    Still gardening, haven’t even started Christmas yet, however; your photos are definitely inspiring!

  40. MrsChris SA says:

    Love love love the tealight fire!!!
    Beautiful – I so wish we could have some snow here!

  41. Cred says:

    I always love your black planters- could you do a post with the different variations over the years? I think my favourite was with the large globe light, pomegranates and some fancy cedar (I can no longer recall).
    I’ve always had a mailbox so I make a swag- on of my favourite decorations and now with a split rail fence roadside, I put a big red bow in between each section for a quaint country living look. And of course, an evergreen door swag with a red bow on the duck coop- I love it against the black coop.
    I did a Xmas variation on your Halloween feather wreath, with all white feather and red baubles and bow. This year I’m changing the baubles and bow to turquoise to accent the midcentury feel and colour in the diningroom/living room.
    But first thing in the spring, I need to paint my front door black. I love how yours looks and such a great backdrop for decorations.
    Thanks for the boot in the arse; I needed inspiration since this weather feels like xmas is far off. I just used our last zucchini and sweet & jalapeño peppers. This is crazy!

    • Karen says:

      I was just thinking about 10 minutes ago as I fed the chickens that I could wear shorts and a t-shirt today and that IS crazy. ~ karen!

  42. Nancy W says:

    Oh, and now, I want to re-do the entire front of the house. Sigh.

  43. Nancy W says:

    Well, I ordered a wreath…it gets here Sunday…I will put it on the INSIDE of my front door so we can enjoy it. My house is teeny, more of a shack really, so it will make the whole place smell nice.
    I am into driftwood, and since I live near the beach, there are always piles of sand in the corners rather than snow. You inspired me with those twigs! I might actually put some driftwood sticks out front, with little lights wrapped around somehow. But not until December the 9th, when I’m done with work for the year. Woo hoo! Thanks for the lovely post, Karen!

    • Bobbles says:

      I’d like to click “like” on this comment. I am going to buy a wreath this year. I’m just too busy to make one. I also have a small house, but not quite tiny. I like the idea of a wreath inside. And I’m from the OR coast, driftwood would be so pretty! Thanks, I love your ideas.

  44. TucsonPatty says:

    That all looks so beautiful! I have my DIY wads-o-lights to hang in the mesquite tree out front. Looks very festive. First one I made was supposed to be a tree shape, and the next two began to look sort of ball-ish. (Hmm) Anyway, thus the name – wad-o-lights. Classy, I know. Lovley decorations around your home. I will also have a fresh greenery wreath for the front door, made by someone other than me! (Benefits a good cause.)

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