'Tis the season for fairy lights and string lights... and here's how to style them

Get festive already with these buys ideas for fairy lights and string lights, from window dressings to tablescapes

Christmas fairy lights: LED lighting chain with 40 lights
(Image credit: Ikea)

'Tis the season for string lights (or was it fairy lights?). Anyway, we spotted this idea (above) on the Ikea website and we thought, 'you know what, Ikea? You're quite right! Christmas might not be here yet, but there's nothing like the twinkling of fairy lights to get our autumns off to a cosy start'. 

But while it's easy to go out and get yourself some fairy lights, it's not always easy to use them to best effect – beyond the usual fling-'em-on-the-tree-and-be-done-with-it come Christmas. However, there's loads of ways to style up your home with string lights, whether you're creating a tablescape, adding sparkle to a windowsill or jazzing up a favourite chair.

Inspired by Ikea's lighting looks, we've pulled together some of our favourite styling ideas for fairy lights and the very best buys around. Want more lighting inspiration and best buys? Head over to our lighting page.

1. Stick 'em in a glass jar for a table centrepiece

Fairy lights: LED lighting chain with 40 lights

(Image credit: Ikea)

Ikea is a classic go-to for fairy lights and their Snöyra style is particularly dainty, which means they're perfect for filling up jars or glassware for a firefly effect. Place a few twinkling jars on a table, or weave a string of lights along the middle of the table for a stunning centrepiece to a dinner party. In the US? Buy the lights here.

2. Wind fairy lights around everything

Fairy lights: LED lighting chain with 40 lights

(Image credit: Ikea)

The beauty of Snöyra lights is that they're so versatile, as this Ikea styling idea shows. Make a showpiece out of any underused piece of furniture by wrapping the lights around it. Okay, we wouldn't necessarily ask you to get all your DIY kit out of the shed to make the kind of display that would make Tommy Walsh (remember him?) happy, but you can create a similar effect by draping and wrapping fairy lights around bannisters, across a bookshelf or along a mantlepiece for instant sparkle.

3. Use string lights to create a photo display

Fairy lights: Amazon Lights4fun SLF-200-YWC 200 Warm White LED Clear Cable Indoor Fairy Lights 16m

(Image credit: Amazon)

Student room chic is definitely a thing, and we love this idea for displaying your favourite snaps on a string of fairy lights. These Lights4fun lights from Amazon are the perfect size and colour, and come Christmas you can hang cards off them, too. Buy them in the US here.

4. Swap desk lights for fairy lights

Fairy lights: Svartra LED lighting chain

(Image credit: Ikea)

Like fairy lights, but want something a little less dainty? Ikea's Svartrå LED lights are the perfect alternative to a desk light, particularly in a kid's room. Make like the Swedish giant and use hooks to create three layers of the lights on a wall. Mood lighting never looked so good. Buy them in the US here.

5. Use string lights to create the right mood for dinner

Fairy lights: Dunelm Bremen string lights

(Image credit: Dunelm)

Create a dream tablescape with statement fairy lights like these copper ones from Dunelm. Scattered along a table and weaved between glassware and place settings, they're a visually stunning centrepiece perfect for wowing dinner party guests.

6. Create exterior appeal with string lights at windows

Fairy lights: Warm white star curtain Christmas lights

(Image credit: Very)

Nothing says curb appeal like welcoming window displays, so dress yours up with trailing string lights that hang down against the glass. These star curtain lights from Very allow you to get the look with minimum effort, but you could also arrange some fairy lights on your windowsill or attach them to the frame for a stunning effect.