Christmas Lights Alternatives You Should Know About

The festive holiday season instills feelings of joy, gratitude, and hospitality in many folks. Many homeowners look forward to reflecting these feelings by incorporating holiday décor that says, "Welcome!" to family and friends.

While your family may have traditions when it comes to holiday decorating, there are some years when you're quite busy, or you're not feeling up to the task of dragging totes out of the attic or garage and testing bulbs to see why the lights won't turn on. Or perhaps this year, you're prioritizing saving time and energy while being mindful of the environment. Luckily, there are many alternatives to Christmas lights that prove to be sustainable and environmentally friendly. In fact, some run on solar power, per Greener Ideal. Plus, you'll love the fact that they still convey the holiday spirit and best of all, they don't involve having to climb a ladder or connecting more extension cords.

Solar string lights

If you're looking for a "green" Christmas light alternative, solar is the way to go, according to Popular Science. Not only do you save on your electric bill, but you also use less power than standard electric lights. However, make no mistake about the effectiveness of solar power; these lights shine brightly. Plus, you need not worry about the exposure of cords because some sets of solar lights are waterproof.

For instance, the Brizled Solar String Lights come with two small solar panels that recharge the battery. The lights consist of LED units attached to 80 feet of copper wiring. This particular set is waterproof, and the solar panels are hooked up to the lights — so no extensions needed.  Another feature entails the 10 to 12 hour luminescence, so being that the lights are solar powered, you won't need a timer or a switch to shut them down.

Outdoor bulbs in festive hues

According to Cnet, another alternative to stringing up Christmas lights is to use your outdoor fixtures. By changing the clear or white bulbs to red, green, yellow, or any festive hue of your choice, you'll change your everyday outdoor lighting to a holiday display. As an illustration of this Christmas lights alternative, if you have lights along the path leading up to your front door or surrounding the perimeter of your front yard, you can change the LED bulbs (if possible) to red and green which typically represents the Christmas season. 

Additionally, for a sparkling effect, blue would stand out, especially if you get snow this winter. Can you picture the glittery, azure reflection on the ground? If you have a light post in the middle of your yard, try changing the bulb to red or green and then wrapping an evergreen garland around it for a North Pole scene.


This tradition dates back to the Spanish explorers 400 years ago, who would light bonfires to keep their comrades from getting lost in the dark on the way back to the camp, as noted in the New Mexico History Museum Blog. As time passed, the bonfires evolved into a smaller version that became a southwestern Christmas tradition.

Today's luminarias make perfect Christmas lights alternatives if you want to try a whole new look that's simple yet brilliant (no pun intended). You simply fill small paper bags with sand, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac. Instead of using real candles, you can place battery-powered artificial tea lights inside. From there, you line up the luminarias along the walkways or around the perimeter of your yard. If you run short of time, you can always purchase a set of artificial luminarias which still add that southwestern mystique to your lighting arrangement.

Outdoor projectors

When you want to decorate in a simple manner that still stands out from the rest of the block, an outdoor projector gives you that option, according to Family Handyman. By plugging in your projector and positioning it to where the image covers most of the façade, you'll get instant snowflakes, Christmas trees, Santas, and just about any other holiday-related image flying all over the front of your house. If you have a wider space to cover, you might need to include a second projector. 

By using outdoor projectors, you'll achieve the illusion of having covered the entire front, visible area of your home with tiny Christmas lights — but without all of the work of connecting strings together, climbing up and down a ladder, and finding an outlet. Also, most projectors are fabricated to withstand the elements, so you shouldn't have any concerns about precipitation or exposed cords. 

Smart Christmas lights

If you're in the mood to string up some lights while still avoiding the rooftop and treetops, you can incorporate smart lights as a Christmas light alternative, as noted by Family Handyman. With some products, you'll exchange the bulbs in your outdoor fixtures for seasonal options. Then with the use of a remote or an app that's downloaded to your smartphone, you can control the lights' brightness as well as turn them off.  

