As our house continues to feel more and more like home each year – and not just a construction site where we happen to sleep! – I’ve gradually convinced Kim that decorating for the holidays makes sense. Don’t get me wrong, m’lady loves Christmas like nobody’s business – it’s just that the past two winters have seen their share of construction dust and distractions that have kept us from celebrating our home in its full holiday glory.

This year we vowed to change that.


Although the upstairs is still mostly off limits, our exterior and first floor projects are largely complete, giving us safe zones and keeping us happy (and sane). With a simple design plan in mind, we headed off to Ace Hardware armed with measurements of our entire front porch and visions of a tidy and classic Christmas display for the first time in over a decade.

We agreed on these warm white LED lights for energy efficiency, and we outfitted the whole operation with a dusk-sensing timer so there would be no need to remember to plug and unplug the lights each night. We also picked up extra long extension cords and removable command hooks, and on our way home, we stopped at our favorite nursery (hey, Tony!) and grabbed a big roll of fresh garland.


We’re really happy with how things turned out, and the whole install only took about 2 hours on an oddly warm Sunday afternoon. As an added bonus, we also picked up a large storage bin where everything will live neatly until next season!

Do you decorate your home’s exterior? Please tell me you live on one of those magical streets that you can spot from miles away? If not, we’d like to help! Together with the Ace crew, we’re giving away a $100 Ace Hardware gift card to one lucky reader for your own holiday decorating (or house fixing up-ing or anything else you wish!). The giveaway runs through Monday, December 21st until 5pm CST; simply enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. The winner will be announced within this post by Monday evening. Good luck and happy entering!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


We’re excited to be collaborating with Ace Hardware as a part of their Ace Blogger Panel! Ace has provided us with compensation and the materials necessary to complete this project (hey, thanks, Ace!), and all opinions are our own. See all the blogger projects on the Ace Pinterest page.

85 replies on “Introducing for the First Time, Outdoor Cheer!”

  1. I always put candles in the windows, a wreath on the door with a spotlight. Simple, but pretty! Your decorations look great! I love the real garland. . .

  2. Can’t wait to get a house to decorate the outside! I love your decorations — very festive, yet simplet.

  3. We just put up garland on our new house. Even knee deep in our renovation it makes such a difference in the house feeling like a home.

  4. We always wrap lights around our porch post, and then run them along the edge of the roof across the front of the house. I’d like to get those spiral lit trees that people set out on their lawn…. one of these years!

  5. Looks beautiful! We deck out the inside but the outside of our house is definitely lacking.

  6. We have an Ace Hardware store near our new home that I’ve been wanting to check out!

  7. I’m still deciding if I want to decorate for Christmas…I would love some fresh garland though.

  8. Decorating outside is one thing we haven’t done before! I love the simplicity of your outdoor lights and garland!

  9. Looks awesome guys!! I love Christmas time for all the lights! We keep ours simple with large bulbs lining the ridge and gables of our house!

  10. We just bought our first house and loved decorating a real home for Christmas-with a porch and an outdoor plug and space for a big tree! But it needs some work-this would be amazing to help us!

  11. Tis’ the season for updates! I loved seeing the update that you made to your media console. My upcomjng project will be to update my kitchen cabinets using Amy Howard chalk paint though Ace. I was hopeful after reading your post because I didn’t want to do an antique finish but instead wanted a more modern look while using chalk paint! So, thanks for the motivating post!

    1. The Amy Howard paints will be perfect for that! It still might be good to do a layer of clear wax to give the cabinets a bit of extra protection though. The paint alone is super flat, so it’s more susceptible to scuffs, etc. Have fun!

  12. Looks fabulous! We moved into our house over a year ago and haven’t done much more than hanging a DIY wreath on our front door. :P

  13. I line the inside of all the front windows with a double row of white lights – even though they’re on the inside you can see our house from blocks away. Bonus is the lights then also light up the inside. There’s also greenery on the door. I’d love to do more but like you, we’re new-ish to the house and always working on something. Merry Christmas :)

  14. Ooooh, I wasnt planning on doing any exterior decorating this year (so much hassle!), but this is really shaking that decision! Looks so simple and beautiful!

  15. I love it! Christmas season is my favorite. My birthday as well as my dad’s and brother’s are all in December so its like one big party. My dad is also a huge Christmas fan and would go over the top with decorations, mostly interior. He’s now passing them on to me, but we have to wait until we own our home. I can’t wait!

  16. We are living in a construction zone right now as we remove a wall in our kitchen and take the popcorn off our ceiling. Its really hard to be in the holiday spirit when we dont really have a house it feels like. We did decorate outside with lights on our railing and the deck as well as some christmas pots with lights, pinecones, tree toppers and dried flowers. Cant wait to be able to decorate the inside of our house next year!

