The Best Outdoor Christmas Lights to Make Your House Merry and Bright

After you've decked your halls and your tree, it's time to take the holiday glow outside. We've rounded up the best sparkle and shine for your home's exterior.

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October 11, 2021

One of my family holiday traditions is to put on our pajamas, fill travel cups with hot chocolate and drive around looking for Christmas lights. My local moms' blog keeps a running list of the best streets and parks, so definitely do a search for "Christmas lights" in your area to see if someone has already compiled the most festive places in your hometown.

How to Choose Outdoor Christmas Lights

Start your outdoor Christmas light search by deciding whether you'll go with incandescent or LED lights. LEDs cost about twice as much as incandescent bulbs; however, they last two to three times longer. They also use 10 percent of the electricity that incandescents do — saving energy and producing less heat, which reduces the risk of fire.

When it comes to brightness, incandescents are a little brighter, but strings of LEDs usually have more bulbs per string, so they give off around the same amount of light. One more checkmark in the LED box is their construction. Made of lightweight plastic, LEDs are less likely to break than glass incandescent bulbs.

The Bulbs

String lights come in a variety of bulb sizes, all of which are available as LED and incandescent. Mini lights — your quintessential Christmas tree lights — are the most popular. C6, C7 and C9 bulbs are strawberry-shaped and the most traditional of Christmas lights. They range in size from 3/4 inch to 1-1/4 inches in diameter.

Where to Hang Outdoor Christmas Lights

Hang your lights in the evening so that you can see the effect they make as you string them. Opt for bigger bulbs, such as C7 and C9, for your evergreen trees and space them about 12 inches. As a general rule of thumb, industry professionals suggest using around 100 lights per vertical foot.

When it comes to decorating your bushes, nets are the easiest and quickest way to add instant glow. And don't forget about your deciduous trees. Wrap mini or rope lights around the bark, which is usually rough enough to hold the strings in place. If the lights start slipping, use strategically placed pushpins to hold them in place. Don't use nails or screws that could hurt the tree.

With all the joy our neighbors bring to our evenings with their stunning outdoor Christmas displays, let's add our own to the mix. Scroll through our dazzling picks to illuminate your home with plenty of Christmas cheer, and then learn the perfect way to hang all your outdoor lights.

The Best LED Lights

For use indoors or out, these warm white mini lights create a classic glow. Wound around a handy reel, the almost 90-feet of string lights are easy to roll out for decorating and then store away when the season is over. The best part? If one bulb burns out while the strand is plugged in, the rest of the lights will stay on. You can connect up to eight strands together for a bright and cheery display.

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The Best Incandescent Lights

$10.99

These indoor-outdoor incandescent string lights come with 100 bulbs, two flasher bulbs, two extra bulbs and two replacement fuses, ensuring years of use and longevity. You can connect up to five sets of lights together to create the holiday display of your dreams.

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The Best Colored Lights

$39.98

These C-9 diamond cut bulbs bring a decidedly retro vibe to your holiday decor. Connect up to 20 sets to create an incredible outdoor display without having to find multiple outlets. Each strand is 66 feet in length, and the energy-saving LED bulbs provide up to 20,000 hours of light.

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$29.99

Designed specifically for the outdoors, these heavy-duty multicolored lights are made with industrial-grade gauge wire and have twist-resistant bulbs. With more than 130 feet of lighted length, Philips' array of seven shades delivers festive color to your outdoor display.

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The Best Solar Lights

$25.99 (Pack of 2)

Save on electricity, and use the power of the sun to charge your outdoor Christmas lights this year. The large solar converter charges quickly and gives you eight to 10 hours of festive glow in the evening. Select from eight different modes — constant to twinkling — to create the just-right look for your yard.

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$49.99

Let the sun add color to your outdoor holiday display with these solar-powered string lights. Almost 50 feet in length, the LED 150 bulbs are energy-efficient and long-lasting. Plus, the built-in timer stores enough energy to illuminate the next day.

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The Best Net Lights

$19.99

Tossing nets over your bushes is an immediate way to amp up your outdoor decorations. These heavy-duty nets measure four-by-eight feet, and nine sets can be connected together for a grand display of 1,800 bulbs.

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The Best Icicle Lights

These bright white icicle lights create a snowy winter scene on your roofline, hedges or fence. Connect up to three sets of the incandescent warm white bulbs, which are spaced out on varying lengths.

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Snow. Snow. Snow. Snow. (Y'all are singing this in four-part White Christmas harmony with me, right?) These strands of snowflakes and icicles bring a sparkling effect to your porch or windows. The long-lasting LED lights feature 20 drops of dome lights and snowflake-shaped lights and help save energy, using up to 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. Connect up to 43 total sets together for an easy holiday light decoration.

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The Best Meteor Shower Lights

$15.99

Create a winter wonderland with icicle lights that mimic the look of falling snow. The durable, waterproof design will hold up through winter's rain and snow. Hang the lights from your rooftop or in your trees for a completely enchanting aesthetic.

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The Best Quick-Clip Lights

$29.99

Take the stress out of your outdoor decorations with these easy-to-install lights. Hang your lights in half with the time with built-in, heavy-duty clips that withstand the harshest weather conditions, feature adjustable bulb positions and connects with up to 90 strands.

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The Best Pathway Lights

$26.98

Illuminate your walkways with these oh-so-colorful lights. Each set has eight oversized bulbs that stretch more than 14 feet, and you're able to connect up to four strands.

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From $149 (Set of 2)

Line your walkway with pre-lit Winchester fir trees that guide guests to your front door. The three-foot-tall trees add sparkle to your front lawn and can also be staked into a planter.

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The Best Lighted Greenery

From $129

Dress your door with a pine wreath and garland. Bright white berries and small pinecones dot the lush greenery for a playful contrast of color and texture, while the 35 LED lights illuminate the wreath for a whimsical look.

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From $59

Start your holiday design at the beginning of your driveway. Don your mailbox with a festive swag that kicks off the merrymaking as soon as guests arrive. The faux pine branch, pinecone and holly decorations are pre-lit with warm LED lights for a jolly glow.

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From $129

Jack Frost makes it hard to keep beautiful plants in your planters year-round, so we love these pine and cedar inserts that will last all winter long. The mix of greenery and pinecones is dotted with iced sprigs and warm twinkle lights.

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