Don't pack those fairy lights away when the holidays are through.

How to Decorate With Fairy Lights

by Benna Crawford

Fairy lights add twinkly magic to the front porch at holiday time. But the miniature sparklers are versatile enough to use in decorating projects year-round. Light up your life with tiny twinklers hanging like a waterfall from the ceiling or encircling a mirror in your dressing room. Incandescent fairy lights can get hot, so don't leave them unattended if they might touch paper, fabric or anything flammable.

Show the Love

Fairy lights are an inexpensive way to add magical glitter to a wedding table. Drape strands of the tiny lights over a solid white underskirt and under a top skirt of gathered white tulle. LED lights stay cool for safety during a long reception. Pin pastel or white silk flowers at intervals along the front edge of the table, over the tulle, and repeat the silk flower colors in the centerpiece. Behind the table, twist a generous length of tulle into a valance that hangs from hooks in the wall or stretches between decorative columns. Wind fairy lights in the tulle before hanging it; be sure the fabric is long enough to curve gently in the center of the valance and reach the floor in a long, twinkly column on either side.

Glitter Under Glass

White strings of light are minimalist, but even colored holiday fairy lights will illuminate a table or mantel with shimmering charm under glass. Capture a string or two of fairy lights in an open glass canister for an instant table centerpiece. White LED lights or icicle lights brighten things up enough so you can see what you're eating, without killing the romantic ambiance. Colored lights are party-ready. Bottle your light strings: Drill a hole in a clean, empty wine or colored-glass water bottle. Use protective goggles and gloves and a glass drill bit. Site the hole about an inch up from the bottle's base and seal the circumference with clear lacquer. Thread a string of lights in through the hole so they are jumbled inside the bottle and the light plug hangs down outside. Recork the bottle and plug it in. Place a line of light bottles on the mantel to flicker along with the fire in the grate.


Spell out a happy message or a child's name with a stretched canvas from the craft store, paint and a string of cool LED lights. Use a stencil or draw the message you want freehand in pencil on the front of the canvas. Keep it very faint so the marks won't show through the eventual paint. Punch holes at regular intervals with an ice pick or another sharp, pointy object, tracing the letters in your design. Gently erase any visible marks and paint the canvas to match your decor. Once it's dry, push a fairy light bulb through each hole from the back, creating a "peace" or "Dylan" or "Cheap Eats" sign to hang on the wall or lean against it. Plug in the light string and your message shines out loud and clear.

Fairy Trees

Invite the fairies to take up residence in your enchanted bedroom or living room. After a storm, hunt for an interesting, twisty, downed branch with several forks and "plant" it in florist's moss in a painted pot. Run one or more strings of connected fairy lights up through the hole in the bottom of the pot, or over the edge on the side out of view, and wind them through the branches, securing here and there with thin silver wire or clear cable ties. Set the branch in a corner to appear to be the edge of a fairy-tree forest. Or paint a simple tree-branch mural on the wall over the sofa or a headboard and outline it with fairy lights attached to the wall with bits of clear double-stick tape.

About the Author

Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education .

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images