A brilliant display of Christmas cheer.

We’ve already told you how to pick out the best Christmas tree, but what’s the best way to decorate it? Namely, how can you best wrap the lights around the iconic Christmas decoration? Whether you have an artificial or natural tree, you’ll want to know how to create a balanced, well-lit look like a pro. Here’s how to do it!

Lighting an Artificial Tree

We’ll start by giving you some general lighting tips. First, you’ll want to use 50-light strands when lighting your tree; while this will require more strands, the shorter length will make these lights easier to work with. They’ll also last longer, being less likely to burn out than longer strands.    

For a 6-foot artificial tree, you’ll need about 12 sets of lights for moodier, subdued lighting. 20 sets will suffice for an 8-foot tree.

Start with the bottom of the tree, near the trunk. Take the end of your strand of lights, and separate the cord at the first bulb, forming a loop. You’ll slip this loop over one of the lower branches, then wrap it around a few times.

Now pull your light strand taut along the branch, to the very tip. Wrap your strand around the branch, doubling back towards the trunk. Now, make another loop in the cord by separating it as you’d done before. Secure the loop on a branchlet, then carry your strand to the next branch and wrap it just as you’d done the last. Repeat the process, and when your strand has run out, plug in a new one. Work on one section of the tree at a time–no carrying a strand from one section to another–and you won’t even have to remove the lights before packing the tree away after Christmas!

Lighting a Natural Tree

For a natural tree, begin by imagining the tree divided into three sections around its cone. You’ll be working with each one individually. Note that while we recommended shorter-length light strands for artificial trees, we recommend you use three 100-light sets for each foot of a natural tree’s height.

Plug in your lights, and put the last bulb at the tree’s top, close to the trunk. Now, weave your string across the triangular section you’ve imagined, from top to bottom. Plug in another string when you’ve run out.

Repeat this process for the other two thirds of the tree. When you’re done, step back and squint at the tree until it and the lights are blurry. Are there any spots without light? Rearrange lights in problem areas for a balanced look, and you’re done!

Some Extra Tips

  • Use lights of the same wattage. Otherwise, you run the risk of having a power surge. 
  • Don’t wait until after your lights are on the tree to plug them in! You don’t want to go through the work of stringing lights only to discover they don’t work.
  • In need of other ideas for decorating with Christmas lights? Check out our recommendations!