For the competitive, the battle to have the best outdoor holiday decorations on the block began weeks ago. But even if you haven't strung...

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For the competitive, the battle to have the best outdoor holiday decorations on the block began weeks ago. But even if you haven’t strung up lights or pulled out last year’s holographic lawn ornaments, there’s still time to get in on the show with the latest trends.

Here’s a peek at what’s hot for the chilly outdoors.

Round and round the yard

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For those who thought their next-door neighbors’ lawn couldn’t hold anything larger than last year’s inflatable snow globes with swirling snow and purring motors, prepare yourself for what’s being promoted as this year’s “must-have” yard decoration — carousels.

Gemmy Industries, the company behind the inflatable lawn-decoration invasion, this year released Christmas-themed carousels that spin. Like the snow globes, the carousels come in several sizes, ranging from 4 feet to 12 feet in height, and feature candy-striped carousels with Santas, snowmen and polar bears on reindeers. Prices range from about $45 to $250.

“A lot of times, people don’t want to put up a lot of decorations,” said Sharlene Jenner, Dallas-based Gemmy’s marketing manager. “It can be a focal point.”

Flipping over birds

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Here are a few of the many stores carrying outdoor decorations.

Party @ Display & Costume: 11201 Roosevelt Way N.E., Seattle; 206-362-4810 or www.displaycostume.com

Wal-Mart: 927 Thomas Ave. S.W., Renton; 425-226-1627 or www.walmart.com

Target: 302 N.E. Northgate Way, Seattle; 206-494-0900 or www.target.com

If your one-upmanship does not extend to inflatables, there are other, more-modest trends to embrace.

Penguins have been popular since the fluffy chicks in “March of the Penguins” beguiled the country. And this year, the animated penguin flick “Happy Feet” is fueling the trend.

“They’re really everywhere,” said Casey Hall, purchasing manager at Party @ Display & Costume. “There’s a touch of penguin all over our store.”

Among its offerings, the store carries a basic 22-inch-tall molded plastic penguin with removable bowties for $9.95.

Target has an animated, wing-flapping, lighted penguin for $39.99, in addition to other lighted, animated animals like a sea lion.

A little less showy

Party @ Display & Costume for the first time has lit mesh frames shaped like packages, candy archways or Santas that glow at night but fade into your yard’s scenery during the day, Hall said. Prices range from $22.95 to $245.

More elegant holiday options are also available this year, including lawn stakes with snowflakes or tiny reindeer that create pathways along sidewalks and walkways, said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Tara Raddohl.

“Path lights tend to be so charming and a little more traditional,” she said. The snowflake path light costs $9.94.

Light up the holiday

Even holiday lights are evolving — subtly — from light bulbs to LED lights, which last far longer and use less energy, Hall said. Prices are coming down, and Christmas trees pre-lit with LED lights appeared for the first time this year at Party @ Display & Costume.

“They burn many, many hours, thousands of hours,” he said. “They have a very bright light.”

They are a little more expensive than traditional lights — $14.50 for a 35-light strand compared to $9.25 for a regular 50-light strand at Party @ Display & Costume — but they last longer and you don’t need to replace individual bulbs, he said.

Stakes with LED lights that work indoors or out also are an attractive alternative.

The Philips Aurelle LED Accent Lighting has 20 lights on each branchlike stake, which come in colors including white, red and green, and can be used outdoors or grouped into a vase for an elegant entry or centerpiece option. ($19.99 for three stakes, www.amazon.com or www.store.philips.com).

Nicole Tsong: 206-464-2150 or ntsong@seattletimes.com