Style & Shopping

9 Holiday Lights You Can Hang in Your Dorm Room Year-Round

published Dec 13, 2023
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Fairy lights from Amazon
Credit: Amazon

As Taylor Swift once said, “We can leave the Christmas lights up ‘til January.” But what if we just left them up … for the whole year?

As anyone who has spent any amount of time in a dorm room knows, the built-in lighting options are not ideal. They’re typically stark, fluorescent, and not at all dimmable — basically, every Big Light hater’s nightmare. And while you could go with a tasteful floor or tabletop lamp to bring some ambiance into your room, I love when college students with an eye for design opt to brighten their room up with string lights for a playful, whimsical touch.

With the holidays upon us, now is the perfect time to stock up on some festive decor that can be left up year-round. Here’s a list of lights for now and later. (Just be sure your dorm allows string lights before you make any purchases — you can check with your RA if you’re not sure!)

1 / 9
Classic white lights

Although my tastes lean more maximalist, I’m still a firm believer that you can’t go wrong with a classic, simple option — especially if this is your first foray into the wonderful world of string lights. The white lights don’t scream “holiday” the way some other colorful options might, making this strand an ideal year-round choice. And the low price point means you can go as heavy on the lights as you please for a versatile look without totally breaking the bank.

2 / 9
Disco ball lights
Hot Topic

Although these disco ball lights aren't a traditional holiday staple per se, one of my all-time favorite parts of experiencing the holidays in my newfound adulthood is creating my own traditions and finding out what holiday joy means to me. So if you’re like me, these lights will remind you of the meaning of the holiday season. And when the holidays are over? You can throw a pretty cool disco party, RA permitting.

3 / 9
All-pink lights

Keeping in line with my not-so-traditional holiday season, these pink lights invite you to see the holidays through a more colorful lens. Whether you’re in the market for a holiday season fit for miss Barbie herself, or a pink paradise of a dorm room all year long, these lights will be the perfect addition.

4 / 9
Twinkling curtain lights
Forever 21

Curtain lights earned their name due to their portière-like appearance, as they are made up of several strands of lights draping down from a horizontal wire. The beauty of these lights is that easy they are to install — they’re often lightweight and can be hung up in minutes with some Command hooks — yet they make a big impact on a space.

5 / 9
Rainbow string lights

String lights say “winter holidays,” but pastels say “springtime” — put them together and you’ve basically got yourself a year-round piece of decor!

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Clip lights

When I was growing up, my mom used to hang holiday cards all throughout the living room using clothespins and ribbon. As we got older, she switched to these clothespin-style lights, and I loved the way the cards were illuminated by the little bulbs. Hanging photos and cards are easy ways to carry warm holiday traditions with you to college.

7 / 9
Cookie cutter lights

I’m all about a statement, and these lights definitely make one! These adorably festive lights make me want to immediately bake a batch of Christmas sugar cookies, but they’re not so in-your-face with the holiday aesthetic that they’d look weird still hanging up after New Year’s.

8 / 9
Heart lights

While these may give more Valentine’s Day vibes than Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa ones, the soft pink glow reminds me of warm winter nights spent by the fire with loved ones — they’d be sure to fill your space with love long after the holidays have come and gone.

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Snowflake lights

I couldn’t end this list without suggesting something so audaciously holiday-themed, most people won’t believe it can stay up all year. My college apartment is a capsule of the many different phases I've been through and events I've decorated for, including holiday parties. It’s like a scrapbook I can live in. If that speaks to you, then why not decorate with snowflake lights year-round?

Sydney Hargrove

Media Studies

Sydney is a journalism student at Hunter College in Manhattan. When she’s not writing about decor, she’s working as an on-the-scene entertainment journalist for The Knockturnal. She loves to interview talent and write about all things film, TV, and theater. In the rare moments she’s not running around somewhere, she loves hanging out in her Midtown studio that she’s constantly decorating and rearranging.

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SchoolHunter College '25
MajorMedia Studies
FavesDecor, dresses, Timothée Chalamet, NYC, fairy lights, hugs
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