80 Cheap & Easy Outdoor Christmas Decorating Ideas - Backyard Boss
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80 Cheap & Easy Outdoor Christmas Decorating Ideas

With the holiday season just around the corner, it’s time to pull out your Christmas lights and festive yard ornaments. I have always made it a goal to light up our neighborhood with my outdoor décor, bringing some fun and joy to everyone that passes by. However, all of that decorating comes at a cost!

Store-bought holiday decorations can come with a hefty price tag, especially if you’re trying to decorate a larger space. The good news is that you don’t have to break the bank to create an eye-catching holiday display.

In this guide, we have put together 80 ideas for cheap and easy outdoor Christmas décor. This includes low-cost solutions that can be purchased at your local dollar store or big box store, as well as some creative ideas for the crafters and DIY lovers among us. We have options for any style or size of space!

Table of Contents

Build a Tree from a Pole and String Lights

Vibrant Christmas Light Tree in Christmas Light Garden
Image credits: Aaron Hawkins via Canva

Most homeowners have a few strings of Christmas lights on hand for decorating. The challenge becomes what to do with them to make the biggest impact. If you’re looking to do something different this year, why not use your lights to create a beautiful, eye-catching Christmas tree for your front yard? All you need (in addition to your lights) is a tall pole, a large flowerpot, dirt or concrete, and a set of anchors or stakes.

To start, you need to anchor the pole to prevent it from blowing over. This is done by placing one end in the flowerpot and then using the dirt or concrete to fill around it. Another alternative, if you happen to have them on hand, would be to use rocks and stones. Regardless of which option you use, take care to make sure that your center pole is secure. Place your center pole in your yard where you want the final tree to stand. Alternatively, you can anchor the pole directly into the ground in your yard where you want to build your tree.

Next, you will need to attach your lights to the center pole on one end, allowing them to hang down towards the ground. One at a time, stretch your lights out way from the center pole until they are at an angle of approximately 45 degrees before anchoring them securely in the ground. Space your lights out as evenly as possible around the center pole. When you’re finished, plug your lights in and watch a brightly lit tree appear right before your eyes.

For more detailed instructions, check out our post outlining how to make an outdoor Christmas tree made of lights.

Transform Your Garage Door into a Snowman

Florida Home Decorated for Christmas
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This is an incredibly easy and low-cost decoration for anyone that has a white garage door. All you need is some fabric or plastic in black and orange, and a large red fabric bow. Out of the black fabric, cut out a large black top hat and several black circles to use as lumps of coal. From the orange, you need to create a large carrot for your snowman’s nose. Using double-sided tape, use your cut-outs to assemble the face on the front of your garage door. For the hat, angle it slightly across one of the top corners. Make sure to hang it high enough that it won’t catch on your vehicle if you are planning to use the door. Finish off the top hat by adding the red bow and your snowman will be ready to greet any visitors with a smile.

Make a Simple Holiday Lighted Sign

Merry Christmas Sign Lights
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The supplies needed to create your own lighted sign for the coming holiday season can all be found at your local Dollar Tree. This includes a canvas or wooden sign base, acrylic paint, and a string of battery-operated lights. Sketch your sign design onto your canvas. This could be a festive word or a recognizable holiday image. Count the number of bulbs on your string of lights and mark where you want them to come through on the sign. Carefully make a hole just large enough to fit the bulb using a craft knife or a drill.

After you have all the holes in place for your lights, you can paint your sign. Choose assorted colors that will stand out during the daytime including traditional Christmas colors or any other color palette needed to match your decorating theme. When the paint has dried, carefully poke each of the lights through the sign. If the hole is too large to hold them in place, use a small piece of electrical tape on the back. Hang your sign and enjoy the festive flair that it will add to any space.

Incorporate Christmas Gifts Made from Wooden Blocks

Christmas presents gifts outdoors in rural nature in frosty winter
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We often decorate Christmas trees around the yard, but is the look really complete without presents under the tree? You may be excited to know that you can make decorative Christmas presents out of simple blocks of wood. It’s a great way to make use of scraps that you may have sitting in your garage or basement.

