This holiday season is full of firsts for us. It’s the first time Clara can shout things like “I love you Santa!” to the inflatables at Home Depot (this actually happens quite often). It’s also the first time we got a real tree (even if it’s of the tabletop variety). And it’s our first real Christmas in this house (we moved last December but were still living out of boxes then). But perhaps our biggest first is actually decorating the outside of our house. We’ve never done that. Isn’t that crazy? What the heck were we waiting for? There’s definitely some magic to waiting until it gets dark, plugging everything in, and stepping back to see things glow. We should have done this years ago!
Since it’s our first outdoor decorating foray, it’s hardly one of those amazing every-inch-of-the-house-is-lit-up things. But we had some fun dipping our feet into the outdoor decorating pond by:
- adding white candle lights in every window (from Ben Franklin)
- hanging three glowing stars from the porch at varied heights (from amazon.com)
- turning an outdoor evergreen next to our driveway into an outdoor Christmas tree with red and white lights (from Target last year on clearance after Christmas)
- tossing more of those “candy cane lights” (aka: red and white lights) over the bushes that lead to the front door
- stuffing three red over-sized metal lanterns with white lights on the porch (from Ikea)
- adding two glossy red reindeer to the window (from Ben Franklin and altered with spray paint)
- making a square wreath with four sticks from the yard (and a faux boxwood garland from Ben Franklin)
Here’s a close shot of the porch so you can see the glossy red reindeer flanking a candle in the window with the tree glowing in the background and the hanging stars on the porch reflecting in the window:
Let’s step back a little so you an see a bit more of those hanging stars on the porch and some of the red & white lights in those bushes. The cool thing about hanging the stars at varied heights in front of the picture window is that their reflection doubles them- so from certain angles it looks like we have six glittering oversized stars floating over the porch instead of three.
Oh and although in person the whole red & white thing is clear, for some reason the white lights all look green in these pics (probably because they’re picking up the green in the bushes). So pretend everything is bright white and shiny red- it’s a really fun outdoor palette since so many houses are doing the all white thing- sort of looks retro and bold with our little ranch.
Here’s a super far shot from the curb where you can see our cute little evergreen-turned-Christmas-tree next to the carport. Wasn’t he just dying for some lights? And adding more red and white lights to the bushes leading to the front door sort of balanced things out.
Here’s a closer Christmas tree shot…
And here’s our little tree from the side (man do those white lights look green- so funny):
As you walk closer to the porch you can see the three red over-sized lanterns that we got from Ikea for $11 a pop.
At first we chatted about using real white pillar candles (or battery operated ones) in each lantern, but then came up with the idea of shoving a ton of white lights in each one for a festive glowing effect. So glad we did.
We just ran an extension cord to get power over to them, and each lantern has a string of white lights in it (so there are three total, that are joined together in a chain, and powered by the extension cord).
Oh and get this: apparently our neighborhood has “Secret Neighborhood Spirit Elves” who left a thank you note in our mailbox for decorating. How cute is that? Seriously, we were smitten by that unexpected little note of appreciation.
Here’s a good shot of the three hanging stars (we used plant hooks to hang them from the inside of the porch’s scalloped header).
We got these guys on amazon.com a few months back on sale (I think they’re called Moravian stars if that helps you hunt them down):
They’re actually made of hard plastic and you assemble them by snapping each of the spikes into place.
Here’s a close up shot of our red and white lights… which again look red and green. Haha. We learned that these guys are called “candy-cane lights” – charming name, right? We thought that was cute.
