Hello and Happy Holidays! Have you already taken care of your outside holiday decorating? If you live in a cold weather climate, were you able to add some red and green before your fingers turned blue? We hung our outside lights on Thanksgiving while the turkey was cooking away, and it happened to be 85 degrees outside! A little weird... being a Midwestern girl, I still sometimes have a hard time getting used to the Southern California Christmas. But I have to admit that shopping in sunshine while wearing shorts and a t-shirt makes the getting used to easier!

Now, on to the good stuff. Following are several easy outdoor holiday decorating ideas to help you get the most out of your outside decorating dollar. In general, try to think long-term when you purchase your items. As is true with any purchases, if you spend a little more for durable, quality items, they will serve you well year after year.

Invest in good lighting sets

Make sure what you’re buying is cleared for outdoor use. Get a solid measurement of the places you plan to hang lights to avoid having to run back to the store for one more set. And err on the plus side – it’s easy to find an extra place to use lights but very frustrating to wind up a lightless few feet along your roof or tree line.  We’ve all been there. Arrgh!

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We decided this year to wrap rope light around the base of our big palm tree in the front yard – an inexpensive. Simple and beautiful effect for any tree in your yard. Another effort-savor is to use light nets to drape over your shrubs or bushes. Easy to place, look greats and will last for years. For extra annual savings, look to buy LED lighting sets that use minimal electricity. Note for you Griswolds out there (you know who you are): Choose your light volume and placement carefully…sometimes less really is more!

Big wreath, big impact

Investing in a big wreath is another great way to make a statement in your outdoor décor. The upfront cost may be a little stiff, but you’ll have a great, durable piece for years to come.  You can easily change the decorations on your wreath so it will never go out of style – and decorating it for the new year can become a family tradition. Use Christmas tree ornaments (you can use the same ornament hangers you use on your tree, pretty ribbon and bows, and the clip-on ornaments also work great. For extra dazzle, light your wreath (make sure you plan ahead to get power from plug to wreath using a safe, outdoor extension). My husband is the hanger in our house. I make the decorations. He hangs and does the lights. Seems fair to me!

Bigger really is better!

Okay, okay…get your minds out of the gutter (Santa is watching, you know) and think decorations. Here’s a terrific way to add some outdoor pizazz and tie your color scheme together and dress up your plants in the daylight hours. Simply hang large Christmas tree ornaments on the bushes or small trees in your yard. (Tip:  The bigger your tree or bush, the bigger the ornaments…I hung large ornaments on my palms and they look just right size-wise).This can work just as well on balconies, railings and even your mailbox. And why not tie things off (pun intended) with a giant festive bow!

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What did we learn?  Buy quality, think big (wreaths and balls), and get your significant other to do the tricky work while you handle the creative stuff.  Most importantly, get in the spirit of the season, give the gift of beauty to all who pass by your home, and have fun!

Now what will you do next to love where you live?

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