Christmas and Hanukkah are all about lights — sparkling on trees, illuminating home exteriors and nestling into evergreen garlands.
In recent years, options for holiday decorative lighting have been given a boost thanks to the advent of LEDs and fiber-optic lights, many of them battery-operated.
Ranging from about $20 to several hundred dollars, the energy-efficient, durable, light-emitting diodes are more expensive up front but last longer than incandescent bulbs. They are also brighter, brilliant and vivid in color.
Battery-powered operation expands their range of use. Wreaths, mantel garlands, tabletop tableaux, gift boxes and ornaments can be so beautifully lit, they channel professional installations.
Mini string lights are especially trendy. Restoration Hardware was one of the first to feature the skinny strands of lights in glass cloches. The effect is enchanting, reminiscent of fireflies captured in a bottle. Set on a mantel, chest of drawers or sideboard, a glowing vessel dazzles.
The light strands can be added to bowls or cylinders filled with pine cones or ornaments. And glittery tree branches, orbs or architectural pieces made of clear, crackled or mercury glass add instant ambiance and a romantic touch.
Pliable lighted strands also are being used to outline objects. They decorate overscale packages at Frontgate, following the outer dimensions of boxes, ribbon ties and the striping of a pattern.
Also, dimensional objects like stars are especially dramatic when the scale is oversized.
The light-up trend also has boosted the natural decorating style (think woodsy, whites, casual). Weathered birch stars from Pottery Barn are striking outlined with lights. The primitive forms look like paper cutouts that children might make in school projects.
Light strands woven through rattan provide unexpected sparkle, and lit branches stashed in a tall vase or bucket can illuminate a dark corner, lending a festive touch.
At Terrain, light strands are woven through a wreath and fall like streamers for a magical chandelier-like touch.
Weave battery-operated strands into garlands swagged across a window, over a doorway or across a mantel, or add glow to an heirloom creche and seasonal evergreens.
Color choices are noticeably richer, often with an option for warm or cool, in all-white or multiple colors, and in new hues such as pink and purple. Frontgate and Brookstone carry remote-controlled lights.
Reflective materials such as mirrors and mercury glass are especially effective with lights. Now there are also mercury glass light strands, which have a retro look.
Pottery Barn also features theater-style lights that serve as stocking anchors and spell Christmas messages, including “peace.”
Taking a cue from perforated light fixtures and lanterns, there are metal globes in a range of patterns. Some lights are combined with other materials, like a hybrid garland.
With these new lighting options, you can be as subtle or as flamboyant as you wish. Create a tableau of trees as a backdrop to a sofa in a living room. Hang some lighted stars in the windows or from the ceiling in the foyer.
These lights may brighten homes and spirits with good wishes for the holiday season and a wonderful new year, one filled with love and peace for all.
Warm Any Room With Candlelight
Candlelight is a warm, romantic touch that appeals year-round. But there are ways to ramp up the display during the holidays.
Choose colorful votive holders in crystal or mercury glass for their heightened reflectivity. In addition, there are beautifully designed, shimmery Christmas trees that are molded candles with the flames at the tops.
Like old-fashioned little villages that entrance children, there are similar single houses or collections designed to be lit from within, as well as hurricane lamps of metal or porcelain with perforations for making light dance.
And finally, there are the no-muss, no-fuss flameless candles, which are amazingly authentic looking, down to their real wax casings, some with gorgeous embellishments, like the white on cobalt damask design available at Brookstone.