Must-Have Outdoor Lighting for Entertaining

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Now that the weather is getting cooler, family and friends will be ready for a lot more outdoor socializing, fun, and outdoor entertaining in the evenings. 

Many people are still reluctant to go to indoor dining options where there may be crowds. So having supper on the deck or back porch would be a fun escape. An outdoor entertainment area works as a great place to social distance but still be able to meet up with friends and relax together.

Choosing Your Lighting Scheme

If you are entertaining after dark, outdoor lighting is a must! Lighting is best when it is layered. 

Outdoor Deck Lighting

For decks, you have a lot of options, as well. You can install solar deck lights or wired lights on your deck posts at the top (post cap lighting) or choose deck rail lighting that emanates from below the railing to the deck floor. You can also install step lights (or stair lights) that illuminate each step along the side or on the rise of the step, itself, so no one trips in the dark on the stairs. With LED light fixtures, there are many styles to choose from that will make your deck a showplace.

Ambient Lighting

This is your main light source on your back porch or deck which is critical for seating areas, eating, and just being able to see each other well. Perhaps you would like to have an outdoor ceiling fan with lights, and outdoor chandelier, outdoor recessed lighting, or an LED dome light. Or maybe you would like several beautiful pendant lighting options. They could match or be different, depending on the look you are going for.

Task Lighting

If you enjoy an outdoor living lifestyle in an outdoor kitchen, dining, and living space, you’ll need a strong light source over your work station. If your kitchen area is near a wall, you may be able to use wall lights. If it is under a roof structure, you could use recessed lighting, dome lighting, or pendant lights. 

But if you need lighting for a workspace out in the open, you may need an umbrella with bright LED bulbs to protect you from the rain and provide the light you need to make delicious meals your guests will rave about for years.

Photo by Taryn Elliott from Pexels

Mood Lighting

For a festive, fun atmosphere or a touch of romance, you simply must try some mood lights on your patio or deck. Permanent decorative lights are always ready to help you create a delightful occasion with a bit of creativity.

Decorative hanging lanterns

Nothing communicates “party” like hanging solar lanterns. Many of these can stay up year-round if you like. They come in all kinds of fun styles and cultural influences like:

  • Hanging paper lanterns
  • Moroccan hanging lanterns
  • Chinese lanterns
  • Flameless candle lanterns

Table lanterns/table lamps/floor lamps

Arrange several battery-powered LED table lanterns or table lamps on your outdoor dining table, on side tables, or even on the floor for quick and easy ambiance. Then, when your outside event is over, simply bring the lamps inside for use in your bedroom, living room, bathroom or kitchen.

Choose several large floor lamps with sculptural shapes that diffuse the light and create a softening effect. You can congregate them in clusters of three of varying sizes or heights to use for ambient lighting, atmosphere, or both.


Of course, you can use real candles. But they do present a fire risk and may not even be an option if you are in an area where conditions for fires are very dangerous. Outdoor flameless candles provide just as much beauty and charm, but they are safe to use, even around pets, children, and flammable items.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

String lights

Edison style string lights, vintage string lights, or globe string lights provide charming ambient lighting as well as a cheery, carnival-type atmosphere.

Solar fairy lights are beautiful when draped around the beams of a pergola, wrapped around deck posts, or filling the inside or outside of the dome of a gazebo. They create a magical effect whether you use them to design a potted outdoor lighted palm tree on your patio, or if you use them to create a waterfall or curtain effect along a wall. 

Outdoor LED strip lights

Outdoor strip lighting can provide spectacular effects under railings, under the edges of steps, along the edges of ceilings, or under the rim of a pool. Choose from solar rope lights, outdoor color changing LED lights for special effects with an outdoor bar or to line the edge of your curvy garden. 

Photo by Lum3n from Pexels

Wall lights

Hanging wall lanterns look glorious, bringing the nostalgia of days gone by. There are light bulbs that look convincingly like flames flickering in the dark. Or you can even choose a real gas lamp for the full effect.

Other options for wall lighting include coastal outdoor lighting bringing a nautical theme to your gatherings, or outdoor barn light fixtures to match your farmhouse style. Or splurge and go modern if you have a contemporary house.

Path Lighting

Sidewalk lighting provides safety along the sidewalk so your guests don’t trip and hurt themselves in the dark, which would put a huge damper on your gathering. You have several choices to provide beautiful and functional sidewalk lighting. 

Outdoor solar lights are one option that are easy to install, require no wires, and charge during the day effortlessly in the sunlight. Or you can choose line voltage walkway lights or low-voltage lights. These lights are wired in to your outdoor GFCI outlet. This is a more permanent, effective, and reliable method of lighting. It may require professional installation.

Pathway lights come in styles like modern, lantern, dome lights, mushroom style, and different types of metal. If you alternate your lighting first on the right then on the left side of the path, it will create a beautiful effect. Place the lights a few inches or more away from the sidewalk to also illuminate the plants around the lights for a gorgeous effect.

Choose to have one or more lamp post light fixtures to create a whimsical backyard fantasy land along a winding path and garden. Or create your own lighted pattern in your walkway, itself, with solar-powered light-up brick pavers.

Landscape Lighting

Landscape lighting is a luxurious touch that allows your entire yard and home to shine like a jewel, impressing your guests and neighbors. LED outdoor landscaping provides an incredible variety of styles and lighting options to make your home look as beautiful as a resort in the evenings.

Flood Lighting

Outdoor LED flood lights provide the brightest illumination of all the lighting options and the path of their light covers the largest area. Motion-sensing flood lights provide bright light for large gatherings and improve home security. They are also perfect for late-night basketball games in the driveway.

Photo by HAN Mengqi on Unsplash

Don’t Want to Install Outdoor Lighting Yourself?

If you’re not sure how to hang outdoor string lights or install the kind of path lighting or deck lighting you desire to have for your outdoor living festivities, there is help! Whether you need help installing smart outdoor lighting, changing out a fixture, or installing outdoor LED step lights or outdoor accent lighting, a handyman can help.

Looking for a handyman to install outside lights in the Columbia, SC area? 

At Punch List Pros, we can help with light fixture or ceiling fan installation indoors or outdoors. We offer a number of electrical-related servicesdeck/carpentry services, and a full range of general handyman services, as well.

Please contact us today for an estimate or more information.


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