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How many lights do you need? We have all asked ourselves this question when talking about Christmas tree lights.

With great pride, I present to you the definitive guide to how to choose Christmas lights and all the techniques and tips to hang them perfectly on the Christmas tree.

Let’s start by saying that it depends first of all on personal style. Do you like minimal trees with little of everything? You will need a few lights. Do you like very loaded trees? You will need so much of everything.

First of all we must consider the height and shape of the tree. Then there is a general rule from which we can start.
I found out about it from a Christmas expert from Viridea (no adv).

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How to calculate how many Christmas lights you need for the perfect Christmas tree:

The rule of zero:

Christmas tree lights typically come in stringers of length. How do you calculate the length of the string of lights needed to decorate the Christmas tree? Remove a zero from the tree height.
For example: if the tree is 180 cm high, I will need 18 meters of lights to obtain homogeneous and balanced lighting.

Easy isn’t it? I too was expecting abstruse calculations, square roots, integral and derivatives. No, it’s just about removing a zero!

But it is not over, choosing Christmas lights there are so many aspects to think of:

Transparent/white or dark wire?

It’s up to you, on a white or “snowy” tree the lights with transparent / white wire are better, while on a “green” tree lights with dark wire are better.

Photo Viridea

Warm or cold lights?

The choice is yours, personally, I prefer the warm-toned lights that “warm-up” the atmosphere.
However, cold lights are brighter, so they lend themselves better to external decorations to be more visible.

Obviously then there are also colored lights: red, blue, green… new this year are also Twinkly lights, capable of making colored light games that you can command from your smartphones.

Twinkly Lights

Battery powered or wired lights?

Again it depends. It depends on where you are going to put them. On a wreath, centerpiece, or decoration, battery-powered lights are perfect so you can hide everything and have no wire hanging around.
If you have a power outlet near the tree, it is better to opt for wired lights, you will not have to think about the batteries running out!

For the outdoors there are also solar powered lights!

Photo Viridea

Turning on the lights from your phone

You can also schedule the switching on and off of your decorations, connecting the lights to a socket with a timer or controlling by a smartphone. It will be more convenient to light the tree without having to tuck into it every time!

How many lights you need?

It depends: closer lights are perfect for garlands, wreath, centerpieces and small decorations, lights less closer are perfect for decorating the Christmas tree.

Pay attention to safety

Always check that the wires are well insulated and look for the CE mark on the box (if in Europe). For outdoor lights, it is better to choose low voltage lights (24 Volt) and with IP23 and IP65 marks that guarantee resistance against rain and humidity.

Once you’ve chosen lights, it’s time to understand how to put them on the Christmas tree:

What are the best techniques for properly hang lights on the Christmas tree?

Before you start, untangle the lights, it will be much easier to do it now than in the middle of the decoration.
Turn them on immediately to check that they all work.

If you have LED lights you can keep them on while you put them on the tree because they do not heat up, it will be easier to visualize the effect you will get and if there are any missing points.

Basic rule: start from the base to hang lights on the Christmas tree, not from the top.

Vintage video from our 2015 Christmas

The main techniques to hang Christmas lights on the tree are basically two: one more elaborate that requires more time and more lights, and another one faster that requires less lights. Let’s see them one by one:

Branch by branch technique:

Let’s proceed from the inside of the branch to the outside, proceeding branch by branch. This technique is certainly the most elaborate and requires a longer string of lights but guarantees a homogeneous distribution and also gives depth to the decoration.

Inside-out technique

Here we stay on the surface of the tree, to give a nice 3D effect proceed “inside-out” hanging the lights on the outside of the branch and also slightly inside playing also above and below the branches. It will help you hide the wire better.

The string of lights is here too visible.

Lights all over the tree: behind too

Your tree is next to a wall or in a corner so you don’t decorate it all? I do this too! While on the “back” of the tree we can reduce the decorations, we have to hang lights 360°, behind too: they will reflect on the wall and complete the effect!

All these techniques refer to a uniform light distribution on the tree. But you can choose another way to decorate with lights:

Christmas lights as garland

If you don’t have enough lights – or if you want a different effect – you can opt to concentrate all the lights into one garland. Also depending on the height of the tree, choose whether to make a single festoon or more festoons, horizontal or oblique. This is also another great idea for decorating the Christmas tree with lights.

A trick if you have few lights:

Do you have few lights? Here is a way to “multiply” the lights you have. It’s just a trick: place the lights and then keep the shiniest balls you have near the bulbs, reflecting the light will amplify the effect!

Less messy wires around:

If you want to put many wires of lights on your tree, then you will have many wires to manage with but there is another solution: there are extendable strings of lights that allow you to obtain a single long string of lights.

If I have put you in crisis with this compendium on Christmas lights, I also propose a shortcut: in addition to the strands of light bulbs, there are “nets” or “curtains” of lights, suitable for indoors and outdoors in which it will be enough to wrap your tree!
Certainly less precise but much faster!

Photo Viridea

After talking about lights, I leave you here the blog post from a few Christmas ago, where I had collected 13 ways to hide the Christmas tree stand!

I hope these tips will come in handy in decorating your tree!
Do you have any other tricks or methods to hang lights on the Christmas tree? Let me know!

My husband is keen to point out that the cover photo is deceptive, he never put the lights starting from the top of the tree, it was just an experiment!