Here’s how to create an envy-inducing Christmas display the whole neighbourhood can enjoy this festive season.
Nothing says Christmas like a twilight drive through the suburbs, checking out the best of the local light shows. If you’re planning on joining the party and doing some outdoor decorating of your own, here’s how to create a magical Christmas display.
Prepare your canvas
Before putting up lights and decorations, get your garden and exterior show ready. Starting from the top and working your way down, trim back any overhanging branches or hedging – a hedge trimmer will make short work of this task.
Now give your exterior walls and windows a thorough clean, followed by your decking or paving, ideally using a high-pressure washer, which will do a thorough job on all these surfaces, in a fraction of the time. At ground level, clear the weeds from your garden beds, and put your leaf blower to work, clearing any leaves and debris before firing up the lawn mower and line trimmer for picture-perfect lawn.
Choosing your decorations
Decorations designed for the great outdoors will have been built to better withstand the elements. Some hardware stores now stack a wide range of decorations designed for outdoor use, including blow-up Santas and sleighs complete with internal LED lights and built-in fans.
A wreath for your door is a must have, and can make for a fun afternoon of DIYing. Bigger is usually better outdoors, as decorations can be overwhelmed by the trees and building itself, so don’t be afraid to go large.
Hit your local discount and hardware stores for a range of products that can be easily repurposed into decorations (some basic power tools will come in handy too.) Stuck for ideas? Make a snowman using three terracotta pots of ascending size, white paint, a glue gun and some door handles.
Paint the pots white, tip them upside down, and starting with the biggest on the bottom, glue the three pots in a stack. Glue your door handles on the front for buttons, and draw a face on the top pot. Make him even fancier by painting one additional (and smaller) pot black and adding as a jaunty hat.
Other easy projects? Attach striped paper plates to a doweling rod, wrap the plate with cellophane and tie with a ribbon to create giant lollypops – or wrap string lights around tree shaped wire tomato frames to create a dazzling light display.
Safety is key when it comes to Christmas light displays, and a lot of the work starts before you step onto your ladder. First ensure your lights are designed for outdoor use, then carefully check wiring for any damage or wear. Now plug in and check all bulbs are working – they’ll be way easier to replace before you light them up! Don’t use strings with missing bulbs, as these are a fire risk.
Always choose lights that meet Australian safety standards and aim to place all connections indoors, or on a shaded and elevated surface so water can’t pool around the connection.
LED lights are a low-cost way to create a dazzling display of lights, though solar lighting is the way of the future – there’s now a wide range of lights that will get their glow courtesy of the sun. Bonus safety tip: never place lights directly onto flammable materials (and ensure nothing hangs over them), and turn off your displays when you go to bed.
Decorate your garden
Every outdoor surface can be part of your tableau – use tinsel and baubles on your trees and bushes, peep Santa’s helpers throughout your garden beds, and light the pathway to your house with lights to create an inviting Christmassy vibe.