Written by Terry Smith

Our site is reader supported so when you click a link to Amazon we may earn an affiliate commission.

Best outdoor Christmas lights: wreaths, garlands, for the garden

Transforming your home into a winter wonderland doesn’t start and end at the front door. Just look out of your window now, and imagine all the wonderful things you can do with the space in your garden, including the patio, decking, and driveway.

From outdoor artificial Christmas trees, hanging baskets, and inflatable Santa, outdoor Xmas decorations, to multicoloured Christmas lights, snowman statues, and garlands; there are just so many options available to you these days when it comes to decorating the outside of your home for Christmas.

So, if you’re thinking of making your home feel as festive as possible, and to visitors a welcome that they’ll never forget, we are here to help. In this article you will not only find reviews of the best outdoor Christmas lights, wreaths, garlands, and decorations currently available, but also helpful and interesting information on the topic too.

So, let’s dive right in and find out about all the different things you can use to decorate your garden at Christmas time, and the differences between them.

Outdoor Christmas lights get the party going

Here are our picks for best outdoor Christmas lights, wreaths and garlands this year to make that feel good mood:

  1. Makio LED string lights – best traditional outdoor Christmas lights
  2. Ourenik lights – best outdoor solar Christmas lights and waterproof lights
  3. Ansio lights – best outdoor Christmas lights for large areas
  4. Village lighting company garland – best long garland with pine cones
  5. Wanna-cul garland – best pre-lit artificial Christmas garland with bows
  6. Village lighting company 24” wreath – best pre-lit outdoor Christmas wreath overall
  7. Cocoboo’s 22-inch Christmas wreath

What are outdoor Christmas decorations?

The difference between outdoor and standard Christmas decorations usually can’t be seen at first glance. This is because what makes an outdoor decoration suitable for use in the garden comes down to things like the materials used in its Construction, and also the design.

For example, there are plenty of Christmas lights available on the market, but some of them would definitely not be suitable for outdoor use, and could even be dangerous, because they are not built to be used anywhere but indoors.

 

Proper outdoor Christmas trees with lights and decorations should be weatherproof, and one way to tell if a product is actually ok for your garden, is to see if it has an IP rating. Weatherproof and waterproof products should have a rating on how resistant they are, and this is shown by the letters IP, followed by a two-digit number. The higher the number, the better the protection. You can see this cart below.

Pro tip: At a minimum you want IP4 to protect against rain.

As mentioned, the materials that the decorations are made from play a part in whether or not they can be classed as outdoor too. Metals should be rust-resistant like aluminium, or be coated with some kind of protection like galvanised steel, or even just a good paint job, and any wires and electrical components should be sealed off and protected.

Here’s the IP weather proofing chart we mentioned earlier.

 

Solids

Water

1

Protected against solid objects over 50mm

1

Protected against drops of water falling 

vertically 

2

Protected against solid objects over 12mm

2

Protected against direct sprays of water, up to 15 degrees from vertical.

3

Protected against solid objects over 2.5mm

3

Protected against direct sprays of water, up to 60 degrees from vertical.

4

Protected against solid objects over 1mm

4

Protected against water splashed from all directions

5

Protected against dust limited ingress

5

Protected against low pressure jets of water from all directions

6

Total protection against dust

6

Protected against strong jets of water

 

What is the difference between a Christmas wreath and a garland?

Both wreaths and garlands are very popular ways that people decorate their front doors and porches at Christmas, but there are still quite a lot of folks who don’t know the difference between them.

To be fair, they are very similar but I think it’s important as a buyer to know which is which so that you don’t accidentally buy the wrong thing and end up disappointed.

Basically, the difference is in the shape, and also in the firmness of these products. Wreaths tend to be quite rigid, and are usually in the shape of a ring. Christmas wreaths are most commonly placed on doors and hung from a hook, nail, or screw.

Garlands, on the other hand, are long, loose, strips that can be used to create a frame around your whole door, be draped across a wall or other surfaces, and is generally thought of as being more versatile.

I tend to think of it like this: a wreath acts like a focal point for people’s attention and can make something that is usually very ordinary and dull, like a door, seem much more interesting. Garlands also make things more interesting, but I use them to accentuate the shape of other objects rather than being a focal point.

This following video shows you some ways to hang wreaths and garlands without having to drill holes or bang nails into your home’s walls and doors. You’ll also get to see the difference between a wreath and a garland, just for clarity.