Oh and I mentioned that I made a little square wreath with sticks from the yard, so here’s the scoop…
I just collected four sticks that were pretty straight and broke them over my knee so they were all the same length. Then I grabbed a faux boxwood garland at a local craft store (Ben Franklin) which was 50% off (down from twelve bucks to $6). I already had green floral wire at home, so those were all the materials that I used (pardon the bad iPhone pic, John was using the good camera to photograph kitchen stuff for yesterday’s post):
As you can probably guess, I just used the floral wire to connect the four twigs in each corner to make a rough-but-charmingly-rustic square wreath shape with the sticks. Then I just wrapped the faux boxwood garland around it. Here’s a shot of the corner of the wreath that’s connected with wire (this detail is covered by the garland, but I pulled it away for this shot to show you how it’s all held together):
Oh and I already had that red “kissing ball” from a few years back (it was a sweet gift from John’s mom) which I thought looked fun in the middle of the wreath. I didn’t even have to hang a hook since it rests over the base of the door knocker. And the square wreath itself rests on the top of the door knocker, so no 3M hooks were harmed in the making of this wreath. Haha.
Oh and for anyone wondering how our oil-rubbed bronze door knocker and handle and deadbolt are holding up (more on that project here), as you can see from the pic above, they’re all still looking mint!
So yes, we are thoroughly enjoying the festive outside stuff we hung, set out, and strung up for the first time! I even named our $6 wreath Charlie because he’s kinda minimal and sparse, like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree…
And now back to those red reindeer. I found these guys at Ben Franklin when I was buying the clearance faux boxwood garland to make Charlie. At $4 a pop I couldn’t resist (they’re giant – maybe two feet tall each). They were sort of a flat brown bag color when I got them and looked to be made of paper mache. So I thought making them super shiny and bright could be fun. So one $3.50 can of high-glossy “Sunrise Red” spray paint later…
… and those babies were glossy and ceramic-animal-esque. Clara is obsessed. She can now say “red reindeer” and usually looks outside beyond them and shouts “Santa’s coming!” Not kidding. This kid is excited with a capital E.
Have you guys decorated the outside of your house? Have you ever made a wreath from sticks? Are you as crazy about square wreaths as I am? Might just be me, but I love how different they feel. Sorta modern and angular. And how about them reindeer? Are you surprised I tried my hand at bright red spray paint? I must admit, I kind of surprised myself with that choice. But I love the super bright color – so festive!
Update: You can check out all of our favorite holiday decor finds here – many of which are under $15!
It’s so funny to see those Moravian Stars. We live in Wisconsin but my husband’s family is all over Lancaster Co, PA. We go there every year around Christmas, and I’ve admired those stars for years — they’re very popular there. Finally got one last year and now I feel like I’m seeing them all over the place. I joked with my husband how Lancaster Co (full of tons of Amish) is the height of trendiness. So he thinks it’s especially funny to see them now here on your blog. I’m sure they’ll get REALLY popular now. :)
Meredith @ La Buena Vida says
I love this. It’s all great and festive without being cheesy.
Also, I feel the same way about Lizzy this year at Christmas–it’s so awesome to watch her just be fascinated with the season. We’ve been unwrapping a Christmas book each night in December to read before bed, so I can’t wait to see her reaction to presents on Christmas morning!
Do you have the lights on a timer? We just got our house and are starting from zero as well when it comes to outdoor Christmas decoration. Right now I only have some lights hanging from our bay window and will buy more on sale after Christmas for next year. But the timer was a must. It’s so convenient. Turns on at dusk, then stays on for however long you set it. We have it on for 6 hours, so it will turn off right when everybody goes to bed and doesn’t need our lights on anymore.
We also have our indoor Christmas tree on a timer from 5 pm to 11pm. You can totally juts sit back, enjoy, and never have to worry about forgetting to turn lights on or turning them off.
We don’t have a timer but it sounds awesome- we’ll have to look for one on clearance since things are already getting marked down!
[email protected] says
LOVE the stars, and the candy cane lights- but my favorite part of this post is definately the note from the neighbor elves…what a sweet idea :)
Isn’t that so much fun? We were so surprised and charmed by it!
I would love to see Clara’s face Christmas morning when she sees the presents under the tree…I’ll never forget my sons exclamation of HE CAME! HE CAME! the first year he understood about Santa leaving presents ((he’s now 22). I also remember the next year just after we put the presents under the tree and were about to go to sleep he woke up and had to go to the bathroom which meant we had to quickly move the presents because the tree was visible on the way to the bathroom. Enjoy every moment They grow up so soon!
