The Family Holiday Space – A Backyard Landscape & Lighting Project

“Holidays exist solely to remind us of meaningful acts of humanity that would otherwise be forgotten.”

When holidays come around, every big box store and landscape center have big displays of stuff you put in your yard that shout Halloween! Christmas! 4th of July! These are the ubiquitous pumpkins, gourds, cornucopias, and every manner of ghosts, elves, Santas, and so on.

Is This How You Want to Celebrate Holidays?

Maybe you are OK with using all this stuff for public displays. But, what about creating something in your landscape that is private and captures the true meaning of holidays for your family – an intimate backyard oasis.

Creating the Family Holiday Place

Create a small space on your property that displays objects that represent your family's traditions for each upcoming holiday. This could be a secluded spot in your backyard, or a corner of your patio, or something you assemble around a backyard fireplace. The space could also be in an outdoor structure such as a she-shed or garden house. The objects you place in this spot would be things that have personal meaning to your family and are connected to the holiday.

An Ongoing Project for all Family Members

Objects can be anything that reminds your family of the love and joy they shared on past holidays. Before each holiday, ask all members to go through those boxes in the garage or basement – you've saved them for a reason. Pull out the objects connected to holidays. They can be artfully assembled at your Family Holiday Space. One or two weeks before a holiday, make it a family project to assemble the display. Celebrate the event with an outdoor meal at the spot.

Objects from Ancient Traditions

Include things that remind family members of their ancestry. For example, on Halloween, a family with Irish ancestry might choose a Celtic cross because that is one of the symbols used to celebrate Halloween in Ireland.

Simple Construction

No need to get fancy. You can create a shelf from flagstones or scrap wood. Surround it with potted plants. If the items need protection, consider a small awning or trellis from your local nursery. Photos and other sensitive items can be sealed in plastic. Be sure to include comfortable outdoor seating around this spot. It will be a place where the family gathers to sip hot chocolate and share memories.

The Lighting Plan

Once the space is chosen, create a permanent or temporary lighting plan that illuminates the objects, the seating area, and the path to the spot.

Click here for Basic Landscape Lighting Installation Instructions.

Lighting Goals

  • Path Lighting. If a path leads to the place, provide low-level no-glare lighting along the path. A variety of VOLT® path and area lights can be used. Select the color and style that looks most natural in the setting. Position the lights every 8 to 10 ft. along the path, alternating placement on one side then the other.
  • Seating Area. This lighting should be very “low key” for visual comfort. The best approach is to situate a Top Dog Downlight in an overhanging tree or the side of the house to simulate moonlight. Use the lowest wattage bulb for the best effect. If there is no overhead location, use a few path or area lights to surround the region.
  • Holiday Object Scene. As with the seating area, to light the objects, use one or two overhead lights. They should be a little brighter than the seating area. An alternative method would be to use a directional area fixture such as the Top Dog Mini Area & Path Light. This light would be positioned on one or both sides of the display – aimed so they don't shine into the viewers' eyes.
  • Permanent or Temporary. You may love your holiday area enough to want the lighting to be on every night. If, however, you want lights on only during holidays, you have two choices. To turn all of them off, simply unplug the transformer. To turn off some (but not all) lights, use the VOLT® Pro Junction Hub as the connection point near your Family Holiday Space. This Hub has a simple clamp-type system so lighting fixture wires can be plugged or unplugged at any time. Use a twist-type connector and electrical tape to seal the wires ends when not connected.

We hope this project helps you and your family better enjoy the holidays. Please submit your photos to our Customer Project Showcase. We'd love to share them with others.

That's all for now. Feel free to contact our lighting specialists with any questions – 813-978-3700 or email

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