Possible Problems with outdoor Christmas lights and decorations

Whenever the outdoors comes into the equation, there are always going to be things that can go wrong, but hopefully, this little section of hours will make you aware of what to look out for and give you a better chance of avoiding such issues.

Let’s start with lights, or any outdoor Christmas decoration that has them. As anyone who has ever dealt with Christmas lights will be able to tell you, they can be a pain in the backside. Often, when just a single bulb goes out, it stops the whole set of lights from working, so it’s a good idea to try to have spares and use lights with commonly shaped bulbs.

Obviously, if your lights and decorations are going to be left outside, they need to have a decent IP rating, and the bare minimum I would accept is IP44 if the decoration is left uncovered, but maybe slightly lower if under a covered area. Any lower and you might have problems, depending on the weather.

Often, the lights and products themselves will be weatherproof, but not the power adapter. If this is the case, you can either have a waterproof extension socket or cable reel, or lead the cable into a sheltered area to be plugged in. Alternatively, buy a battery powered product instead.

We spoke about rust and corrosion a little earlier, and this can happen faster than you think in the UK winter conditions. With this in mind, having Christmas lights and decorations that have been made to withstand the elements properly, with good paint coats and the right materials are really important if you want them to last more than one season.

Talking of lasting more than one season, how you store your wreaths and garlands will determine how they look the following year. Just look at this post someone made on twitter about how they do theirs-

Examples of using outdoor Christmas lights and decorations

While I’m not so creatively inclined, my better half is quite the opposite and loves decorating the home at Christmas, both inside and out.

Last year, we tried out solar powered Christmas lights for the first time and bought two different products to see if there was any difference, apart from the price tag that is. We used one set of Christmas lights for the largest tree in our garden, and the other on our house; hanging from the guttering.

We found that price did affect the quality in this case, and while the lights on the tree lasted all Christmas and new year, the ones on the house had failed by the time we were singing auld lang syne.

As well as those lights, we had some battery-operated outdoor Christmas lights on the hedge, and some more on the roof. These worked great, and as they were battery operated, they were easier to set up because I didn’t need to think about power cable length and such.

The missus had got her hands on some lovely, mini-sized, pre-lit Christmas trees and reindeer, and spaced them out along the garden wall that sits in front of our hedge, and decorated that wall with a pre-lit outdoor garland. Finally, our front door was decorated with a Christmas wreath that had really soft and warm feeling lights.

The overall effect was incredible, especially at night, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with this year. She’s been talking about trying out one of those projectors to get a falling snow effect on the house, but I’ve heard a lot of mixed feedback about them, so I’ll probably test and review a load of them for another article soon.

If, like me, you struggle with creative ideas, here’s a video on Christmas light set-ups to help you along with your own ideas.

 

One of the cheapest, and easiest, ways to make your garden look more Christmassy is to simply use LED string lights, like these from Makion, to light up your ordinary garden objects.

The flexible, yet firm, wire that the LEDs are fixed into makes it really easy to wrap the lights securely around your pre-existing garden furniture, plants and trees, and ornaments, giving them a bright and warm glow.

Another good use for them is when you see a Christmas decoration that you like but it has no illumination of its own. With these lights, you can make sure that visitors and passers by can still see those decorations even at night time, thanks to the 100 bright LEDs

These lights are available as a battery-operated single pack, battery-operated double pack, or as a single USB plug in pack. As an added bonus for buying the double pack, you get a remote control that isn’t art of the other versions.

With this remote, you can select from any of the eight lighting modes: Combination, In Waves, Sequential, Slo-Glo, Chasing/Flash, Slow Fade, Twinkle/Flash, Steady On, and an OFF button. You can also adjust the brightness, and there is a timer function too for you to set the lights to come on for 6 hours and then rest for the next 18.

With an IP44 waterproof rating, you are safe to leave these outside, and if you opt for a -battery-operated version, the case that houses the 3 AA batteries is also IP44. The wiring for this box is heat insulated silver, and the main wire is good quality copper, making this product safe and durable enough to handle outdoor usage.

The best part? Well, that would be the price. The double pack with remote can be bought for under fourteen pounds at the moment, and that would be enough to 66 feet of hedges, walls, patios, and anywhere else you fancy. In my book, that makes them a very good deal.

Pros

  • Versatile and available as battery operated or USB mains powered.
  • 100 bright and warm LEDs give you a nice festive glow
  • Eight different lighting modes to choose from
  • Remote control with the double pack
  • IP44 waterproof, including the battery pack

Cons

  • As good as IP44 is, I would have preferred a higher rating if possible.

