Not even the neighbor's 20-foot inflatable snowman can compete with a front garden awash in the gleam of firelight. James begins with two tall torches, and then edges the front path with virtually windproof candles set in black iron stands.
Fluffy make-them-yourself snowballs and strands of battery-opperated lights fill the window boxes.
Total cost: less than $400
Imagine greeting your guests this season with a tunnel of arches enchanted with string upon string of brilliant white lights. Dramatic yet warm and welcoming, these arches do double duty when in spring you add climbing roses or other flowering vines right over the lights. Oversized ornaments (available at large retailers) add a splash of color swaying in the cool night air.
Draped over a picnic table, an inexpensive set of net lights (intended for hedges) twinkles beneath a cover of fresh snow, creating an almost polka-dot effect.
James says the key is to install the lights before it snows. This season, look for the net lights with transparent wires to further the dappled illusion. Overhead, lit spheres like glowing dandelion heads finish the picture.
Total cost: less than $75
Cool and contemporary, this pathway of lights is made simply by punching holes in the snow and slipping small glasses holding votives into them. James keeps it straight forward, but have fun with this -- maybe spell your name or make an arrow for Santa to know where to land. (Remember to remove the glasses from holes before shoveling or blowing snow.)
Total cost: less than $10
Arches covered in summer by flowery vines are now clad in winter's bloom -- soft subtle lights in the shape of flowers. Twined over bare branches or clustered into bunches (held together by a rubber band) and tucked into green garlands, these are a reminder that a gardener does indeed live here. James also uses these lights in empty planters: Bundled into huge bouquets, they look like massive creamy mopheads of hydrangea.
Total cost: less than $25