20 Ways to Magically Light Your Home at Christmas (that aren’t a tree)

What types of lights are available?

  • Battery-Operated Metallic String Lights. These are ideal for installations where plug-in lights would be impossible or unsightly. They automatically come on at the same time every day and stay lit for six hours. This means that you can use them almost anywhere AND the battery will last a few weeks. If you buy rechargeable batteries and a charger, you can save money over time.
  • “Outdoor” Solar Lights. These lights work well near a window so the solar panel can be placed against the window pane. They even come in colors such as pink!
  • Battery-Operated Candle Lights. These lights have a sensor which detects outdoor light. This allows them to automatically come on at dusk and stay on for many hours afterwards. This means the batteries last between Thanksgiving and New Years without replacing.
  • Wired Lights. These work well when an outlet is nearby and the lights can be installed without the cord showing.
Glass Vase. These battery-operated metallic string lights intertwine with antique mercury glass ornaments in a large glass vase.
Domed Cake Stand. These battery-operated metallic string lights and boa surround a vignette placed on a cake stand and topped with a glass cloche. The vignette includes a house from World Market and bottle brush tree such as these.
Ornaments in a bowl. Here, battery-operated metallic string lights intertwine with antique ornaments and boa in a large decorative bowl.
Shadow box. To create this shadow box, a Christmas saying was designed, printed and matted to serve as the backing. A crescent moon was hung and some favorite miniatures: a Corvette, an Airstream trailer , and bottle brush trees similar to these, were placed in the bottom, along with some fake snow.
Wreaths. Wreaths are ideal for battery-operated metallic string lights since no unsightly cords will hang below.
Centerpiece. These battery-operated metallic string lights twist around garland, pearls, lace and a boa surrounding candelabras with pink candles.
Chandelier. Battery-operated metallic string lights are ideal for a chandelier Add ornaments, boa and pearls for extra interest. Garland and lace could also work well.
Indoor Plants. Pink solar lights intertwine with herbs planted in a rustic wooden planter on a kitchen windowsill.
Behind a Fireplace Screen. These wired lights are hung behind a stained glass fireplace screen. Please see our tutorial on how to create this screen.
Gingerbread House. Battery-operated metallic string lights are used both inside and surrounding a gingerbread house. For tips on creating this house, please see this post
Christmas Card Display. These battery-operated metallic string lights surround an entry closet door. Decorative clothespins are used to attach Christmas cards as they arrive. The center of the door features an antique card sent by the original owner of the home.
Candle Lights in Windows. These Battery-Operated Candle Lights conserve energy through the light sensor. The candle is surrounded with garland, wire lights, pearls, lace, and a boa. Above the candle lights hangs a crystal snowflake ornament.
Atop a Mantle. These battery-operated metallic string lights illuminate a collection of vintage Santas amongst garland, lace, pearls, and boas. Other decorations include a Santa advent calendar, ivory stockings, and round ornaments placed on candlestick holders.
China Cabinet. These battery-operated metallic string lights help to illuminate Bavarian china, though the glass front of a china cabinet. An ornament hangs on the door.
Garland. Garlands can be created from tree decorations and hung above windows and mirrors. With battery-operated metallic string lights there is no need to be near an outlet.
Front of a Shelf. These battery-operated metallic string lights illuminate a yard-long print and a boa.
Plate Display Rack. Battery-operated metallic string lights front a plant display rack decorated with vintage Santa figurines, boas, and Bavarian china dishes
Bathroom window. “Outdoor” Solar Lights are ideal to surround a bathroom window even indoors since wired lights would be unsafe above a bathtub. These lights are relaxing for warm winter bubble baths. A glittery miniature tree sits in the copper tray on the windowsill. In the spring, seeds will be planted here.
Atop an Armoire. These battery-operated metallic string lights draw attention to the framed Christmas tree created with ornaments.
Headboard. These wired lights pair with a pink boa above a headboard. To learn how to create this headboard, please see this tutorial.

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Some posts on this site include affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that the opinions expressed are entirely our own.


Magical Lights in the Fairy Garden

Make a little magic using solar LED twinkle lights in your fairy garden. Instructions and recommended plants are included.