Other selections resemble the glass bulbs that hang across a porch or patio. However, these are easy to install with connected hooks and guide wire. Plus, you'll find varieties that come in different colors. Another fun quality involves a bluetooth speaker that's installed into the bulb which you control from your smartphone. By downloading the app for this feature, you can play your favorite carols, make the light pulse or blink, or change the light color. 

Battery operated lights

Yet another energy-saving Christmas lighting alternative, as mentioned in the We Be Christmas blog, involves finding products that are powered by batteries which means saying goodbye to outlets and extension cords. Another benefit to using battery operated lights involves safety; they're non-flammable since they contain LED bulbs that don't emit heat. And because there's no need to plug them in, you won't have to worry about an electrical mishap when installing them outdoors. You can also take a string of lights and weave them into an evergreen garland or a wreath.

Just in case you're wondering about the battery life, again, there's no cause for concern. These batteries tend to run longer than your regular alkaline or lithium batteries since LED bulbs don't sap the life out of them at a fast pace. Therefore, you're looking at a decent battery life for the duration of the season.

Jar lights

Instead of traditional Christmas lights, battery-operated lights or candles can also be placed in jars and then strategically arranged indoors or outdoors to compliment your Christmas decorations. As mentioned in The Lightbulb Company's blog, you can recycle empty glass jars and add LED tealights or tapered candles to make mini-lanterns. 

Additionally, you can gather some strings of copper wire and battery-operated lights in festive colors — like the Quishi LED Fairy Lights – and coil them before placing them inside of jars of various sizes to make a creative, eye-catching display. Or to achieve a warm, holiday look for both Christmas and New Year's Eve, you can opt for a set of Brite Star Glass Globes which fit well in jars with wide openings. The best part about repurposing jars as a Christmas lights alternative is that you can save the arrangements for next year or change out the lights to decorate for parties or Halloween.

Pre-lit yard displays

For a fun Christmas lights alternative that wows the neighbors and brings smiles to children's faces, try displaying pre-lit decorations, as noted by The Lightbulb Company. One tip to keep in mind (per Home Depot) is to measure the size of your front yard in proportion to the size of the decorations. In fact, you might consider taking a photo of your front yard for reference while shopping. This will help you to visualize the display and to avoid purchasing items that are too large and gaudy. Your neighbors will thank you.

One idea is to include Santa's sleigh and team of reindeer "prancing" across the lawn. Or you can find a variety of Christmas-related figures such as snowmen and elves. Another timeless look is to mimic nature by placing deer in various spots on the lawn. The overall perk to this decorative idea is the ease of setup and take-down.

Faux candles

Likewise, if you wish to keep the Christmas décor simple while still conveying the joy and warmth of the season, you can incorporate faux candles. This is another battery powered Christmas lights alternative that applies to both indoor and outdoor decorating. The advantages of using faux (or battery powered) candles involves not having to keep an eye on them and not having to change them out often, considering that the real wax candles don't last for very long, as noted in The Spruce.

Faux candles are also quite versatile; you can place clusters of pillar candles in your window sills or taper candles in candelabras or any other elegant holder. From a curbside view, they give off a warm glow the rings in the holiday season. Another tip is to place a small to medium side pillar candle inside of a lantern for a beautiful window or outdoor arrangement.

Flood lights

Finally, the easiest Christmas lights alternative employs the use of festively-colored flood lights. According to Apartment Therapy, you won't have to spend all day on outdoor decorating — all you have to do is to find a strategic spot where you can camouflage the device or devices. Once you turn on the light, different areas of your yard and home will be sectioned off by the different colors. In other words, one half will have a red glow while the other is green. Additionally, if you have a panoramic display, white or gold floodlights can draw attention to that focal point.

Tis' the season to get creative with your outdoor décor, so try some different arrangements with these Christmas lights alternatives. You'll lose the chore of untangling and hanging lights on the house or the trees and the expensive electric bill since some of these gadgets run on battery or solar power.