Aw so cute! I can’t wait! I hope to catch it all on video!
Your home looks fabulous. You are ready for christmas as seen :)
I have been still dealing with christmas details…
Mmm, looks so yummy and sweet!
LOVE the stars! Going to scope out Amazon for those now.
And the reindeer – I can totally see you painting them gloss white after Christmas and adding them to your white ceramic animal collection (even though they aren’t ceramic) :) Could totally work for a winter spread or mantel :)
Haha, it’s true. Although they’re making me love a bright tomato red… might be the beginning of a new accent color around the house!
Stefanie D. says
really nice… i usually read your posts without looking who wrote and try and guess if it is john or sherry..i pretty much always get it right and i definitely knew this was a “sherry” post…i want some of those reindeer..
House looks great Sherry! One thing I’ve been meaning to tell you, I took your instructions and did the whole oil rubbed thing to my hardware on the front door and unfortunately they are not holding up. I only have one entrance to my house (back door only leads to the back patio, you can’t enter from the street there) so I use my door every day and its just wearing off. Every time I put the key in it flakes off some more and now the handle is chipping as well :( Maybe I should have done more coatings or didn’t scratch it up enough for it to adhere but mine don’t look nearly as good as yours. So sad!
Aw, so sorry to hear that! I have three suggestions:
1. make sure you rough them up with fine grit sandpaper or steel wool because if they’re too slick it’ll crack off
2. apply thin and even coats – thick ones can crack and peel and won’t stick as well
3. you might want to try adding a spray sealer or lacquer for even more durability, just keep it super thin too!
Lauren in Detroit says
Can you link to the moravian star light? Did you get the 14″ or 21″ and what was the sale price? You did such a nice job with them I’m sure I’m not the only one interested!
So sorry, it looks like the one we got isn’t on amazon.com anymore. I think ours are the 14″ size though. Or maybe 16″? Good luck!
I made a square wreath as well this year to fit our 50s door. I love square ones, they just seem a bit different.
Love the red reindeer – what a transformation and I think their size is great!
So charming! I love it!
it’s gorgeous. i’ve been excited to see your outdoor decorating and i love it (duh)!
favorite part would have to be that red and white candy-striped tree over near the carport! with those hanging stars coming in as a close second!
So many good ideas to borrow for next year! This is the first year we decorated outside. Our three-year-old kept asking for them since we are surrounded by neighbors who go all out. In the past we only put up a wreath and candles in every window.
Alison F. says
Love the red and white… that’s what we want to do when we move into a house. Also love the lanterns… move those inside for Valentines Day decorating! We’ve leave some of our white twinklies up inside ’til after Valentines Day. Helps with the after-Christmas-decoration blues! Love your blog!
Aw, I definitely get the after-Christmas blues, so I think that’s a great idea!
Krystle @ Color Transformed Family says
I love the red reindeer. Your creativity with spray paint never ceases to amaze me.
Jess @ Little House. Big Heart. says
Too cute! I love the reindeer!
This was my first time decorating outside, as well! We put multicolored lights on the house and hung oversized ornaments from our teeny front porch. We also put evergreen wreaths on all of our windows.
I think one of my favorite posts of yours (and yore) is where you decorated your porch for Halloween so I was super excited to see your new house porch all swanky for Christmas! You did a great job – I really adore the red and white theme and am loving those stars, they are my favorite part. I also made a square wreath, but it was for Halloween:
I think it’s cool that you decided to switch it up from the traditional round – your Charlie Brown wreath turned out very sweet indeed. Happy Holidays!
I love your wreath! So much fun!
Sorry to be so creepy, but I am soooo STOKED that I got a reply from YHL (I know it would be impossible to reply to every comment)! Thank you, I got all blushy! I check your site everyday and am always so inspired!
Haha, you’re sweet! So happy to have you stopping in Candace!
