Make the new year bright: Use Christmas lights on the patio

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Soon it’ll be time to pack up the stockings and the snowmen, the Santas and the sleighs. But there’s no need to lose those lights when they can do double duty on the patio.

“Store” lights outside

Putting away decorations is part of beginning the new year, but not everything has to go back into the attic. Hang your Christmas lights on the patio. They can brighten up the patio until you are ready to use them again in next year’s holiday displays.

 

String lights are popular for illuminating pergolas, tree trunks, and gazebos. You can also fashion a curtain out of string lights by hanging them vertically from PVC pipe or another long, sturdy surface. Rope lights do a great job lining paths and patios. Tuck the rope under the edge of pavers to keep them out of sight and out of the walkway so guests don’t trip. Use garden pins to secure the rope down, taking care not to pierce the light casing.

Lighting pergolas and pathways are simple ways to use Christmas lights, but many other creative options exist for re-using holiday lights on the patio. Old umbrella frames or lampshade spines look great donned with lights. Cover the frames with lights and then hang them from above or tuck them away in a corner to add charm to your Hardscape. Hula hoop “chandeliers” are popular with DIYers on the Web. Wine bottles with a string of lights inside are pretty additions to outdoor tables. Two bowl-like frames of plant hangers can be taped together to form a ball shape. Loosely wind the lights around it to make a glowing orb for the garden. If you don’t have ready-made frames, chicken wire is inexpensive and can be sculpted into various shapes. Old wagon wheels, garden benches, the underside of the table or shade umbrella, are all places that are much improved with a set of lights. If your Christmas lights won’t work, look into a set of battery-operated, all-weather mini lights to do the trick.

A little note about safety

As always, make sure to follow manufacturer directions and use common sense. Use only outdoor lights as they are meant to take wet and snowy weather conditions. Be careful with electricity, no matter how small the voltage. Keep extension cords out of the walkways and pin them down or cover them. Secure any hanging elements and any loose cables. A safe patio is a fun patio.