How to turn your garden into a winter wonderland

Outdoor spaces have a tendency to get abandoned in the colder months, but turning your garden into a winter wonderland will give you a way to be alfresco year-round. There are a ton of outdoor products on the market, from twinkling fairy lights to flickering LED candles, that’ll make your decorating job easier.

It can help to pick a theme, from Scandi chic to festive fun, and create a focal point, like an outdoor bar or illuminated shed, then just go for it. Don’t forget festive fragrances like eucalyptus, pine and winter honeysuckle and if in doubt, add more lights.

Create a sparkle snowflake arch

If you’re short of trees in the garden or showstopper places to hang your outdoor lights then create your own natural arbour or arch. Willow (or birch) is a sturdy type of branch to work with. Start by taking two 6ft lengths of willow branch, or willow whip as they’re called. Twist several together and push the thick ends 23-30cm into the ground and keep adding to them. They’ll soon take root and become sturdy.

Then string your arch with lights. Try these Annabel James Starburst LED hanging lights. Strung on fine copper wire, they twinkle in clusters of over 200 warm white lights. Think of it as an upgrade on the classic Christmas wreath.

Create a sparkle arch in your garden this winter
Image credit: Annabel James

Keep warm with a smokeless firepit

If you’re looking to use your outdoor space as an extension of your house, you’ll need to keep your guests warm. However, if you’re moving between your inside and outside spaces, you’re not going to want to tend to a fire.

Cue the brilliant El Fuego wood smokeless eco-friendly firepit. Lime Lace says it “uses 100% biodegradable refillable vegetable wax fuel and is designed for up to eight hours of consistent burning, which is the equivalent of burning 70 – 80 logs normally found in traditional pits”. It’s super easy to light and you just extinguish it by popping the lid back on.  

Keep warm with firepits in the garden this winter
Image credit: Lime Lace

Set up alfresco dining

If your indoor space is getting hot and crowded, taking your festive gatherings outside is a fun way to do something different and create a cosy atmosphere. Good Homes asked Thalia Shaw, the Founder of Sparkle Lighting, for some of her tips on turning your garden into a winter wonderland and setting up an alfresco dining scene.

Thalia says: “Begin by incorporating overhead lighting elements like string, festoon, or hanging pendant lights. You can hang these across the dining area to create a warm and ambient glow. Hang them from a structure like a pergola, or use trees, poles or walls. Enhance the dining experience by placing lights directly on the tables. You can use decorative battery-operated or USB-chargeable table lamps, solar-powered lanterns, or LED candles.”

A nice touch is to guide guests to their tables and create a sense of direction with pathway lighting.

“Alternatively, create an atmosphere around the dining space by using solar-powered stake lights along walkways leading to the dining area or around the edge of the dining space. This adds a magical touch as guests navigate a softly lit landscape,” Thalia adds.

Finally, opt for lighting fixtures that allow for the adjustment of intensity or colour temperature.

“This flexibility enables you to adapt the lighting to different occasions and moods, whether a lively gathering or a more intimate dinner setting. Many of our festoon lights have five settings so you can create the look and atmosphere you want for each occasion,” Thalia says.

Create a Christmas dining scene outside
Image credit: Sparkle Lighting

Sit around an outdoor bar

If you’re looking to stay out in the garden and create an outdoor bar, a traditional firepit will set the mood.

Firepits UK have a huge range of handcrafted pieces made in rural Wales. Add on one of their accessories like the large hanging cooking bowl. It has three hanging chains and a fourth chain so you can adjust the height directly over the firepit. It’s the ultimate way to make and serve your mulled wine.

Keep your mulled wine warm with a hand-crafted fire pit
Image credit: Firepits UK

Make a tree of lights

If you’re not a fan of chopping down a tree just to be used for a couple of weeks, then try Cox and Cox’s light up twinkle wall tree. The simple but effective idea is made from seven strings of lights coming from one central star.

Choose between the warm white or classic white setting, or flick the switch to twinkle. There’s a loop for hanging, so they couldn’t be easier to put up.

Style a Christmas tree in lights on the wall of your house
Image credit: Cox & Cox

Have some fun with oversized baubles

It’s not all chic warm white lights. Sometimes you just want to have a bit of fun with your festive decor. Home Bargains have got some great outdoor ideas to make your garden stand out. The 68cm bauble has 100 LED lights and a sturdy wire frame base. Although it’s best not left outside in high winds…

Go for colour and fun with oversized Christmas baubles and candy canes
Image credit: Home Bargains

Plan a chic Santa’s grotto

A hangover from lockdown times, the outdoor bubble dome does come in handy for a Santa’s grotto to transform your garden into a winter wonderland.

Cuckooland’s giant igloos are a fun alternative to a conservatory and a great way of keeping warm this winter. The dome is easy to transport, windproof up to 62km/h, water resistant and snow proof. Fill the space with fairy lights, and use it as an extra room, whatever the weather.

Create your own Santa's grotto with an alfresco dome
Image credit: Cuckooland

Deck your shed with boughs of holly

Don’t let your shed or outdoor home office go unadorned this winter. It’s the perfect way to turn your garden into a winter wonderland.

Lights4fun, who bill themselves as the “home of Christmas”, are a one-stop shop for every type of outdoor light you could imagine. They have over 80 search results for “outdoor Christmas stars” alone. Plus, a fantastic range of outdoor candles.

Lights4fun have created a TruGlow candle. It’s waterproof, has a realistic flickering LED flame, and up to 180 hours of illumination before the battery runs out.

Adorn your shed with stars to turn your garden into a winter wonderland
Image credit: Lights4fun

String your trees with lights

If you’ve got a cold, clear winter’s night, why not sit out under the stars and create a Scandi chic seating area. Cox & Cox have designed a brilliant outdoor Christmas tree alternative that will bring an ethereal feel to your winter wonderland inspired gatherings, with their light-up naked wire trees.

The trees have a slim, snow white trunk, and thin, bare branches strewn with tiny warm white LED lights. The effect is quite magical.

Cox & Cox also has a great range of pre-lit pine trees. Drape your outdoor furniture with sheepskin rugs for your guests to snuggle up in as an added touch.

A winter wonderland in the garden is the perfect way to entertain guests
Image credit: Cox & Cox

Add cheer with illuminated reindeer

Kids and grownups will love looking out the window come nightfall over the Christmas period to see a family of illuminated reindeer. Lights4fun take their light-up reindeer very seriously and have a range of reindeer collections, from Studley to Swinsty (all named after their local parks).

The team handmake the frames of their reindeer and spend time in the parks, paying close attention to how the reindeer move and interact, so they can get a good likeness. Super bright LED lights are then fitted to the frame. The lights use up to 75% less energy than a filament bulb. It’s a surefire way to turn your garden into a winter wonderland.

Feel festive with illuminated reindeer at the bottom of the garden
Image credit: Lights4fun