    1. I feel you, Kelly! We were in that boat the first year. I don’t think we put up our tree until the week of Christmas – I just felt so defeated by the mess everywhere. Just think, soon enough, your house will be just as you imagined it to be, and it will all be worth it!

  17. I really want to find some good faux garland this year (maybe on sale after the holidays) to hang around our front door like you guys did. It looks great!

  18. Looks great! The mild Chicago weather has been great for getting the outdoor decorations up! Happy holidays!

  19. Ace is my favorite place – I’m on a first-name basis with everyone who works there so it makes me happy to hear everyone else loves their ace!

  20. Love the fresh garland idea! I’m allergic to Christmas trees, but I can have them outside!

  21. Ace is our favorite place!!! We stocked up on some more Christmas lights during their Black Friday sale last month – but we can always use more!!! Thanks for a great giveaway!

  22. Your house looks so inviting!

    Buying a storage container for seasonal items WHEN you buy the item? Life changing.

  23. We need some help with the storage. We have the decorations down, but need the storage solutions to help store them!

  24. Looks great against the blue you chose for your front door. We found some giant ornaments at Costco and strung them up along the windows with monofilament. They look great!

  25. Love your porch. I think this is something I can do. Goodbye I’m on my way to Ace Hardware.

  26. your holiday decoration and the bright paint really do add a sparkle to the house! Nice!

  27. Love the subtle yet super festive garland. So pretty around your front door. That blue is just perfect!

    Happy Holidays!!

  28. I wish I had a house to decorate. As it is, I have at tiny (1 foot) fake tree with built in lights that sits beside my front door up on a stool, and a framed picture of a Great Dane with antlers silhouette that sits next to the tree. And that is about it.

  29. Love it! We just moved to our first home… I’m dreaming of exterior decorations next year (something along the lines of what you’ve done!), but this year we were thrilled to have our first full-sized real tree ever, thanks to the new place!

  30. I also convinced my fiancé that this was going to be the year we did holiday decorations (first time in 8 years)! I carried a Christmas tree 10 blocks and also went to ace for some lights and a Christmas tree stand. They’re always so nice and helpful, I’m always inventing reasons I need to stop in! Your home looks even more beautiful than usual! Happy holidays!

  31. I love how you incorporated the garland! I would love to hear what method you used to put everything up. Hubby used a staple gun last year, and while it was very secure, I wasn’t happy with the condition it left our trim in. Luckily the holes aren’t something you notice unless you’re looking for it. There must be a better way!

    1. Thanks, Molly! We used removable command strips for almost everything, except we had to put 2 small nail holes at the top of the garland to support the weight. Once we take the garland down, we’ll have to fill those holes with caulk.

  32. Apartment living doesn’t really allow me to decorate outside, but you can see my tree and some decorations from our windows. Its nice since my neighborhood is a mix of apartments and homes everyone decorates.

  33. We’ve also not gotten around to doing much outside decorating this year. It’s out second Christmas in the house but he haven’t made near the progress on renovating as you guys. It looks amazing!

  34. I’m jealous of your garland! I don’t know why but all I can find is flat pine needle garland… it’s not fluffy like yours. But it smells incredible, and I suppose that’s all that really matters! Happy Holidays!

  35. Love classic Christmas decorations. Our tree (which just got put up today) is white lights, red and silver star wire garland, red bows and red, silver and gold metallic plain ornaments. I could stare at it forever

  36. Love the garland and lights! We don’t have the time or money this year to decorate but I love looking at your festiveness!

  37. We had to buy a 50 foot extension cord for the wedding and I was sure we’d never use it again but HUZZAH, we use it to light up the iron fence along the front of our yard with x-mas lights :)

  38. I love looking at other’s Christmas decorations, but have never gotten further than a wreath on my own house.

  39. The garland and lights are the perfect compliment to your front door color. I’m moving into a house soon and think I might paint my door a similar color!

  40. Looks very festive! I’ve never decorated the outside of our house, so I’m always impressed when people do.

  41. Love the fresh garland, it’s beautiful! Our neighborhood is one worth taking a walk through during the holiday season – beautiful old houses all decorated. Our house however… we haven’t done anything, looks pretty sad! Usually I make a wreath out of trimmings from our christmas tree and hang it on the front door. We’ll see what I can get to!

  42. Looks beautiful! My husband and I just bought our first house in 2014, so we’re still learning the best way to tackle outdoor lights. This would be really useful!

  43. I need to upgrade my lights! LED have really come such a long way over the years.

  44. My house is in need of outdoor decor as well! We stuck a ribbon on the door but that’s about it…

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