I absolutely LOVE the stars! I’m not sure if you’re aware, but this type of star is called a Moravian Star. I went to a little college in Bethlehem Pennsylvania, where there is a large Moravian community, so I recognized the stars right away.
The traditional Moravian star has 26 points and is a symbol of the advent. So not only do they look really pretty, they’re also a celebration of the birth of Christ. Pretty cool, eh?
Love the wreath, love the reindeer (especially in their new color) and love the stars! We’ve had a red & white theme going with our Christmas lights for several years now. We don’t have much in the way of foliage to put them on (except for a hawthorne tree that stabs you if you go near it) so our lights are on the house. I had to take clear & red light strands and unscrew & alternate them myself. It was lots of work, but I love the effect!
Historically, I’ve been one to hang a simple wreath on the door and call it done. But this year, I let my 3 year old pick the outdoor decor since he seemed so enthralled with everyone’s lights. At his chosing, we ended up with all these crazy colored lights framing our front door, windows and bushes; a wire / light framed snowman; and a wire / light framed gift… which inspired my husband and I do go one step further and add some kitsch to the mix – we found these terribly tacky pink flamingos dressed up as a Santa and rudolph that we plopped in the lawn. And this has now somehow sparked a competition with the neighbors across the street who have been adding to the collection of creatures on our lawn – the most recent addition being a garden statue of brutus wearing a Santa hat and loin cloth. I am both curious and horrified to imagine what the house will look like by Christmas eve. To say this has been a “different” Christmas (decor-wise) would be a dramatic understatement.
It sure seems like a letter from an elf deserves to be framed and put on the wall. That, my dear, is a rare find!
I know, right? It’s a magical time of year indeed!
Lindsey @ arkadian belle woods says
You guys did awesome! It’s a killer mix of traditional Christmas with the YHL modern twist. I love it!
Do you have a link for the movarian lights or all gone :(
I think it’s actually spelled moravian. Maybe if you go to amazon and put that in you’ll see them? Or just google it to see what pops up? Good luck!
[email protected] Our Home From Scratch says
Love those reindeer and the outside Christmas tree! Nice to see you guys go all out. We aren’t doing too much outside this year with all the work inside going on…
We did finish our inside decorations though..
So sweet! I love that tree and the reindeer of course!
Leslie N says
Everything looks amazing guys!!! LOVE the lanterns and the 3 stars. Looks great!
Oh my gosh, it looks gorgeous! And I love the Christmas Spirit Elves thank you note idea – genius! I’ll totally be doing that next year!
You have inspired me to do more this year than just throw a wreath up on all the windows and door. Now I just need to figure out what to do with no electricity outside (there is oddly no outlet!).
[email protected]&Style says
You guys really rock! The tree and the stars are amazeballs!
You’re my inspiration!
I love your outdoor decorations! I bugged my husband every year for the last 16 years to hang lights up outside. Well, we bought a house in a court this past September and every weekend since Thanksgiving we’ve watched our neighbors putting up lights. As it came down to our house and one other not having any lights, my husband finally sucked it up and hung them for me. :) I love them, and like you two, we have started out small with the hopes of adding more each year. Maybe we’ll one day be the Griswold’s. LOL
On a totally random note, as I was driving home this morning from taking my monkeys to school I started thinking about ORB and paining my door knobs in it. Then I wondered how the paint held up on your door. Weird that when I read your post this morning you mentioned it! Go figure!! Wow, sorry for the long winded note!! I see what my hubby means now…;)
I love the stars on your porch. I actually have one as well. My Dad grew up in the Moravian church and although I’m sure the star isn’t exclusive to them I always think of his childhood church and my grandparents when I see them around. The star makes me so happy! My grandparents on my dad’s side have since passed away but seeing those stars at Christmas time is a lovely and happy reminder of them. Looks great!
So sorry for your loss, but you’re right – it’s such a sweet way to remember them! I hope you find yourself hanging one soon!
At least your first was not a “Griswald” moment. Looks nice. Love the wreath!
Totally Charming!! I love the use of red and white together. And I’m SO digging the red reindeer in the window.
