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Mansfield Magazine

Mansfield Area Specialists Offer Outdoor Decorating Tips for the Holidays

Nov 17, 2014 01:03PM ● By Laurie Fox

Decorating for the holidays doesn’t have to be limited to indoor living spaces. Thanks to relatively temperate Texas winter weather and abundant outdoor decorating options, your yard and outer facade can look just as seasonally spectacular. From lights along the house and in landscaping to life-sized whimsical characters or a nativity set on the lawn, the attention you pay to outside décor can project your family’s personality for all to see.

As we’ve all learned from viewings of “Christmas Vacation,” the beauty of outdoor art at the holidays is in the eye of the beholder. Some families light up their home and everything around it. Others go with colored lights while some stick to white only. One family may use every inch of yard space while others play it safe with a smiling Santa on the porch and a wreath on the door.

No matter what outdoor holiday adornments you choose, local decorators and lighting professionals say making an effort and keeping yourself and your home safe are the most important things to remember.

Home for the Holidays

“There’s a bubbly feeling to having a home that’s been decorated for the holidays,” says Jenni Robertson, who creates front door displays through Embellished Entry, her Arlington business. “It lifts your spirits when you pull into the driveway. It shows your style and that you took the time to make the effort.”

Robertson encourages homeowners to think outside the box and not be afraid to go bold with their outdoor displays. She says families should think about bright colors and a theme that showcases their interests. She says traditional elements like nutcrackers, snowmen and animals are popular and can be incorporated in unusual ways.

“Little things don’t get picked up when you drive by, so don’t be afraid to go big,” she advises. “If you want to use leopard print, do it. It’s your place.”

David Hanson, owner of Decorator's Warehouse in Arlington, says he loves watching families make a yearly event out of selecting a new large-scale decorative element. He says there’s something for everyone to love about outdoor statues like three-foot elves, six-foot cartoon reindeer, nine-foot Santas and 12-foot nutcrackers.

“People come in and buy one piece one year and another one the next,” he says. “It’s about building a great Christmas tradition for families.”

Hanson says he’s seen just about every shape and size of holiday sculpture to fit virtually every interest. From a Western Santa with a lariat to longhorn steers for the Lone Star enthusiast to life-size sheep, camels and donkeys for nativity sets. Candy canes, palm trees and sugar plums also light up the outdoors. This year, a set of Mr. and Mrs. Reindeer have been popular as well as ornamental Christmas balls that are built flat along the back side so they lie flush against a wall or front entry.

Color and Lights

A winter wonderland scene can be created on your lawn using lit Christmas trees as a backdrop in traditional green or in new varieties like sparkling silver or light-colored twigs that range in height from four to seven feet. Hanson says such options allow homeowners to stage an “instant forest.”

Designers, retailers, shopping centers and cities rely on Shellie Gardner to add color and pizzazz to outdoor holiday décor via the vast array of decorative lights that she sells through her Fort Worth online company Christmas Light Source. From traditional incandescent bulbs to newer LED varieties, Gardner’s stock includes rope, icicle, net and battery-powered lights as small as twinkle craft lights to the larger ones so they can be used for trees and on homes and as accents on garlands or wreaths. All colors of the spectrum from white and champagne to purple, pink and teal are available.

Gardner says “lights are one of the easiest ways to add flair for the holidays.” She says she enjoys hearing about customers’ holiday projects because “there are as many different ways to install Christmas lights as there are Christmas lights.

“There’s an incredible amount of versatility so you can really personalize the effect,” says Gardner, who posts instructional lighting videos on her site. “Lights aren’t too expensive and they add a feeling of festivity and tradition. Christmas lighting is about you. It’s the ultimate form of Christmas self-expression. And you can add to your collection every year if you store them well.”

Safe for the Holidays

While there’s no limit to the imagination needed when decorating for the holidays, Gardner and other lighting professionals do caution against disregarding safety. Keep an eye on how many strands you have plugged into one another and how much electricity your display is drawing overall, they say. And use the lights as they were intended by the manufacturer.

