Bright Ideas

Holiday Lighting Spotlight: LED Rope Lights

Its official astronomical start date may not be until December 21, but wintry weather is already upon us, and with it, the holiday season.

The days may be at their shortest and darkest, but there are lots of festive ways to introduce more light into your home. If you’ve delayed decking the halls and facade of your home until now—delay no longer. There are several styles of energy-efficient holiday lighting you can use to illuminate both in- and outside of your house or flat in creative ways, including rope lights.

Rope Lights

Rope lights are a versatile lighting option that can safely be used to illuminate both indoor and outdoor spaces, and because they’re not as closely associated with Christmas, they can be left up or rearranged to illuminate and add ambience throughout the year (unless otherwise indicated on their packaging—always follow the safety instructions).

Because manufacturers can easily adjust the colour of the tube or the tone of the LEDs, rope lights are available in a variety of colours to achieve the holiday aesthetic you have your heart set on, including warm white and multi-coloured:

How to use LED rope lights

Unlike string lights, rope lights create a visually unbroken line of light, making them perfect for creative festive decorations:

1. Wrap them around objects or hang them

led rope lights holiday lighting

Rope lights are durable and flexible, so they can be wrapped around or affixed to a variety of items to add some quick and simple holiday decoration. Add them to:

  • Furniture
  • Structural columns
  • Stair rails
  • Fences, or string rope lights between evenly spaced poles to create an illuminated fence if you don’t have one
  • Door frames
  • Windows
  • Eaves and rain gutters
SAFETY TIP: When shaping or mounting rope lights, securely attach them using zip ties, light clips, or hooks. Never puncture rope lights with nails or staples—this can damage the electrical components, which will ruin your lights and increase the risk of fire.

2. Shape them into written words

If inspirational words and messages are your style, why not incorporate illuminated festive phrases into your decor? Try this tutorial from Martha Stewart (pictured below left).

led rope lights holiday lighting

Image credit: Martha Stewart

led rope lights holiday lighting

Image Credit: Martha Stewart

3. Shape them into seasonal objects

If words aren’t something you want to work with, you can also twist your rope lights into seasonally appropriate shapes, such as the snowflakes (pictured above right).

PRO TIP: Keep in mind that whilst rope lights are flexible, they should not be bent to 90° angles. This can damage the wiring and plastic casing, causing the lights to stop working or exposing them to the elements. If your decorations require a sharp bend, you should consider using LED strip lights.

4. Outline your displays

If you have decorative reindeer, sleighs, trees, or other holiday displays, rope lights can be used to highlight and outline creative displays in place of or in addition to flood lights. Check out this cool display by Century Cycles for inspiration:

led rope lights holiday lighting century cycles

5. Something totally unusual

If you’re ready to shuck tradition and get a little weird with your decorating, think outside the box and draw inspiration from your favourite video games, TV shows, or other futuristic sci-fi and fantasy properties, like this Portal Christmas tree:

led rope holiday lights lighting christmas tree

Image Credit: Super Punch

Make your own Portal Christmas tree with these directions.

Other types of holiday lights

If rope lights aren’t the right look for your home or holiday decor, there are alternatives:

  • String lights – Also known as twinkle lights, traditional string lights are a classic go-to around the holidays, invoking the appearance of twinkling stars and candles on Christmas trees.
STRING LIGHTS YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN
  • Battery-powered fairy lights – If there are nooks or crannies in your home that are in need of illumination but lack an electrical outlet, battery-powered string lights are an ideal way to brighten them up.
    Available in different shapes and colours, battery-powered fairy lights can illuminate whilst adding visual interest to seasonal decor and displays.

Need some more bright decorating ideas? Check out 9 ways to decorate for the holidays using fairy lights.

Conclusion

Flexible, durable, and fun, rope lights have number of uses during the festive season. Whether you’re using them to create entirely new holiday displays like shapes or words, or you’re layering them into your existing displays to create more depth and illuminate previously underappreciated aspects, these versatile lights are worth adding to any of your festive decor.

Get tips for setting up your holiday lights outdoors with our step-by-step guide.

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