Beautiful! Just popped on over to Pinterest, and of course several of your pics are already pinned! It’s amazing how quickly your ideas become inspiration for others :)
Aw, that’s so sweet. I always get caught off guard when I see our stuff over there. Like…what’s that doing here?! Haha. It shocks me every time.
WONDERFUL! Love it! So charming yet stunning at the same time! Way to go :). Yes, I’ve been busy decorating on this end (in reply to your end of post question). I have a similar red/white/green palette on our porch and mantel and have even saved a white ceramic reindeer (who sent out an SOS)! I know you guys are super busy but I’ll post the links below incase you wanted to head over to my blog to take a peek. The kitchen reno is gorgeous but it’s fun to see your festive posts too. You guys are the best! Merry Christmas :)
So much fun! Love all the links!
Good job! Everything looks great.
Kelsey D says
Oh my! It all looks amazing, but I think I have an unhealthy love of those reindeer! So modern, retro and perfect!
Love the square wreath, very cool! I too went the red reigndeer route as the primary feature of my fireplace holiday decor (10 pics down):
They are mostly eBay purchases.
Love them! And I’m actually back on the eBay train after years of not using it! I’ll have to post about the Clara-related purchase I made (hoping it comes this week!).
Your home looks so lovely. Perfect holiday decorations! Love the shoots of your home that show the moon.
Laura S says
Love the Moravian Stars. I am Moravian & grew up about a mile from Old Salem in Winston-Salem. They have the most beautiful candlelight service. My husband & I moved last December to Texas so we decided to bring a little NC traditions here. There is a neighborhood in Greensboro that hangs these handmade lighted spheres from their trees. They are made with chicken wire & Christmas lights. I attached the link and a picture of the ones we made. Our picture isn’t great but you get the idea!
Ashley @ Lewis in Love says
That’s so lovely. If we decorated the outside of our house, and if I knew how to achieve what I wanted, it would look just like that :)
It looks beautiful! I love everything about it – the stars, lanterns, bright red reindeers, the evergreen – all of it!
Love the red reindeer – may need to steal that idea. We have a “Lady Gaga Wreath” on our front door. Whipped together last year with wreath foam and clearance garland.
Love that Clara says hi to Santa at Home Depot. When my Lillyana was two we were in line at Sam’s Club when a gentleman was behind us with a long white beard. Lilly looked him dead in the eye lovingly and said, “Hi Santa. I love you.” He smileed politely and everyone around us laughed. Ahhh children….
Oh my gosh! Clara called a large gentleman at a restaurant “Santa!!! Look! Santa!!!” – it was hilarious and a little embarrassing. But he took it like a champ.
LOVE it all, especially the lanterns, stars, and outdoor tree!
Everything is so gorgeous! I, especially, love your Moravian Stars. Being Moravian and living in Winston-Salem, NC, they hold a special place in my heart. Old Salem is such a wonderful place to visit at Christmas time. And have you ever had Moravian sugar cake? Simply the most delicious thing ever!
Mmm, sounds awesome! It’s definitely on our places-to-take-Clara list!
Beth Ann says
in LOVE with those starts. must.get.some.
Beth Ann says
STARS…not starts…STARS! ;)
Haha, I knew what you meant!
Ashley Bird says
First off the house looks gorgeous! And second don’t you just love the IKEA lanterns! They are so cute and cheap!
Yes! I can’t believe they were so big and so cheap!
Love the simplicity of it. Looks festive without being over the top or real mismatchy (which so many people do in our neighborhood).
I also wanted to let you know, we have that EXACT same door knocker. Haha and we use ours for hanging wreaths as well. I’m not sure we’ve ever “properly” hung one haha.
Haha- love it!
I love love love your outdoor decorations! I think the lanterns with the lights is such a great idea! I will be pinning it to share :)
…now you just need some snow….still waiting for our’s in Ottawa (Canada) too!
Haha- we’re not sure if we’ll have any snow this year! It’s actually not that common for Richmond to get snow, which is why the surprise moving day snow last year was crazy!