If necessary, cut the block of wood down to the size desired for your present. Using spray paint designed for use on wood outdoors like the Krylon ColorMaster Paint and Primer, carefully paint your gift in the desired color. After it has had a chance to dry, complete the look by tying a ribbon around it complete with a bow on top. Use a single present to decorate a table or window box, or create a pile of presents under each of your outdoor trees for some extra holiday cheer.

Turn Your Home into a Gingerbread House with DIY Paper Plate Candies

Colored paper plates on a bright green background.
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Embrace the fun this season and surprise your holiday guests by transforming your house into a giant gingerbread house with the help of some oversized peppermint candies. This is a fun decorating idea with very little cost. For each peppermint candy, you will need a white paper plate, a colored Sharpie marker, and some cellophane wrap. Using your marker, draw the spiral pattern seen on your favorite peppermint candy across the bottom of the plate. You can do this with the traditional red or try assorted colors for a fun twist. Wrap your candy with cellophane, twisting the wrapper closed on each side. These candies can be used as a fun wall decoration or string them together to create a garland of sweets.

Add Logs and LED Lights to Your Firepit for A Festive Glow

Logs and Lights in Decorative Christmas Fireplace, Closeup
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Some of the best budget-friendly outdoor decorations take advantage of the items already present in your yard. If you have a fire pit in your yard, you can give it a festive glow using some bright lights and a few logs of wood. Arrange the logs in a carefully balanced teepee as if you were building an actual fire. Carefully wrap your lights in and around the base of your teepee before turning them on and watching your holiday fire come to life.

Use Plastic Cups to Make Sparkly Light Balls

Christmas Plastic cup light ball
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Do you have a stash of clear plastic cups sitting around at home from your last holiday party or get-together? You can use these cups to create a sparkling ball of light that will draw compliments from all your neighbors. These are a great option for adding some drama to your patio space or decorating nearby branches with lights that can be seen easily by anyone visiting. You will need a string of 50 LED Christmas lights, 50 plastic cups, and a stapler.

Carefully cut a small hole in the bottom of each of the cups using a sharp craft knife. This whole does not need to be large, just big enough for a single LED bulb to fit through. Take 12 cups, placing them in a circle with the bottom of the cups in the middle. Using your stapler, attach these cups securely to one another. From here, you can slowly build up the top of your light ball by adding a second layer of cups offset from the first. This means that each cup will be attached so that it sits in the space between two cups on the original role. Continue this until it forms a half-circle of cups. This will take half of your cups. Repeat the process, making a second cup structure.

Take your Christmas lights and carefully poke one light through the bottom of each of the cups, first completing one side before moving on to the second. Bring the two sides together, sandwiching your string of lights in the middle, with the power cord extending out where it’s accessible. Carefully staple the halves together to create your complete sparkle ball. When you plug your string of lights in, the cups will reflect the light creating a beautiful lighting effect.

Combine Pool Noodles and Ornaments for a Holiday Wreath

Pool Noodles Bright Colors
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Have you ever considered trying your hand making your own festive holiday wreath? Begin by taking a single pool noodle, bending it into a large circle with the two ends coming together, and securing it in this shape with duct tape. This will be your wreath form. Next, you will need many Christmas ornaments in the color(s) of your choice including ornaments of different textures and sizes. Keep your costs down by purchasing your ornaments at Dollar Tree or a similar bargain store.

Using a glue gun to hold everything in place, carefully glue your ornaments onto the wreath form one at a time starting with your largest ornaments. Your smallest ornaments can be used to fill in any holes, hiding the pool noodle completely from view. If you want to add a little more festive cheer, you can decorate your wreath by incorporating tinsel, battery-operated lights, or other decorative ornaments.

