How to Decorate My Screened Lanai With Christmas Lights

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A lanai conjures up visions of tropical screened porches overhung with tree ferns, the broad leaves of banana palms and dense, flowering vines. Whether your lanai is a Hawaiian idyll or a more prosaic roofed structure with a concrete or tile floor and screens for walls, strings of lights will transform it into a holiday hideout, a glittering warm-weather folly or a private perch moored under its own constellation -- stars so close you could almost touch them.

Wrap the Roof

The lanai roof is typically a solid structure, not open to the sky like a pergola. But the construction often features beams that support the roof itself. The sky is the limit when it comes to ideas of how to make the roof light up.

Add a Timer

Wrap strings of clear or colored lights around the beams and attach the strings to a timer. Your private night sky comes on at dusk and blinks off after you've gone to bed.

Choose the Bulb Color

Leave the lights in place year-round for a sky-ceiling -- white or clear bulbs make the best constellations. But colored lights and larger bulbs might reflect a celebration:

  • Go with green and red at Christmas. 
  • Choose red, white and blue for Fourth of July. 
  • Match colors in upholstery and other decor to give your small enclosed patio the flashy glow of an elegant night club in the tropics -- an instant party space. 

Create an Outdoor Christmas Room

Create decorative strings of lights that go beyond bare bulbs for an outdoor Christmas room. It's as simple as 1-2-3.

Glowing Christmas Cups

  1. Punch holes in the bottom of colored paper cups -- all red, all green, silver and gold, blue and white -- with star cutouts. 
  2. Slip the cups over the bulb sockets on light strings with round, colored bulbs -- if you can get LED light strings, the bulbs will stay cool -- and then replace the bulbs, securing the cups to the strings like tiny lampshades
  3. Drape the cups like graceful swags around the perimeter of the lanai, just under the ceiling. 

Tip

  • Mass glittery baubles tangled in light strings in clear cylinders to place on tables around the space or on a bar or buffet. Plug in all the lights to enjoy your event without the worry of candles and open flames.

Light Up the Plants

Ferns

Highlight your prized orchid collection and your impressive staghorn fern with Christmas light strings:

  • Look for "icicle-style" light strings that cascade like a waterfall and hang rows of them against the screens, behind the massed orchids. The lights will look like rainfall, a waterfall or falling stars, shimmering over the long-lasting blooms and broad green leaves. 
  • Carefully twine tiny lights around a large fern, gently layering them around fronds or encircling the circumference of a pot with strings of light. 
  • Choose all-blue lights for an air of mystery, green for watery rain forest ambiance. 

Petite Christmas Trees

Invent a twist on a traditional Christmas tree. You'll be tempted to leave the "trees" up long past the holidays for decorative mood lighting that gives new meaning to the term "Christmas in July."

  • Find small trees with large, forked bare branches, secured in pots covered in red and green foil. 
  • Wind strings of colored lights around the branches for nature-based sculptures that reveal themselves after dark. 
  • Place one sparkling branch in each of the four corners of the lanai 
  • Park an evergreen-sized branching limb in the place of honor and turn it into a twinkling tree made of light. 

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