It’s amazing at just how much a difference even a few string lights can make. Just look at these tweets that show how a handful of lights can improve an ordinary looking garden-

Although I personally prefer battery-operated outdoor Christmas lights to ones that run from the mains, you still have to worry about having spare batteries at the ready for when your originals inevitably run out. I know it’s not a big problem, but if you’ve got a partner like mine, it means having to scale a ladder, in the cold, at 10pm when the batteries have decided to die.

One way to avoid this, is to get yourself some solar-powered outdoor Christmas lights instead. This technology is easily affordable these days, and is perfect for people who are too busy (or forgetful) to remember to plug their lights in or change batteries.

One of the best products we tried, and one that offered very good value for money, was this double pack from Oreunik, available at the time of writing for under thirteen quid, and giving you 80 feet of string lights to play with, overall.

These lights are really easy to set up too. You just click the solar panels into the provided ground spikes, remove the protective film, then connect the wire. It really is Child’s play, and can be done in no time by anyone with an ounce of common sense.

Just like with most string lights, the wire has enough flexibility and strength to be wrapped around pretty much anything, and with a really high IP65 rating, you know that these lights are as waterproof, and dust proof, as you’re going to find.

You’ll need to switch the solar cells on to start them charging from the sunlight, and for the best results, you need to set them up in a spot that gets the most direct sunlight for as long as possible. The initial charging time should be around 6-8 hours, and then that should give you between 8-14 hours of use, depending on how well the cells charged, and what lighting mode you are using.

There are eight different lighting modes, and as just mentioned, the one you choose will affect the running time. For example, the flashing modes will last a fair bit longer than if you have them on a mode that keeps the lights on permanently, but that should be fairly obvious anyway.

Available in four different colour schemes: bright white, warm white, coloured, and multi, with each having 120 LEDs per wire, any of these versions will look fantastic in your garden and on the outside of your home, and at the low rice of around thirteen pounds for a set of 2, you can’t grumble at all.

Pros

  • Solar powered so no need for batteries and cables
  • Four different colour schemes available
  • 120 LEDs per wire
  • Very cost effective for a pack of two
  • IP65 rating is as good as you’ll see on any outdoor lights

Cons

  • You need to place the solar cells in a place that gets enough sunlight to make them effective.

If you’re wondering what solar powered string lights look like when they arrive, take a look at the following photo. Not the most impressive looking thing huh? But once they are set up and charge, they look fantastic!

Solar Powered string lights
Solar Powered string lights

If you are looking to Illuminate a large outdoor area without having to mess around with multiple sets of lights, this product from Ansio could be just the thing you are looking for.

Featuring a whopping 720 waterproof LEDs and 10 metres of cable overall, you should have no problems decorating the entirety of your hedge, fence, wall, or house front with these lights, and you will be overjoyed with how good the combination of colours looks when switched on.

There is a timer included with the lights, and this can be set to 8 hours on and 16 off, and to start at a time of your liking, saving money on your electricity bill, although these are designed to be low voltage.

You can also choose from eight different light patterns and these include: 1. Combination 2. Steady On 3. Slow Fade 4. In Waves 5. Slow Glow 6. Chasing/Flash 7. Sequential 8. Twinkle/Flash mode. My personal favourite among these is chasing mode, but I also thought the in waves setting was good too.

These lights are waterproof, and even the adapter has an IP44 rating, but you will still have to find a waterproof extension lead as this product is powered from the mains supply of your house, and not batteries or solar cells. Having said that, the lead is really long, and you should have no problems connecting to an indoor power point.

In fact, connecting the adapter to the mains indoors is probably a better idea seeing as though there is no remote for the lights, and the controls to switch modes is located on the adapter itself. It would be much easier to lean over the arm of the sofa and press a switch than to walk outside and do it, right?

A word of warning, if you decide to use these lights in conjunction with another set from a different brand, be prepared to have the other set outshone. These are very bright outdoor Christmas lights, yet it is done in a way that still makes them feel inviting.

What more can I say? Fairly priced, good quality, a good length, and very bright. Could you ask for more from your Christmas lights? They are well worth the investment.

Pros

  • Very cost effective way to light up a large area
  • Timer included to save you money on your electricity bill
  • Multiple and varied light patterns to choose from
  • Very bright lights
  • 7720 LEDs can really brighten up any area

Cons

  • Can outshine your other Christmas lights and make them look dull in comparison

With 720 lights, you could probably set up something like the display in the following video if you bought a few (ok probably more than a few) packs of these lights.