Stack and Paint Wood Logs for a Rustic Snowman

Snowman made in wood logs
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Create a fun, festive snowman that isn’t going to melt when the weather starts to warm up using logs from your woodpile. You will need three logs that are roughly the same width for the snowman himself and a fourth log that is slightly narrower than the rest to serve as his top hat. Carefully remove any bark from the logs and round the edges of the three main body pieces using a jigsaw to make them look more like snowballs. Sand them as needed to allow the logs to sit one on top of the other. You will also need to drill a hole large enough to hold a stick on both sides of the middle log for arms and on the front of the top log for your snowman’s carrot nose. Finally, you will need a thin sheet of wood cut into a circle to serve as the brim of the top hat.

Using outdoor spray paint suitable for wood, paint the three pieces of your snowman’s body with white, the smaller log and the round base black for the top hat, and a smaller stick orange for a carrot nose. Carefully assemble these logs to build your snowman. You can secure them together or leave them as separate pieces for easy storage. Using wood glue, fit branches into the two side holes to give your snowman arms and attach your carrot nose in the same way to the front. Paint small circles of black coal for your snowman’s eyes, mouth, and buttons. Finish the look by tying a warm winter scarf around his neck.

Use a Ladder as a Rustic Shelving Display

Shelves with Decorations and Christmas Lights near White Wall
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While some decorations are large statement pieces, others are smaller and require a little extra attention to detail. These items may not be the bold and eye-catching displays that can be seen clearly from the street when driving past, but that doesn’t mean that they should be avoided. In fact, some of the most meaningful displays are more subtle, set up more for you and your family to enjoy than they are for others.

If you are looking for a creative way to display your smaller decorations, here’s a great solution. You can build a display shelf out of a traditional utility ladder and some planks of wood. After deciding where you want your display to be, set up the ladder in the middle of that space with the steps pointing off to the side. Take your planks and lay them across each of the steps of the ladder. Lay your planks of wood across the steps on each side of the ladder to form shelves.

When your shelves are in place, it’s time to decorate! Wrap rope lights or fairy lights around the ladder to give it a festive glow. You can also tie in other colorful ornaments and decorative elements including burlap ribbon, fresh greenery, gift boxes, and faux snow. If this is a permanent display, you may choose to spray paint the ladder and the boards so that everything matches seamlessly. Set it up just for the holiday season or change your shelf decorations for each holiday and event.

Make Lighted PVC Presents

Christmas Presents Illuminated at Night
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We already talked about making decorative presents using a block of wood, but what about presents that light up and add a festive glow to your outdoor space. To begin, build a box shape out of lengths of PVC piping and 3-way PVC fittings. This will determine the size of your finished present, so keep that in mind when selecting and cutting your supplies. Take a strip of LED Christmas lights and attach them to one side of your box. You can run the lights along the PVC for a lighting effect that glows specifically around the edges or string them back and forth across the middle for a more uniform lighting solution.

When your lights are all in place, wrap your box using a thin fabric or PVC film. This is where you will incorporate some color or holiday patterns into your design. Secure this wrapping along the sides of your present and avoid overlapping it as that will interfere with the ability of the lights to shine through. Finish off your presents by wrapping and tying a bright ribbon with a large bow.

Paint Plastic Pumpkins for a Budget-Friendly Snowman

Pumpkin snowman
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Throughout the fall season, especially in the lead-up to Halloween, many dollar stores carry plastic pumpkins that are used for decorating for the spooky season. However, when the season comes to an end, these decorations are either stashed away for next year or they find their way into the landfill. If you find yourself with an abundance of pumpkins, why not repurpose them and create some new festive porch décor?

To start, paint 3 plastic pumpkins white for the body of your snowman. Get creative with one of your pumpkins, painting a festive snowman face complete with a carrot nose and a big smile. If you are making multiple snowmen, give each their own unique face and personality. Stack your three pumpkins one on top of the next and secure them using a hot glue gun. Then, it’s time to accessorize! Add a cute hat, a scarf, buttons down his chest, and branches for arms.