I enjoy growing flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruit, but my favorite yearly project is always my fairy garden.  One year, I was installing solar twinkle lights over an arbor and I thought it might be pretty if I could do the same to the arbor in my fairy garden.arbor at night


Here is a list of the materials you need

Large container with drainage holes (e.g., half whisky barrel, wheelbarrow, tub)

Potting soil with fertilizer

Drip irrigation kit (optional)

Structures (e.g., arbor, gazebo, house)

Decorative elements (e.g., ponds, birdbath, furniturefencing,

Decorative stakes that add height like an oversized solar moon, weathervane or a birdhouse 


Garden staples

Solar LED wire lights

I initially started with solar lights that looked a lot like the lights you might use at Christmas.   However, I later switched to these solar LED wire string lights and they have been going strong for months now.  I actually have found all kinds of garden uses for these and even have some inside some windows in my house to brighten things up when the sun goes down early in the winter.  I especially love these pink solar lights that intermingle with my culinary herbs inside my kitchen window.

The ones that I bought had 100 lights on the string.  That may seem like a lot, but I thought it was just right.   Here is what they look like when they first arrive:


Once you have all of your materials, fill the container with potting soil until it is just a few inches below the top. You will fill it to the top later when you are almost done.  Lay out all of the larger structures and plants until you have a general idea of where you want everything to be. You will then need to move some items in and out while you install the irrigation and lighting.


It is not required, but if you live somewhere hot and dry like me, you might need to water as much as twice a day unless you are using a drip system.  I use drip irrigation on a timer for all of my containers, and I first started with a Drip Irrigation Kit for Containers  which are quite easy to use.  This kit would water several containers, not just your fairy garden.  For more information about drip irrigation, please see The Beginner’s Guide to Using Drip Irrigation in your Container Garden.

With that said, drip irrigation is a must if you want to successfully grow plants in miniature containers like these in a hot climate.  I insert an emitter directly into the bottom of the planters and urns.  This takes some fiddling around to get it right.  I also arrange one emitter such that it will drip into the little pond and therefore stay full of water all summer.  Garden staples are helpful in getting the drip irrigation installed if you want to do some of these extras.  For more information on this, see 6 Creative Uses for Drip Irrigation .


Install the solar string lights starting  at the end nearest the solar panel.  Unfortunately, the lights are kind of far apart, so it is sometimes necessary to twist or loop the wire around so that the lights are closer together.  I like using the lights in a way that you cannot see a continuous string of lights.  Instead, some are hidden under plants or gravel such that the lighting appears to start and stop in different places. This year, I added solar light strings over a “patio”, which is really an old mosaic stepping stone.

When I’m done, any leftover lights are placed in the house so it looks like the fairies are at home.


Place your plants a little above the soil line, remember that you will add the rest of the soil later.

I especially like alyssum (pink) and lobelia (bright blue) because I can buy them quite reasonably at a flat sale every year.  These light blue ageratum are also nice, but only when they are planted towards the very back because they get tall.

Garden 2013 (9)

Some kind of miniature tree is also a nice addition. My favorite is this mini variegated olive.P1030816

I use Wire Vine over the arbor (left) and Isotoma Laurentia (right) which has tiny little blue flowers.  These two plants are great because they often come back after a mild winter.

If you want a vegetable garden, simply break the tips off the branches of succulents and place them in the soil to mimic tiny cabbages.  They will eventually take root, needing only a little water.

cabbage crop

Lastly, I use some premium annuals such as Baby’s Tears (left) or Leptinella (center) which looks like tiny fern plants.  I also like Irish moss (right) because it looks so much like grass.  

To learn more about fairy garden plants, visit fairygardening.com


Once the plants are planted, add a couple inches of soil to the top covering the drip irrigation and solar lighting.  Add some rocks for decorations or paths.  Here is a path made of expanded shale.


Add fun little extras (e.g., furniture, fencing, decorative stakes, etc). I have a lot of trouble restraining myself on this step.  I really tend to junk it up!  For me, that is part of the fun.


Keep the garden watered and cut plants back by half when they get tall or scraggly, which is what happened here..

2014-05-26 09.17.11-3

I hope that you enjoy creating your own magical fairy garden!

Make a little magic using solar wire LED twinkle lights in your fairy garden. Instructions and recommended plants are also included.

Some posts on this site include affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that the opinions expressed are entirely our own.