Favorite Ideas for Decorating Outdoors For Christmas?

Maybe it's that stores have been blasting Christmas music since Halloween, or that my festive neighbors have had green and red lights illuminating their bushes for weeks, but with Thanksgiving under our (bulging) belts, I'm looking forward to entering the next holiday season. Not ready for a Christmas tree, but ready to trade out the gourds and pumpkins for a little outdoor holiday flair. But every year I wonder if there is a way to do it that doesn't look tacky?Yes, friends will argue that there's no such thing as classy holiday decorating when it comes to the outdoors, but I really can't resist. There won't be 8 foot blow up Santa snow globes anchored to our balcony or a fleet of reindeer scampering across the front yard, but there are going to be at least a few bits of holiday sparkle. My holiday favorites are usually the simplest:

• White lights in place of flowers. Empty flower urns and hanging baskets is one of my saddest tasks— I hate seeing them sit empty for six months. So I love the idea of filing them with something festive that doesn't require hardly any maintenance at all.

• Wreaths in natural materials. I have been eying Martha Stewart's moss wreath for a few years, and might just give it a shot this Christmas. To see a video tutorial, visit her website.

• Candles in each window. There are endless varieties of safe electric versions of the traditional holiday window tapers. My favorites are the battery operated varieties that have a way of adhering to the window sill.

And that's where my list runs out. What are your favorite ways to bring out a little holiday sparkle in style?

Images: 1-3: Better Homes & Gardens, 4: Martha Stewart, 5: Alien Spouse

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