Outdoor string lights are great for decorating an outdoor party because they are lightweight and inexpensive. Another great light fixture to use are paper lanterns (DIY Paper Lanterns: Our 5 Favorite Posts). Here are a few ideas on how you can create unique shades for outdoor string party lights and different ways you can use them to decorate an outdoor space.
Origami String Lights
Over at the Wit and Whistle website, they have created paper origami shades to cover LED string lights. The great thing about this idea is that you can create any sort of origami shapes from hearts, to flowers and fit them onto the string lights. LED string lights were used as they give off less heat – link.
Steven over at Instructables has taken plain colored ping pong balls, and multicolored string lights to create these colorful DIY string lights –link.
Dixie Paper Cup Party Lights
Create party lights by using Dixie cups and scrapbook paper to create a garland – link.
Decorating With String Lights
There are a number of ways you can use string lights to decorate an outdoor party. They can be simply wrapped around railing, trees, or hung over fences or bushes. You can create a curtain of lighting by hanging a number of string lights side by side. Another idea would be to hang string lights in rows overhead which will create a starry night effect. They can be hung overhead either from the walls of the house, from trees, or plant a pole into the soil to hang them from. If you hang the string lights upwards onto a pole you can create a nice canopy/tent effect.
Alternative: Floating Balloon Lights
You can easily create festive and colorful party lights by putting glow sticks or battery powered LED lights inside of balloons and blowing them up. These glowing balloons can then be scattered around outdoors (they will even float in pools). Or if you want to go a step further, look to rent a helium tank and buy helium specific balloons from a party store to create floating glowing lights, which can be tied down around the backyard.