Holiday Outdoor Decorating - Let's Get Down To It!

Warrenton, VA

HA! "Tis the Season! I'm so proud of my retro tacky blow-molds that I bought off eBay last Summer...a big Santa Claus with Blue Eyes and a South Pole sign...been so patiently waiting to get them displayed...

I have no exterior electrical sockets (we're REALLY retro!) so the solar lighting is fascinating. I bought 2 strings of white star lights which are going on each young Montgomery spruce on either side of the driveway, and while waiting for a prescription to be filled at Wegman's, I wandered into the holiday aisle and bought 8 plastic 2-D star walkway stakes.

I also bought a really tacky storm door cling plastic panel of a happy Snowman off eBay, and ended up my spending spree with a pack of large solar glow-in-the-dark snowflakes to put on the 2 windows in the front! Please understand that I am starting from scratch - I have no other outdoor decorations, so this justifies everything, of course.

So, now all I have to do is get over this horrible Bronchitis that everyone has, and get out there to put this stuff up! Oh, I forgot to tell you that I bought a pretty and yes, a bit tacky (but still tasteful) mailbox cover with red and white candy canes. I love those mailbox covers - so cheap, so pretty, and so different! They really tell people that you are honoring the season!

I have to say, that my little 1950's cinderblock cottage sets a certain look, and all of this stuff suits it! So, while some is tacky (I say fondly), it looks very nice and appropriate! Can you figure this out? Will post a picture when I can! How about YOU?

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Gracye, I'd really like to see all that put together. It does sound cute with the date of the house!

My front yard and house never seemed to lend itself to my attempts at lighting But...I limbed up my Little Gem Magnolia this summer. (Did I already bore somebody with this?...) I have a dozen or so large plastic outdoor ornaments, , 6 or 8 inch diam? and some stars. I hung them at random heights beneath the magnolia. Under the Mag is a bed of wintercreeper. I laid a couple strings of lights on the wintercreeper. I'll have to get a picture to do it justice. But I am pleased, and my nice neighbor said she likes it, so that'ss mostly all that counts.

It'd be fun to see what others have done.

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

Would love to see some pics Gracye

Haven't gotten around to the outside yet, just finished the inside, except for the tree

Odenton, MD(Zone 7b)

My decorating this year is only going to be inside and consists of throwing a Christmas Kitties fleece throw on my sofa. Quick and easy! Lol

College Park, MD(Zone 7a)

Christmas for me this year is to have the Christmas tree decorated. Last year I had to settle for decorating the wrought iron birds in my dining room We had a new kitty and we all know that a Christmas tree and a kitten are not a good combination.
So here is a picture of this year tree and last year holiday decor. And Princess Triangle is very good and has not touch the tree once. What a good girl ....

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central, NJ(Zone 6b)

Great idea!
Nice tree!

I repurposed our pumpkins and here's our tree this year

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Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Nice job on the pumpkins Jen, our's got re-purposed to the compost and chicken food.
I think I've had enough decorating, I started right after Thanksgiving to do some of the outside while it was nice. I usually do the window boxes and planters with cut evergreens and bows, candy canes line the walk, evergreens,bows and lights on the fence, then there are the reindeer and train with a few lights for the house. Ric

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Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

On your picture #2--is that your trumpet Vine?--I immediately thought how amazing the leafless
vine branches would look all filled with lights! What an entry way that would make!!!

I do not do any decorating. Bah...Humbug! I have not done a tree for about 10 years.
--I am never home on Christmas--go to NJ every year and spend the Christmas with my sister's Clan
--I would have no place to put a tree--my plants decorate every corner of the house.
--IF I did a tree--it would make me sad--as i would be the only one looking at it. So--why bother.
--At work--the Christmas stuff went up this year 2 weeks before Halloween. Pulllease!!!! Overkill...
Christmas music playing overhead now for a month. More overkill....

I DO try to put some lights in the shrubs at the front of my house and around my front door.
They are on a timer--on at dusk--off at 12 midnight. They always seem so---welcoming........

Jen! What a neat idea--painting your pumpkins and making a snowman out of it!!!!
My ONE pumpkin is still sitting outside....and there it will sit till the cows come home...

OK! Bedtime.....

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I am enjoying your pics
sorry have been lazy and not shared any of mine
maybe tomorrow

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

We do a lot of lights outside, and pine roping and wreaths, but that's it. Maybe next year we'll branch out to reindeer and trains. I LOVE looking at everyone else's decorations!

