How to put lights on your Christmas Tree

If you are anything like me, you struggle with getting the lights just right! My tree looks like this: way too many lights near the top, too many clumped together, not enough lights. Usually, a more spatially aware friend takes pity on me and helps me do it evenly, and the results are so beautiful. Once I accepted that more lights really were needed, I had a prettier tree.

My tips are

  1. Play some Christmas music — I love the Charlie Brown Christmas album for this!
  2. White lights or colored lights? It’s hard to pick. Why not both? One year, I did both. The effect was beautiful! I had the color I wanted, but the brightness from the clear lights. Some years, I do color lights when I am going for a more colorful tree. Last year, I left the colorful ornaments in the box and did an all silver and gold tree, with fewer ornaments but lots of lights.
  3. Don’t rush it. Go slowly and you will get better results. If you have to, start over.
  4. Enlist a friend…or two..to help unravel the cords, circle the tree and drape the tree with lights. It really helps to have the extra hands.
  5. Tuck, tuck, tuck those lights in — some deep and some closer to the edges of the branches, so you have that nice “depth” effect.
  6. Strategically position some of the ornaments near light sources, especially if they have glitter on them.
  7. Stop and take some pictures of you and your family decorating the tree, as you do it. You’ll be so glad to have these to look at later!

Here are some tips from the experts…

First, the lights. You will need 100 lights per foot of tree.

Secondly, some of those light strings contain lead. It will probably say so, on the box.  So wear plastic gloves to protect your hands, and wash your hands afterwards and before eating anything (like Christmas cookies!), so you don’t accidentally contaminate yourself.

Now for the decorating…

From what I’ve observed on YouTube, you can approach this a number of ways.  Some people start by wrapping the trunk with a string of lights. Some people weave the lights up and down around the tree, and others wrap each individual branch, starting at the trunk and working outward.

Here are some videos that demonstrate those techniques…

Here’s the “wrap each branch” technique from Colonial Wiliamsburg…

And here’s the “weave around the tree” approach from Home Depot…

How do you put up your Christmas tree lights?

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