Best outdoor Christmas garlands with lights

There are few things that can make your home look instantly more festive than a stunning Christmas garland framing the front door. What’s even better than that? A garland that already has lights built in, saving you the time and expense of having to do it separately.

When I first got this Village Lighting Company product out of the box, it didn’t quite look like the advertising photos, but after I spent a few minutes separating branches and fluffing things up, it really started to take shape and looked fantastic.

The combination of green leaves and needles, dark red flowers, and pine cones, has been done incredibly well, and there is a very realistic look to this garland. The level of detail, colour contrast, and density of the garland is simply outstanding.

Now, I’m not going to shy away from the elephant in the room here, this is an expensive garland, but you do get what you pay for, and the quality of this product is just so much higher than the cheaper models you can buy.

Not only has it been designed to be UV resistant so that its colours don’t fade and the PE and PVC doesn’t degrade, it is also shatterproof so you won’t be left holding the garland in your hands with tears running down your cheeks if a strong gust blows it off the door. Yes, it is an expensive product, but you will get years and years of use out of it

There are controls for adjusting the brightness of the 100 mini LEDs, and also settings for the timer, and for selecting whether you want the light to stay on or flash. This is all done with the press of a single button on the remote, and things couldn’t be simpler.

This garland runs from a battery pack, but there is an option to buy an AC adapter separately if wish. Personally, I prefer batteries for outdoor Christmas decorations and with this product, battery life can be saved by using the timer and flashing function.

Apart from the fact that this is a pricey item, and that I think for that price the AC adapter should have been included, I really can’t fault this outdoor Christmas garland. It simply looks amazing, and is truly built to last for years.

Pros

  • Pre Lit and will save you time and money on extra decorations and lights
  • Combination of pine cones and red berries is very eye catching
  • Different types of branches and needles give a very realistic effect.
  • Brightness can be adjusted on the 100 mini LEDs
  • Plastic materials are UV resistant

Cons

  • No AC adapter included, but runs off batteries anyway

Haven’t made up your mind about an outdoor garland for your front door yet? Well, just look at how good this one looks in this twitter post-

For less than half the price of the Village Lighting Company product we just reviewed, you can get your hands on this wonderful alternative from Wanna-cul.

At 6ft long, it is a third smaller than the Village Lighting Company garland, and there are also a third of the number of LEDs too, but that doesn’t seem to make all that much difference overall, if you ask me.

The Wanna-cul outdoor Christmas garland does have something over its more expensive rival though, and that is lighting modes, and there are a total of eight to choose from with this product. A timer feature is available too, and you can set it to light up for 6 hours on and 18 off.

The garland is made up of artificial pine cones, red berries, blue berries, red apples, and green leaves, and although it can’t quite match the realism of the Village lighting company product, it still looks amazing, with eye-catching colour and texture contrasts.

You don’t have to worry about leaving this garland hung on your door at the mercy of the elements as it has an IP44 rating and can take a hit from the rain. Even the battery pack, where you install the 3AA batteries needed to run the lights, is protected from the weather so you can sleep easily at night.

At this kind of quality, I think the current price tag of just over 90 pounds is very reasonable. Yes, I know you can get pre-lit garlands for a fraction of the price, but trust me, and I’m speaking from experience here, it is better to pay a bit more for something of a higher quality or be prepared to use your garland only once and have to re buy.

All in all, this is a cracking looking Christmas garland that is well built and weatherproof. The LEDs are nice and bright, and the choice of lighting patterns is a big selling point. I can’t see anyone being disappointed if they buy this to brighten up their front door or fireplace.

Pros

  • Very good quality and will last a long time
  • Very nice design, with apples, different coloured berries and pine cones.
  • Ip44 waterproof rating allows you use it outdoors
  • Bright LEDs really make the garland come alive at night
  • Choice of lighting patterns

Cons

  • Price might be a little high for some people

Here’s a photo of some 6ft garlands to give you an idea of the size of them against standard floor tiles. As you can see, they would be fine for hanging over a doorway, but not ideal for anything larger.

6ft garlands
6ft garlands

Best outdoor Christmas wreaths with lights

When it comes to realistic looking Christmas wreaths, it is hard to find one that will beat this excellent item from the National Tree Company. Everything from the pine cones to the small, red, berries look incredibly lifelike, while still adding a touch of colour and brightness.