I hate to take the decorations down. I leave them up much longer than anyone else!

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Devon, I always hope for a January thaw to take mine down. LOL Ric

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

I know what you mean. I know I'm supposed to do it on 12th night -- maybe that's why I just use white lights and no reindeer or Santas -- I don't feel so awkward in February with the lights still up....

Though when we unpacked our lights this year, they had turned black and didn't work so I had to buy all new ones. They worked when we packed them up last year. Maybe we used them for too many weeks and they were exhausted....

annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

A friend of mine says that there are some cultures that do leave their decorations up year round and just add to them the following year! Makes sense to me...just like the layers in the Grand would reveal the tales of Christmas past.

What do you all do with the cards you receive?

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

I cut them and use them for gift tags, also have made photo collages with them

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


Many times, when lights quit working, there are likely 2 reasons why.

1--The itsy bitsy little fuses that are inside the plug-in part of the cord need replacing
(Did you know there were 2 of these inside the plugs?).
2--If you pull out the light--there are 2 wires that are folded back on each side of the bulb.
These make the "contact" so the electric can flow from light to light--uninterrupted.
if even ONE of these little wires slip off of the side of the bulb--the chain will not work.
Even if a bulb just burns out (will have black inside)--the line will still work as the base of the
bulb still provides the needed contact.

It is a tedious job to pull each light out and look at the lights. But--you can do it while watching TV.
When I am packing up my lights for the next year--I check each string as I fold it up.
I plug in the string as I work--and when I touch the faulty-connected bulb--the string will go out.
Then, all you have to do is pull out the bulb, check the little wire, straighten it out and replace the bulb
Or--if the bulb is burned out--replace the bulb.

NOW! Before you throw out a whole chain of lights--remove a bunch of bulbs that you can use as replacements.
Also--remove all those little fuses from the plug. You will then have a good supply for replacing the ones that are used up.
Look for a little "drawer" on one side of the plug. Use the tip of a knife, of similar, to pull it open.
There is a small ridge that will give you a place to pull by.
If your string of lights comes with that small plastic baggie with a few extra bulbs--there will also be a couple extra fuses in there.

Judy--I do the same thing as Jen--I cut up my cards for gift tags. Takes a trained eye to visualize where you can fold it
and still have a nice picture on top--and all blank inside. I have a box-full--as I seldom use tags.
Need to donate these away--somewhere. Any ideas???

Look here: Now--IF you already knew this--please ignore! Gita

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Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

Gita: What was strange with my lights is that all the bulbs turned black. So I tossed them, and bought new lights with better quality wires.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Wow--happy! That is strange.

Maybe you has a power surge that zapped everything???
Maybe you had too many stings of lights plugged into one another--all in the same outlet?

When you bought new ones--did you get the LED lights?

Not an electrician. Someone may chime in that knows more....

MAF is quiet lately--everyone must be busy preparing for the Holidays. G.

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

Gita, as I recall the old lights worked until we took them down last year, so I don't know when they turned black. I think they were ultra-cheap, and I bet we strung too many together. But i still don't understand how they could have been working when we took them down, but have turned black -- all of the lights on all of the strings -- and stopped working over the course of the past year.

I've heard the LED lights aren't very attractive -- that the quality of the light is garish. What do you think?

I dug up another strip of my awful hill this evening until it was too dark to see, and got it about 1/3 planted.....

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

The newer LEDs are a more natural color, the old ones all looked blue. The power used is real green though, I've heard as much as 6 cents on the dollar. Ric

I've been replacing mine as they go bad to reduce the initial expense.

This message was edited Dec 20, 2012 9:54 PM

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


Did you know that, the first 2 weeks of November HD does a X-mas light recycle. This year it ended on 11/14.
This is advertised in their Circular every year.

You bring one, two, or 3 strings of old lights and drop them in a BIG box provided--just for this--and you can get
$3--$4--or $5 coupons, respectively, back good towards the purchase of LED lights.

Since this goes for 2 weeks--you could bring some old lights every day for 2 weeks and get these coupons.

Yes! I think the LED's cost a bit more--but at $$$ off, it may not be so bad. Gita

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Gita thanks for reminding us on that light trade in
I will have a lot myself. Last year I spent a lot of time trying to trouble shoot some strings with no luck. This year only two strands for the tree are working and three quit.

