Top tips for decorating an outdoor Christmas tree

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Christmas trees don’t just have to be for indoors, you can use them to decorate your driveways and front doors too! Here are a few suggestions for choosing your tree, and some of the best outdoor-proof decorations.

What kind of tree should you decorate?

There is no better opportunity to use a pot-grown Christmas tree than in your outdoor light display.

These trees have been carefully grown in pots so they can carry on living once you bring them home with you. Many choose to bring their pot-grown trees indoors as their main Christmas tree, leaving them outdoors until the last minute. They can then be taken back out as soon as the festivities are over. However, there is no place better for a living tree than the great outdoors.

Pot grown Christmas tree

You can choose to keep your potted Christmas tree inside its pot, adding a decorative pot cover for some colour. Or, if you would prefer and have the space, you could even plant it out into your front garden to remain as part of your display every year.

If you choose to keep it potted long-term, then you need to remove it from the pot cover, and climate bag. Then re-pot it into a container at least twice the size of its original container (minimum of 15 litres). You can either leave it in its grow pot or remove it. But do so carefully so you don’t disturb the root ball.

You don’t necessarily have to decorate a ‘Christmas tree’ though. You may already have established trees, evergreen or deciduous, that you can decorate too.

How to light your outdoor tree

The first essential you need for your lights is that they are outdoor-safe lights. You want to make sure your display will last as long as possible, so having lights that will survive the elements is essential.

There are a few different ways you can wrap your tree in lights. This can depend on the tree, how much time you have, and the desired effect.

lights wrapped around christmas tree

Horizontal lights

If you’re short on time but still want your tree to look impactful, you could choose which tree side will be outward facing. Then, all you need to do is zigzag your lights horizontally up the tree. You will end up with more lights on the side you want to show off and use up way less time.

For a similar effect, and slightly more time, you can do the classic horizontal wrap all the way around.

Vertical lights

You could also wrap your tree by doing vertical zigzags. This may have a slightly different effect, and you may choose to leave gaps between each line of lights for a noticeable striped effect. This might be particularly helpful if you want to use different colours for alternate strands. Or if you have a couple of shorter-length sets and want to make sure they line up more tidily.

Lights wrapped around tree branches

Wrapping your tree's branches

The most time-consuming but potentially rewarding method to lighting your tree is to wrap the lights around the tree, one branch at a time. This method is wonderful for hiding the wires and making the tree look more naturally lit. You do this by starting at the bottom of the tree, then working from the tip of each branch, wrapping backwards. This is also a great method if you’re wrapping a deciduous tree with no leaves on it. You can wrap the exposed branches, brightening up the garden display.

Colour-wise, you can go with a classic cool or warm white for a timeless look. However, you could go all out and try a retro, colourful look by using colourful lights. This will help your display to stand out and cheer up your display viewers. You may also choose to match up your light colours with the rest of your display colour scheme, if you have one.

How best to decorate your outdoor tree

You may decide that lights are effective enough for your tree, but adding some decorations is a fun way to add festivity. Also, they can provide some visual appeal during daylight as well as at night.

One of the essentials you should look out for is shatterproof decorations. It is one chore to get broken baubles tidied up indoors. It is a whole other task outside, especially in the dark. You may not be able to avoid the occasional broken bauble. However, buying decorations that will break into large pieces is safer and easier to tidy up.

plastic christmas baubles for the christmas tree
homemade christmas baubles
metallic christmas baubles

Plastic decorations are future-proof. Plus, they are more affordable to replace in the case of breakage, tarnish, or fading.

Make a family activity out of decorating the tree, by encouraging everyone to make some weather-proof decorations. Perhaps even make a tradition out of doing this every year. This naturally replaces any that have been weather-worn from previous years and adds to your collection.

A slightly pricier but effective and long-lasting outdoor ornament choice is to buy some metal ornaments. You could choose brass, copper, or galvanised steel which has been treated so that it doesn’t rust. If you’re worried about rusting, you can treat them to protect them. However, if they did rust, you could make a lovely effect out of it with the rich colours it offers.

Decorating small spaces

With these tips, your small space can be filled with magic and you’ll be set to celebrate Christmas without compromising on space.

What are some of your hints and tips for decorating small spaces at Christmas?