When hanging Christmas tree lights on a tree, you should plan on using 100 lights for every foot of your tree's height. So for a six-foot tree, you'll need about 600 lights. We'll show you how to hang lights on a real Christmas tree, it requires just a little patience.
Instead of wrapping the lights around the tree in a maypole style, mentally divide the tree into three triangular sections, from top to bottom, around the tree's cone.
Plug in the first string of lights, and nestle the last bulb on the string at the top of the tree next to the trunk. Weave the tree lights back and forth across the triangle, being careful not to cross the cord over itself. When you reach the end of the first string, plug in the next set and continue weaving the lights back and forth until you reach the bottom, connecting no more than 300 Christmas lights end to end. Repeat this procedure for the remaining triangles.
Step back from the tree and look at it with your eyes crossed, or squint until the tree is blurry. Wherever you see dark holes on the tree, rearrange the lights as necessary to fill in. To remove the lights without tangling them, work in reverse.
How to Hang Tree Lights on an Artificial Tree
Many artificial Christmas trees come in sections that open like umbrellas. If you use miniature tree lights, you can wrap them around the branches and leave them on permanently—just be sure to light each section separately! We like to use 100-light strands because they are easy to work with as you wrap the tree branches.
Reasons to Opt for an Artificial Christmas Tree
There is good debate over real versus artificial Christmas trees. While some people find the piney, wintry scent of the branches puts them right in the holiday spirit, others find the real evergreens can create a mess.
The case of allergies prevents you from having a live tree, so if these reasons or others get in your way, perhaps choosing an artificial Christmas tree for your holiday decorating is in the cards for your household. Creating a magical glow of lights on an artificial tree isn't difficult, but it demands patience. Below are three different ways to put lights on an artificial Christmas tree.
For Minimalist Lighting
This is a great technique to put lights on a sparse Christmas tree. Instead of using 100 lights per foot of tree, we're using about 50 per foot. To maximize the impact of this technique, we like to use large lights like globes or retro-inspired bubble lights.
Use about three boxes of 100-light strands for a 6-foot tree and about five boxes for an 8-foot tree.
Begin at the bottom of the tree close to the trunk. Allowing some slack or leader cord in the first strand of lights, separate the cord near the first bulb so it forms a loop. Slip the loop over one of the branchlets or greens near the trunk, and wrap the cord a few times around the green to secure it.
Pull the string of Christmas decor lights taut to the tip of the branch, then work back toward the trunk, wrapping the cord over itself and the branch.
Separate the cord again when you reach the trunk, and slip the cord over a branchlet to secure it. Carry the cord over to the next branch, wrap it around a green near the trunk, and pull it out to the tip. Wrap the cord over itself and the branch as before.
Continue wrapping branches in this manner until you come to the end of the string. Plug in the next set, and keep going until you reach the point where the tree comes apart.
For Moderate Lighting
For a classic but bright look, we recommend using LED fairy lights. They don't produce heat and are completely safe to decorate your tree.
Use six boxes of 100-light strands for a 6-foot Christmas tree and eight boxes for an 8-foot tree.
Follow the same procedure as for subdued lighting, but add dimension to your tree’s sparkle by looping the strings a couple of times around on each branch, getting some of the lights closer to the trunk. Work your way from the bottom of the tree to top.
Cover more tree in sparkle with fewer lights by working the string of lights under and over each branch. Follow this pattern all around the tree, working from the bottom to the top. It's simple, but it makes a lot of difference by actually covering your tree in lights instead of lassoing it.
Tips and Considerations to Safely Hang Tree Lights
Christmas tree lights can either be end-to-end—aka string-to-string—or stacked. Before buying your tree lights, check the boxes to make sure they're all compatible. By using stacked plugs, you can join more strands than you can with end-to-end plugs.
To maximize safety, never plug more than two extension cords together. Instead, buy them in the lengths you need, and make sure they can handle the wattage of the bulbs.
The wattages of all the lights you use should be the same. This prevents power surges while prolonging the life of the bulbs.
Plug in the lights before you remove them from the box so you can see if they work before you put them on the tree.
Consider using miniature clear (white) lights for your base lighting, then add strands of the new cool-burning large bulbs for color and variety. Alternatively, add sets of novelty lights, such as flicker-flames, flashing lights, bubble lights, or other shapes.