If you are going to be using your snowmen outside and are worried about whether they will blow away, you may want to add rocks or some other form of weight in the bottom pumpkin before putting them all together.

Light the Way with Mason Jar Lanterns

Christmas Fairy Lights in a Mason Jar
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Rather than stringing up normal holiday lights this season, you can add a rustic touch to your outdoor décor by creating your own mason jar lanterns. Take an empty mason jar and a piece of wire, winding it around the top of the jar to create a hanger. Decorate your jar to match your outdoor décor. This could include adding ribbon that matches your color scheme, attaching sprigs of greenery or other holiday-themed decorations, or painting designs right onto the jar. When you’re finished decorating, place a string of battery-operated Christmas lights in the jar and hang your lantern from your porch or a tree in your front yard.

Hang a Holiday Clothesline

Santa clothing hanging on a clothes line
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Are you looking for quick and easy holiday porch décor for the coming holiday season? This may be one of the easiest options out there and you’re sure to receive compliments from your friends and family for your fun and quirky display. Hang a single string of LED tree lights up from one post to the next like a clothesline, allowing it to hang down ever so slightly. From these lights, hang the pieces of Santa’s outfit. If you happen to also have a cute little elf outfit, you can add it to your line too. Plug in your lights and watch your porch transform into the porch of Santa’s home up in the North Pole.

Gather Several Evergreen Boughs for an Understated Wreath Alternative

Christmas Wreath
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A fun alternative to the traditional holiday wreaths, this year ditch the round wreath forms entirely. Instead, you can create a beautiful door display using boughs of greenery, pinecones, and ribbon. To begin, lay your boughs out with the base of each branch together and allow the ends of the boughs to fan out slightly. Tie a piece of twine or wind a small wire around the base to hold them firmly together. Taking your pinecones, add a thin piece of ribbon to the base of each using a hot glue gun. Cut the ribbon long enough to glue the end to the spot that you just tied while the pinecones hang down approximately in the middle of your fan of evergreen. Top it off by placing a large decorative holiday bow to cover the tie and you have a simple, festive display for your door.

Create a Snowman with Grapevine Wreaths

Woman Making A Christmas Grapevine Wreath
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Grapevine wreaths are a holiday staple and can usually be found in any dollar store, big-box store, or craft store. This decorating idea takes those simple wreath forms and transforms them into something fun and creative. You will need two wreaths in slightly different sizes, white spray paint, a string of battery-operated white lights with white cords, a glue gun, and some holiday decorations.

Spray paint your two wreaths white, being careful to cover all exposed vines. Laying one wreath above the other, attach them together to create the form of a snowman with its head and body. Taking your lights, wrap them all around your newly created wreath form. Tie a ribbon or some other form of a hanger to the top of the smaller wreath and then it’s time to decorate! Using your glue gun, start decorating your snowman by adding a hat on its head, a scarf or ribbon around its neck, and other fun, festive touches. Make it your own!

Decorate Your Windows with DIY Hot Glue Snowflake Window Clings

Hot Glue Snowflake
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Festive window clings are as close as a glue gun away if you have a little imagination and are willing to put in the work! To begin, you will need a few simple snowflake designs and a piece of parchment paper. Placing the parchment paper over your snowflake designs, carefully trace the lines of the pattern with glue from your hot glue gun. Make sure that the glue lines that you are creating are thick enough that they won’t be easily damaged. After the glue has dried, carefully peel your snowflakes off the parchment paper and they are ready to stick on your windows. You can add glitter to your snowflakes before they dry or use colored glue sticks to add some extra fun to your designs. Don’t worry about being perfect with your tracing, after all, no two snowflakes are the same.

