Use an outdoor lamp to brighten up a buffet, or wrap twinkling strands around a column. These options can withstand rain and sweltering summer heat.
What you need to know: When stringing up lights, use plastic hooks. “Metal nails and staples can puncture the wires,” says John Drengenberg, consumer-affairs manager at Underwriters Laboratories (UL), which provides product-safety certifications. Look for the red holographic UL seal on the tag: It ensures that the lights were rigorously tested for outdoor safety. To hide cords, duct-tape them to the ground and cover with an outdoor rug, or tuck them under bushy garden plants. Electric string lights can stay outside for up to three months; store them indoors for the winter and check for frayed wires before bringing them out next season.
The Lights Pictured
Oblong string lights (in greenery): Patio light string, $90 for 54 feet, sivallighting.com; holds 24 bulbs (95 cents each), sold separately from the same vendor.
Round string lights (hanging from pergola): Paper party string lights, $17, worldmarket.com.
See more outdoor string lights here.