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

Gita: Thanks for the info on the lights-trade-in. I didn't realize that -- I feel terrible because we tossed so many this year!

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Finally bought a tree Tuesday. The price was half since we waited so late yay. Got it in the house, up yesterday, lighted last night.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Well--You could collect all the old lights from anyone tossing them,..

I could give you about 20 stings!! I have light sets that are still, unopened, in boxes.
I have some massive light sets--with 3 wires--the "chasing" lights. Like 300 strings...
We used to put them on our spruce tree--as long as we could, somehow, reach the top.
It was pretty while it lasted......

This ended years ago--as the Spruce just grew out of reach.
About 5 years ago, this Spruce got cut down as it was dying anyway.
Now it is just Lawn there......

As I said--i have not done a tree in about 10 years. Have NO room anyways! It is all plants now....
The girls moved out way before that. Then my DH left me for someone else. Now it is just me--and I do not bother any more.

I get enough of "Christmas atmosphere" at work. And--when i drive up to NJ every year to be there for the
Holidays with my sister and all her Clan. Four married daughters and 11 Grandchildren. Now ages 19-6.

It is what it is! And--we must make the best of it. Gita

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

Oh Gita, you sound a little down. We're here for you! I think it would be wonderful to share Christmas with your sister and her clan. And liberating to not mess with all the decorations if you don't feel like it.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Gita I will buy light sets from you at Swap if you like. My outdoors white ones are dwindling, and only have two sets indoors multicolored. This beats trying to get the after Xmas bargains, which seem skimpier lately. I think the stores are controlling how they stock the shelves more closely.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


Please remind me closer to the Swap.

I really do not know what, and how many I have. Will check when i am putting away my lights from the shrubs.

I think one of the best "new" ideas was to put those little clips on each bulb that holds it to the base.
These will not fall out or get jiggled.

I will be gone Mon. Tue. and wed. of next week--to NJ. So--you will not see me's only 3 days!

Have a wonderful, safe Holiday! Gita

Salem Cnty, NJ(Zone 7b)

Safe travels, dear! Wave when you come over the bridge.

Warrenton, VA

I bought, yesterday in total Christmas Spirit, ornaments and figurines from my favorite nursery. You see, I found, at a consignment shop, some blue (almost black) satin-finished glass balls, with two other colors of blue. So, this was the perfect opportunity to get some silver stuff for my tree!
My nursery, where I bought my tree last year (and they remember my tale of where I was going to put it - a certain window so the people coming off the highway would see it when they round the bend), had everything at 50% off. That's right! 50% off BEFORE Christmas!
And they have lovely things. Seems like you can't get nice decorations where you used to - the better department I had fun, supported my nursery in winter, and got a great bargain!
All of your pictures are just beautiful! Oh! It's Christmas! My blowmolds tired to blow away yesterday in that awful wind...and I am getting ready to spray my Neem Oil again...great for killing insect eggs, de-windifying, and also pro-acting on mold. First time I've ever done this - spray in the Winter, but the climate is changing too much and so I had better change with it...LOL! Merry Christmas!
By the way, with the one negative of dimming without sunlight, my solar lights are the BEE'S KNEES!

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

SOunds great GRacye- Good to get a review on the solars!
I just sat with five broken strings and DH doing crossword. Fiddling with bulbs and changing fuses. No luck at all.
THey do yield a lot of green coated wire, for garden tying, if you chop them up. It might even be pretty using them with the little bulbs on- I wonder if they'd sparkle in the sun, used as garden ties?

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Hi, You All:

I have been wondering for a long time what became of my favorite Christmas song?
I never hear it played any more.......Why? It came out about 3 years ago? more!
Did some king of politics intervene? Too religious for all faiths? WHAT?

To me, it is just the most beautiful song ever. I just tear up every time I listen to it.
Hope you remember it and love it just as much. Here--for your pleasure....

"Mary Did You Know"----

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

I got all the decorations down and put away except the icicle lights, too much snow and ice on the roof to attempt that. I may rig a hook on one of the pool cleaning poles to see if I can do that. The only thing good about taking the decorations down is that seed starting is next on the honey do list. LOL Ric
Since I have the GH I want to try Swiss Giant Pansys. I know they like cool and dark to germinate but in the GH they should not get spindly as in past attempts.

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