Make a Festive Wreath with Fabric Scraps

Hand Holding Scraps of Colorful Fabric
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Quilters and Sewing Lovers: Do you have some holiday-themed fabric scraps hanging around? Before you throw them in the garbage, here’s a great way that you can put them to use to add some festive cheer to your front door. All you need in addition to your pile of scraps is a wire wreath form from the dollar store. Cut your scraps into long strips. One at a time, take a strip of fabric and tie it onto the wreath form, pushing them close together to fit as many strips of fabric in as you can. This will give you a full wreath and prevent anyone from seeing the wreath form from peeking through. Add a personal touch with a festive message, some holiday ornaments, or a large decorative bow.

Build a Pallet Christmas Tree

Wooden Pallet Christmas Tree in the Garden
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Another way to repurpose materials that are otherwise thrown aside is to build holiday decorations out of pallets. Many pallet crafts begin with tearing the pallet down so that you have boards to build with, however, this one is even easier! All you need is a saw of some form to cut through the pallet wood and some paint, and you create a pallet Christmas tree to decorate your porch throughout the season.

Lay the pallet down on the ground with the three inner support boards positioned vertically. Make a mark in the top center of the center board. This will be the top of your Christmas tree. Draw a straight line from this top point down to each of the bottom corners, creating a triangular shape. Carefully cut along both lines, revealing your Christmas tree. Paint the tree to match your other outdoor holiday decorations. After the paint has dried, you can decorate your tree with outdoor lights, or by hanging other decorations along its wooden branches.

Assemble a Lighted Candy Garland

Christmas Garlands with Candies Hung
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We already made candies that could be used to decorate the walls of our home, but if you’re going for the full gingerbread house look, you’re going to need a lot more than that! Trade-in your outdoor lights this season for a garland of candies to make your house shine. All you need is colorful cellophane, clear plastic corsage boxes, and strings of LED Christmas lighting. Take a corsage box and place your full string of LED lights inside with the plugs at the start and end of the plug hanging out on each side.

Take a piece of colored cellophane and wrap your corsage box as if wrapping a present, leaving the ends with the light strings hanging out open. Carefully gather the cellophane around the cords and secure it with a ribbon, wire, or a piece of tape so that it looks like the twisted ends of a wrapped candy. Your garland will be formed by plugging the candies into one another in a row, so make enough lighted candies to span the space that you are hoping to decorate. You can do this all in a single color or mix it up with a combination of your favorite candy-inspired colors.

Decorate Your Existing Outdoor Décor

Christmas yard decoration
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As we already touched on with the festive firepit design above, decorating for the holiday season doesn’t always mean creating something from scratch. In fact, some of the best festive decorations incorporate the outdoor décor that is featured in your yard throughout the year. I’m talking about statues, light posts, garden fences, and other yard decorations. Some examples of decorating the décor in your outdoor space include stringing LED lights along the top of your garden fencing, wrapping your light posts with lighted garland, or even dressing up your statues with Santa hats or reindeer antlers. Not only will this create a fun and festive display but it’s also a great way to avoid unnecessary stress and hassle from trying to work around these items.

Construct a PVC and Electrical Tape Candy Cane

Christmas tree beside giant candy cane
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Many holiday lovers use decorative candy canes to light up their front walk. These simple decorations look great, but they can be difficult to find as the holiday draws near. Rather than hoping that your local dollar store still has some in stock, you can build your own amazing candy cane decorations that will stand up even better over time. All you need is PVC pipe, elbow connectors, painter’s tape, red and white spray paint, and LED Christmas lights.

To begin, you will need to decide how tall you want your candy canes to stand. This will determine how long to cut your PVC pipe. For this example, we are going to look at approximately 3 ½ feet tall, and therefore each candy cane will need one 3-foot-tall piece of PVC pipe. In addition to this, you will need 3 small 3-inch pieces of pipe and 4 elbow joints. Using the elbow joints and smaller pipe pieces, assemble them together alternating between the two to create the curved top of the candy cane. You can use an adhesive to secure these pieces together so that they don’t come apart over time.

