We all know (okay I know) that one of the best parts of decorating your home is decorating the exterior. One of my favorite past times is driving around nearby neighborhoods and seeing the beautiful neighborhood Christmas and holiday lights. I have always looked forward to being able to light up my home one day; however, that day is not today. I am still a college student living in an apartment.
BUT! There is a way I (and you!) can still enjoy decorating the exterior of your apartment/condo/etc! THE BALCONY!
Honestly, I didn’t even think of doing this until a few weeks ago.
In mid-November, our apartment managers sent out a flyer. Not just any flyer! The top stated, in big bold beautiful letters “BALCONY CONTEST” with a cute Christmas tree image. I ripped the flyer out of my husband’s hands and quickly read what my next project would be. The flyer stated that our apartments would be holding a holiday balcony decorating contest. Winners would receive free January rent! HELLO! Money AND I get an excuse to decorate? SIGN. ME. UP.
So the journey began. Over the next days, I dove headfirst into my computer screen begging for brilliant ideas that would steal the show. I also needed these ideas to be on a budget (there’s the kicker, right?). After hours and numerous Christmas movies, a plan began to develop. Sarah and Jaegger’s balcony was about to become Whoville and our Grinchmas Theme began!
So, how did we do it? How, from start to finish, did we achieve this? The steps we took to go from empty to Grinchmas are below! (Update: we won the contest!)
1. Choose a Theme:
Our first step was, of course, choosing a theme. I didn’t want to just put lights on our balcony and call it good. I truly believe that a successful decoration attempt begins with a good theme to keep everything consistent. I went back and forth between numerous ideas, here are all of the ideas I started with (and things that go with it):
- Rustic: red, white and black, cabin, buffalo plaid, evergreen boughs, lanterns, red and white lights, fake snow, eventually real Denver snow
- Traditional: red and gold, poinsettias, white lights, gold and red sparkly ornaments and bows, perhaps evergreen boughs and garland (this one is definitely my comfort zone)
- Winter Wonderland: blue, white and silver, white and blue lights, cutout snowflakes (or ornaments), snowflake lights, white garland, and bows
- North Pole: bright colors including red, green, blue, yellow and pink, multicolored lights, a sleigh, reindeer, large bulbed lights
- Candy Cane: red and white, striped poles, candy cane wreaths, white and red lights, red bows, large lollipops
- Sophisticated: gold and silver, glittery ornaments, wreaths with dark greenery, white twinkle lights (on slow setting)
- Gingerbread House: light brown and bright colors including red, green, blue and yellow, multicolored lights, large gingerbread house and gingerbread men, candy cutouts and ornaments
- Sally and Jack: from the wonderful Christmas (and Halloween classic) Nightmare before Christmas, black and white, red, green, gothic, jack-o-lanterns, trees… another VERY close second!
- Grinchmas: lime green and bright red, white lights and multicolored lights, ornament wreath, hanging ornaments, deco-mesh garland, swirly sticks, and whimsical decoration pieces
2. Create a Plan:
Things to consider: the entire opening of your balcony (from the railing to ceiling), lights, outlet locations, and dimensions of your balcony. You also will want to walk outside to see what your neighbors will actually see. For example, the majority of people see our balcony ceiling and our railing since we don’t live on the first floor, so that is where I put my focus on.
Using these bits of information, formulate a plan. Where do you want to decorate? Where do you want to put lights? Where can you place items without lights that will still be seen? How will you fasten your decorations? Zip ties, screw-in-hooks, command hooks, staples, ribbon? Can you see your decorations from all angles? Are there any nearby windows you can also decorate?
Deco-mesh garland for the railings, an ornament wreath to hang from the center, a grinch cutout for the nearest window, a “Merry Grinchmas” sign to hang from the lowest railing and icicle lights as well as leftover ornaments to hang. In order to visually see my vision come to life, and to have some handy measurements, I wrote down my initial plans on paper with all of the necessary dimensions needed throughout the process.
3. Create a task and ‘to buy’ list:
With this information, create a list of items you need to make and buy. For example, I knew I wanted to create an ornament wreath and hang it on our balcony opening. I also knew I wanted the tops of the railings and balcony opening to be surrounded by garland. I then measured out how long this would be and made my lists from there.
Our Task List:
- Buy All Materials (tip: start with what you have!)
- Create 2 x 10 feet of deco-mesh garland (with lights)
- Create 2 x 7 feet of deco-mesh garland (with lights)
- Create an ornament wreath
- Create a grinch cut-out
- Create a “Merry Grinchmas” sign
- Hang and Install decorations
4. Build your decorations:
I created the garland, an ornament wreath, a large, light-filled sign, a grinch cutout and added extra lights to tie it together. Because my theme was Grinchmas, I made sure that each piece was whimsical. But other ideas to decorate your porch include:
- Large bows and ribbon
- Small to Medium Lawn Blowup Characters
- Lighted Reindeer
- Fake Trees
- Themed Lights
5. Install your decorations
This is the best part! We used zip ties and hooks to secure our different decoration pieces. Be sure to plan for the weather! We had to secure our wreath in three different areas to account for the wind. We also were able to put all of our lights on one extension cord. Definitely, plan for having to use two so you don’t trip a breaker!
Tip: Use battery operated lights (that have timers) to spread out your energy usage.
Don’t forget to turn on those beautiful lights every night!Who knew decorating your apartment balcony for the holidays could be so easy?Click To Tweet
How do you decorate the outside of your home?