How to String Lights on a Christmas Tree

As the holiday season fastly approaches, many people are decking the halls and their homes with colorful decorations that add more joy to the season. A Christmas tree is one of those holiday decor items found inside most homes this time of the year. Decorating a Christmas tree is fun and exciting, and a task the entire family can enjoy together. However, when it is time to string lights on the tree, a bit of difficulty may endure if you don’t know how to string lights on a Christmas tree.

Stringing lights seems simple, but it’s sometimes a pain if the proper methods of stringing aren’t followed. Although you might think that you know the proper way to string lights on the tree, you may very well learn that you’ve been doing it wrong all along! But, you can put the worries of stringing lights on your tree behind you this holiday season. There’s far more to focus your attention on, after all. Whether you’ve opted to use a real or an artificial tree, you can use this guide to simplify the process and ensure that your tree lights make the impression that you want to give.

Christmas tree lights are designed with 25, 50, 100, or even 150 or more lights per strand. There’s a ton of variations in the lights available for the tree, including clear lights, multi-color lights, dancing lights, blinking lights, those that play music, and many others. Choose the light set that is most appealing to your holiday decor. Some people choose a couple of different types of lighting sets, though most people stick with the same style.

Although it might seem that bigger is better, the 50-strand light sets are most feasible of the options. The 50-light strands offer a longer burn time, they’re easier to string on the tree, and they’re not damaged as easily as the larger sets. Of course, any of the lighting sets work wonderfully on your tree and it is ultimately up to you to decide which you’ll use. Remember, you’ll need several boxes of the 50-light strands to complete your tree decoration. A minimum of 10 boxes of lights is recommended for a 6-foot tree.

Many people hire professionals to install their Christmas tree lighting and while the experts certainly save time and know the proper ways to create an impressive design, there’s also large fees associated with their service. Christmas time isn’t the exact time of the year that you want to spend unnecessary cash when there’s so many other things to buy. Luckily, there’s no reason to hire a professional when it’s simple to learn how to string your own Christmas tree lights. You might not be an expert, but you can certainly string lights like a pro with this guide.

Before You Start

Before you begin stringing lights, decide the amount of light you wish to highlight from the tree. You can subdue the lights, add moderate lighting to the tree, or even create a light wonderland in the tree, depending upon your preferences. The amount of light that you wish to reveal determines how you'll string them on the tree, so it is important to make this decision before starting the hanging process.

Checking the lights before placing them on the tree is the next step, especially if an older set of lights is being used. Cracked sockets, frayed wires, and burnt-out lights are among the potential problems with Christmas lights sets. Toss out lights showing any signs of damage and replace them with a new strand. Newer, moderinzed LED Christmas light bulbs are available these days, providing enhanced lighting that lasts without the same worries as the traditional lighting set.

When purchasing new lights, be sure to choose the proper design. Light strands are sold in stacked and an end-to-end style.  Although you’re free to purchase either style, many people prefer the stacked end style. The stacked plugs are best if you intend to use more than one strand of lights because they allow you to join multiple strands together without the need for extra wires.

Subtle Lighting

If you enjoy the appearance of lights on your Christmas tree, but do not want to light up the entire room or take attention away from other ornaments, you probably want to add subtle lights to the tree. Although a limited amount of lights is added to the tree to create a subtle look, you’ll still create enough effect to highlight your tree perfectly. You’ll need about 10 boxes of 50-light strands to create a subtle lighting look.

Step One:

Unwrap the lights, if you’ve not already, removing any ties or clips holding the lights into place. Once the lighting strand is unwrapped, you’ll start by separating the cord near the first bulb on the string. When you seperate the cord, you create a loop that allows you to string the lights over each branch limb. Place the loop ove a branch, securing it by wrapping the strand around the branch once.

Step Two:

Pull the strand of lights to the tip of the branch. When the light tips are sticking out, the lights are easier to see and create a more dramatic illusion to your tree. Working toward the trunk, wrap the cord over itself and then wrap it over the branch. Continue this process around the tree.

Step Three:

Once you’ve reached the trunk of the three, separate the cord and secure it to one of the tree branches. Grab the cord and wrap it over onto the next branch. Pull the light out so that it touches the tip of the branch. Wrap the cord over itself and the branch, as you did in the second step.

