Christmas tree lights
have been used to decorate trees since the mid-18th century when candles
were first used. Early on, the candles would have been affixed to the tree by
melting wax to a tree branch or attached by pins.
Later candle holders were introduced and by the late 1880’s electric lights were slowly being introduced.
We’ve come a long way in the past 125 years. While electric lights are still more popular than battery powered Christmas lights at this time, the use of an incandescent bulb is making way for brighter and cooler and longer lasting LED Christmas lights. Outdoors, solar powered Christmas lights are becoming more widely used.
The industry standard for illuminating a tree is 100 bulbs per vertical foot of tree. So if you have a 6’ tree, the recommendation is for 600 bulbs. This may sound like way too many but it really isn’t. Your tree will sparkle perfectly without looking like it is glowing.
An exception to this number may be with the newer slim Christmas trees which will take fewer bulbs.
Another consideration when purchasing lights for the tree is the spacing of the bulbs themselves. It will usually say somewhere on the box or you can figure it out by dividing the length of the string by the number of bulbs, for example a 25 foot string with 50 bulbs has a spacing of 6”. This is the most common size that professional decorators use.
The easiest way to put lights up on a tree is simply to wrap the strings around the tree like garland. If you want a tree that looks like it was decorated by a pro though, here’s the trick.
Every single branch should be covered in lights from the tree stem (or pole for artificial trees) out to the branches.
Here’s how to do that.
Find the end of the Christmas light strand that you could plug another strand into (also referred to as the female end). Make sure this end is at the very top of your tree so that your lighted Christmas tree topper has something to plug into. Hide it into the tree so it won’t be seen when the tree is fully decorated.
Begin by winding the strand out to the end of the branch and then back to the stem and do this with every single branch, adding more strands as you need. Each time when two strands connect, try to ensure that the connection is in the middle of the tree so it is well hidden and won’t spoil your finished look.
This technique works equally well with white lights, multi-coloured lights or even a single-colour light, such as blue Christmas lights.
When you are finished adding lights to your entire tree, we highly recommend that you plug the final strand into a foot operated switch cord. This will allow you to easily and conveniently turn the Christmas tree lights on and off.
I am a big fan of white lights for the tree. I feel that it brightens the tree but really showcases the ornaments, garland and bows. If you like coloured lights though, here's a modern twist. Decorate your tree as above using white lights, then use additional strands of multi-coloured lights or single-colour lights and wrap just around the outside of the tree like you would with garland. Your friends and family will think you hired a professional decorator with this sophisticated look!