With a drill bit large enough for your LED bulbs to fit through, drill holes along the side of your candy cane spaced out to match the spacing of your light string. This includes both on the main PVC pipe as well as on the curved top. Spray paint both pieces white and allow them to dry. Take your painter’s tape and spiral it down the candy cane. You may wish to assemble the top loosely to make sure that your stripes match up. Spray paint everything red and allow it to dry before removing the painter’s tape and revealing the white stripe below. Assemble your candy cane by installing the light string and firmly attaching the top. To use your new decoration, secure the bottom of the pole into the ground and then plug in your lights.

Turn Clear Storage Totes into Lighted Christmas Presents

storage totes boxes in an empty room with a window
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Are you looking for a versatile holiday decoration that can easily be stored without the need for any extra boxes or bags during the off-season? If so, you are going to love this solution! All you need is a clear storage tote, a string of LED string lights, and a brightly colored ribbon. Take the lid off your storage tote and carefully tape your string lights inside, stretching them back and forth across inside the bin to best fill the space. Wrap your ribbon around the tote, tying a decorative bow on the bottom of the container (not on the open top. Sit your tote upside down beneath your outdoor Christmas trees and plug it in. When you’re done with your lighted Christmas presents, just place the various pieces (along with other outdoor decorations that you need to store) inside the tote, putting the lid on, and everything is secure until the holiday season comes around again.

Assemble a Present Stack Topiary

Person Carrying a Stack of Presents
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Topiaries are a great way to frame your front door or entryway, however, you may not be interested in adding an actual plant to your outdoor space just for this purpose. Instead, you can create the perfect holiday decoration by creating a topiary out of stacked presents. You will need a series of boxes, each slightly smaller than the last, wrapped in complimentary wrapping paper, a flowerpot, a block of floral foam, a long dowel or broom handle, and a number of different Christmas ornaments for decoration.

With a glue gun, stick the floral foam to the bottom of your flowerpot. If you are using a lightweight pot, you may wish to weigh it down by placing rocks around the foam. Stick your dowel firmly into the foam ensuring that it is sturdy and able to stand up. Cut a small hole in the very middle of each of the gifts just large enough for the dowel to fit through and slide them each on in order based on their size, with the largest gift at the bottom. Using your ornaments, prop up the sides of your gifts at random angles to add some depth to the display (if desired) and add some additional decoration. Create a matching set for each side of your door.

Build a Plastic Spoon Christmas Tree

Christmas tree from small plastic spoons with red berries
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If you are looking for a smaller decoration to accent a patio table space, here’s a fun option. Did you know that you can build a fun metallic-looking Christmas tree with plastic spoons? This is a creative idea that I had to try the moment that I saw it, and I was surprised by how easy it was to build! All you need is a piece of thin cardboard (like a cereal box), a glue gun, a box of plastic spoons, and spray paint in your choice of color.

Begin by cutting your cardboard into a large circle. Cut a slit in the circle from the edge on one side into the middle and roll it up into a cone shape and secure it with glue. This will be the base of your Christmas tree. Take your spoons and cut the handle off each, keeping the bowl and putting the handle aside. Spray paint all the spoon pieces, making sure that they are fully covered front and back. Try experimenting with antiquing techniques to add even more dimension. When the paint has dried, it’s time to start assembling your tree.

Beginning at the base of your cone, glue the spoon pieces side by side in a circle. When you start the second row, offset your spoons between the row below. Continue this all the way up to your cone until the cardboard is completely covered and you’re ready to go! Try changing the size of your spoon tree by sizing up or sizing down your cardboard, or combing trees of different colors in a holiday display.

Cover a Wall with a Budget Curtain Light

santa holding a gift in front of ligths
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A quick and easy way to decorate a large wall or opening is by using a curtain light. These lights work by combining several string lights all hanging from a single central cord, making it easy to hang them all at once. Many curtain lights combine 200-300 LED lights in a single product. The price point for this product is a large spectrum, ranging anywhere from $15 to $150+ for a single curtain, depending on the functions that each set offers. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly decorating solution for the side of your house or around your gazebo, this is a great solution!