Step Four:

Continue the same process of wrapping each branch with lights until you reach the end of the light strand. Plug in the second set and continue placing lights on the branches until you reach the middle. Work remaining lights along the branches you’ve already placed lights on rather than crossing into this section. Although it might seem acceptable to place the lights on the second section, you’ll only add difficulty to the job.

Step Five:

You are now ready to add another strand of lights to the top half of the Christmas tree. Use the same manner of stringing lights as listed above when placing the second set of strings on the tree, as well as any additional sets that you use. When adding lights to the top half of the artificial tree, make sure that you place fewer lights at the top of the tree. Fewer lights at the top half of the tree keeps the light even throughout.

Five simple steps is all that it takes to add subtle lighting to your Christmas tree. These are all easy steps that anyone who wishes to decorate their tree can complete fairly easily. Although it might take a bit of practice to master the art of stringing lights in this manner, it isn’t hard whatsoever, and certainly a technique you can quickly learn.

Moderate Lighting

Moderate lighting amount is the look that most people are after when decorating the Christmas tree. If you wish to add moderate lighting to your tree, simply follow the guidelines outlined for hanging lights subtly on a tree. The steps are the same, although you’ll add more lights than you’d add for subtle lighting. Additionally, you’ll want to wrap the light cords around the branches twice for added effect.  This is all there is to adding moderate lighting to your tree!

Showcase Lighting

An impressive tree begins with plenty of lights. If you want to create a tree that leaves all onlookers impressed, adding more lights and stringing them correctly makes this an easy process. Although you’re using more lights to create a showcase tree, it’s just as simple to add this amount of lighting as it is to add less. 

To create showcase lighting on your Christmas tree, use approximately 40 boxes of 50-strand lights for a six-foot tree. When stringing the lights, start at the trunk and follow the procedure above, tough you’ll want to add two light strands to each branch. Place one string of lights at the tip of the branches; the second set toward the base of the tree. Showcase lighting provides far more ambiance when clear lights are used, although multi-color lights are suitable.

Admire Your Work

You need only complete the simple steps above to string the lights on your Christmas tree. It doesn't matter how much light you want to add to the tree, the steps above help you create a dramatic look that puts everyone in the home in the holiday spirit. Although Stringing lights on your Christmas tree is fairly simple and requires that you complete only a few simple steps, as outlined above. Regardless of the amount of lighting you find suitable for yor tree, following this how-to guide ensures that you make the most out of every single bulb hanging on your tree. 

Following the process above to string lights on the tree may seem a bit difficult at first, but gets easier the more that you string! Once the lights are up, take a step back to admire your hard work. You’ve created an amazing tree with just the right amount of lighting to suit your tastes, and you did it without any expert help. You should feel very proud of your hard work and prepare for the rest of the family to love the look of the tree and appreciate your hard work just as much. Some people even have parties to celebrate the lighting of their tree. Perhaps you’d like to add this type of excitement to the day, too.

Stringing Lights: Tips for Success

If you endure problems as you begin stringing the lights on the tree, take a deep breath and remember, this too shall pass. Practice makes perfect, but there’s no doubt that it can be frustrating until you achieve that level of success. To ease the process of stringing lights, use the tips below when you begin. These tips make it so much easier to successfully string the lights on your tree the first time around!

  • Choose lights labeled with the UL certification tag to ensure safety
  • Toss out any lighting sets that are frayed or otherwise damaged
  • String the lights on the branches loosely
  • Do not connect more than three strands of lights together. Doing so may cause them to burn out quickly
  • When connecting multiple strands of lights, hide the bulky plug deep within the branches of the tree
  • Floral wire is inexpensive and is great to use to hold lights in place on the branches if they’re not exactly in the location you want them to be
  • Ensure that each light bulb is pointed outward at the end of the tree branch. This draws attention to the lights rather than the branches.
  • Using a power strip reduces the electrical load to the outlet and makes it easier to plug/unplug your tree lights

The Bottom Line

When the Rockefeller Center lights their massive Christmas tree in New York City each year, they’ve hired professionals to string the tree who use the trunk-to-tip stringing method we’ve outlined above. This tree is one of the most impressive the world has the opportunity to see, with decorators citing that this method brings out the inner glow and three-dimensionality of a tree in a way that nothing else can. Although it might take a little extra effort to hang your lights with this method, it’s well-worth the effort and soon, stringing the lights using this method will become second-nature. There’s no question you’ll love the look of the amazing tree when the lights are on and the decorations up. When you know how to string lights on a Christmas tree like a pro, you can anticipate the best holiday season yet!

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