Deck-orating for the Holidays

front porch deck with holiday decorations

Decks aren’t just for summertime. All year-round, they lead your family out the back of the house and into the yard. And at this time of year, everyone hopes to find a Winter Wonderland right off the deck. 

Get your deck ready for the holiday season, and transform it into a cozy destination to breathe in the cool winter air, catch snowflakes on your eyelashes, and sip hot cider snuggled under that blanket you stole from your sister. Even better, the deck also leads you and your guests into the garden to survey the winter landscape and perhaps start a snowball fight.

Begin by surveying the barren yard and deck area. See those empty garden planters you carefully chose to accentuate the deck last spring? They are now a blank canvas for your green and red outdoor holiday decorations. The deck furniture you didn’t think you’d use again this year will set the stage for a festive display.

Set Up the Deck

Use out-of-season garden accessories like rocking chairs and empty planters as props in your decorating scheme. The formula goes like this: something from the shed + an evergreen + a ribbon (or light) = holiday display. For example, move a chair from your deck furniture next to the back door, add a prop, a few sprays of evergreen, and lastly a splash of bling.

Another idea is to pick up an artificial tree and set it up on your deck for a festive splash of green. Or, create a north pole scene in one corner of your deck. Within the railings, items will be a little more protected from high winds (but it’s still a good idea to tie all decorations to the decking.) 

Lanterns are perfect for a flat deck surface, so if you've always wanted to experiment with larger lights, this is a good place to view them from the house and road. Other prop ideas include skis, ice skates, sleds, firewood holders, picnic ice buckets, a chalkboard with a festive saying, cardboard boxes wrapped like gifts (weigh them down with a brick inside), snow shovels, and wood pallets.

From the garden shed, use a small table, wagon, cart, tree stump, wood ladder, metal pails, wicker baskets, an upside-down tomato cage (convert into a Christmas tree by tying the legs together), or hay bales as props for your display.

Down the deck steps, stage the empty garden planters and fill with pine cones and evergreens, and tie a ribbon to the front. There may even be enough evergreen materials in your own yard to decorate your deck. If you plan to buy a live tree this year, ask the sellers if you may take home scrap limbs to use as outdoor deck-orations. 

Greens that are perfect for garland displays are cedar/juniper, pine branches, grapevine, artificial or live winter berries, wheat stalks, moss or lichen, and pine cones. To make a garland, group bundles of greens, overlap the bundles, and hold the pieces together with green floral tape or wire.

Decorate

Let’s not spend a lot of money. Most of us have enough Christmas decorations stored under the staircase to supply a small bed and breakfast. Drag those boxes up to your living room and sort the contents into inside and outside decorations while sipping cider and watching a holiday movie. Weather-safe decorations can be used outside, so set those aside to later attach to your props.

Deck railings are easy to reach and an obvious feature to drape long chains of evergreens over. Hang large ornaments, wreaths, or snowflakes between each one. Choose to leave the strands plain, or twist lights around the greens and rail. Stringed ornaments are an easy replacement for evergreens and will also accentuate the railings.

If your deck is covered by a pergola or roof, attach hanging baskets filled with evergreens, large bulbs, and lights to the overhang. Large icicles or snowflakes can float in the space between columns. Wrap the columns with lights, garland, or wide ribbons as an extra touch. Center a wreath on the “ceiling” of the deck, and add lights to create a twinkling night sky. 

Don't forget the back door. Treat it like it's the only entrance to your home with a wreath and accessories surrounding it. In the evenings, have a stack of woolen blankets ready inside the back door so you can bundle up and watch the beautiful winter unfold from your cozy, festive deck!