“Every year, it never fails, I have someone come in and ask me if there is an adapter made to plug in two male ends,” says Jeff Allman, manager of the Ace Westlake Hardware store in Mansfield. “That is not safe. Then they want to build their own. Unless you like fire, I wouldn’t try that. I tell them to get another extension cord.”

Heath Cook, owner of Expert Christmas Lights in Mansfield, says the biggest mistake that homeowners make when installing Christmas lights outdoors is stringing too many lights together or using too many lights, period.

“Everyone gets in the holiday spirit and they get a vision of what they want,” he says. “But they believe that if they have plugs, they’ll have power. They don’t pay attention and they overload things. The most difficult thing is the electrical part. You have to consider all the things that you’re plugging in.”

He and other experts recommend checking how many amps your design is drawing. If in doubt, consult an electrician, hire a lighting professional or consider adding another breaker.

So remember, the outdoors is the place to be this winter season. Spend some time putting on your house’s holiday best. Nothing will get you into the spirit faster—and lead to more great memories—than the welcoming glow of home.

Outdoor Decorating Tips

The holidays are the perfect time to use your house, lawn, front porch and garden as a blank canvas for the newest in seasonal home décor. The hottest trends in outdoor decorating feature the same popular elements found in this year’s indoor offerings.

David Hanson, owner of Decorator’s Warehouse in Arlington, says designers and buyers have gravitated to outdoor décor items that have European and Nordic touches on everything from Santas to snowmen and nutcrackers.

Woodland themes that include twigs, tree branches and animals — owls to doves, rabbits to bears - can be found throughout the Christmas market this year. Fabrics like jute and burlap enhance that overall rustic scheme.

Traditional Christmas red and green hues are popular along with frosty blue, mint green, platinum, plum and teal, Hanson says. Chevron stripes are big as well.

Galvanized metal, distressed wood and illuminated outdoor signs with holiday and winter messages can be seen in Hanson’s store and among the holiday collections of national gift and décor manufacturers like Demdaco.

Large-scale décor never seems to wane in popularity, Hanson says, especially Mr. and Mrs. Claus, reindeer and ornament sculptures both round and conical shaped.

Holiday lawn art runs the gamut from traditional illuminated wire frames and blow-up holiday figures like reindeer and penguins found at home supply stories to elegant, two-to-three-foot glittering outdoor ornaments and gift boxes offered by home décor company Frontgate.

LED lights are back this year, featured in shimmering twig trees, dripping icicles and cascading cherry blossom branches.

Effective outdoor displays also can include the more subtle use of indoor decorative items outside. Consider the following ways to work in the newest ideas in holiday decorating with existing garden and outdoor décor:

  • Love the look of luminaries strung along a sidewalk or nestled on an outdoor windowsill but worry about using real candlelight? With an assist from technology, the newest designs cast that familiar warm glow from within weather-resistant cylinders and use battery-operated tea lights.
  • The hot trend of natural elements—sticks, berries or leaves—can be achieved using garden or landscape elements you already have. Planters and metal buckets can show off small décor pieces like clusters of decorative trees surrounded by faux snow.
  • A bundle of holiday evergreen or some outdoor plastic candy canes make a festive front-door greeting clustered inside an urn.
  • Replace bedding plants in summer pots with small juniper or spruce trees. Add twigs and pinecones for dimension.
  • Change out window boxes with winter-resilient greenery. Add white or gold twinkle lights for effect.
  • Spruce up outdoor benches by creating a bed of pine branches highlighted with holiday balls or ornaments.
  • Craft store staples like artificial flowers, grapevine orbs or mini trees come to life when wrapped in Christmas lights. Arrange these outdoor collections on window sills, in planters, flower beds or bird baths.
  • Play with shape and scale with wreaths. Make your own square version for the front door or go big on an outdoor accent wall.

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