I’ve used and tested products from this company before, and some of them have been a touch on the pricey side, but this wreath is quite competitively priced, I have to say. What’s more, the quality is still as high as I expected, so hats off to them for that.

This is a very well-made and durable product. All the materials are designed to last, even when left outside, and they are fire-resistant too, just in case of emergencies. Even the light strings that come pre-attached to the branches are high quality and you can be sure that you will get your money’s worth out of this wreath over the years.

The LEDs on the wreath are nice and bright, not so much as it distracts you from the beautiful design and realism, but just enough to accentuate it. The lights can be used with the timer function to come on for 6 hours at a time, and the wreath is battery operated, so there are no power leads or adapters.

With 60 years in the business, this brand knows what it is doing, and it shows in all of its products. This wreath is no exception, and this attention to detail can be seen on everyone of the 113 branch tips that have been carefully crafted to give a look of superior quality.

I have heard some customer feedback from one or two people, reporting problems with quality control, but I’ve never experienced anything bad from this company, and the vast majority of reviews and feedback are positive, so I would still recommend it.

Pros

  • One of the most realistic looking Christmas Wreaths available
  • Very high quality product from a trusted brand
  • Timer function can be set to illuminate for 6 hours at a time
  • Durable and designed to handle being left outdoors
  • Incredible detail throughout this hand crafted product.

Cons

  • Slightly more expensive than some other wreaths, but you get what you pay for.

The following video is of famous American shopping channel QVC checking out a Christmas Wreath from the same brand. It isn;t the exact same product, and doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the oen we reviewed, but you can still see the high quality for yourself.

Cocoboo’s 22-inch Christmas wreath is yet another eye-catching and stunning product to tempt you. However, you have to realise that this should only be used outdoors if it is under cover.

If you have a sheltered area, like a porchway for instance, then you should definitely consider this Christmas wreath for your front door, even if at the moment the price is a little more than I would like to pay. Still, with Covid-19 affecting logistics at multiple levels, price hikes are to be expected I suppose.

Where this product really shines (sorry for the pun), is its use of contrast. The white snow effect on the branches and pine cones is punctuated by the bright red of the berries and the star of the show: the bows.

These bows are a dark red and black tartan and they really do stand out against the white tinged greenery around them. On top of that, the 50 LED string lights help to bring out that colour even further, giving an amazing overall effect.

One thing that bothers me slightly about this product, and any Christmas wreath for that matter, is that they arrive squashed down for packaging reasons. Usually, it’s just a case of fluffing the branches and things up again, but when there are bows and things, I worry about possible damage.

Another thing that I have to say is that for the price, I would have at least expected there to be batteries included, but there aren’t any, so you’ll need 3 AA batteries before you can use the lights. There is also no wreath hook included either.

There are multiple light patterns to choose from on this wreath, and all of them look really nice, so no complaints there. However, I will make one more gripe before I’m done, and that is about some of the wiring in the rear of the wreath being exposed and possibly damaging the surface of your door in windy conditions.

So, not a perfect product but one that looks fantastic and can easily be modified to be better than it arrived. The price might be a sticking point for some, but I’m sure there are plenty out there who will be seduced by its looks and give it a go.

Pros

  • Stunning wreath with snow effect on branches and pine cones
  • 50 bright LED lights really do a good job of giving a festive feeling
  • Tartan bows create an amazing contrast and really steal the show
  • Choice of light patterns
  • Can be left outside as long as it is sheltered, such as under the porch

Cons

  • Exposed metallic parts on the rear could scratch your door if you’re not careful.

If you are worried about it scratching your door, you could always try it on yourself first, just like this lady (I’m joking of course)

Making your garden a focal point for Christmas cheer has never been easier, as we’ve shown with the products above. So, why not invest a little in some lights, a garland or two, or a stunning wreath, and turn the front of your home into a place of envy for the neighbours?

Another fantastic way to create a Christmas themed garden is to buy an outdoor artificial Christmas tree. You can either buy one as a plain tree and decorate it with some of the lights we reviewed above, or you can get a pre-lit artificial Christmas tree and save yourself some time and effort.

Then there are all kinds of decorations with lights such as Santas, reindeer, polar bears, and more. These can be large centrepieces, or smaller ornaments that you can place around the garden.

We are currently working on adding review articles for these products, so if there isn’t a page on them yet, please check again in a few days. For now, this is all we have time for, so I’ll just say my goodbyes.

 


About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from gardentoolbox.co.uk, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence.

View all posts by Terry Smith