The Real Simple Editors offer up some good tips on adding lights to your Christmas tree.
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Create a beautiful glow with these designer tips on how to string lights on a Christmas tree.
When you’re learning how to put lights on a tree, you figure out pretty quickly that hanging Christmas tree lights is easy. Getting them to look just right and taking them down at the end of the holiday season, however, is much harder.
Many times, that’s because people make the mistake of putting their lights on the Christmas tree haphazardly, crossing strands to form a wire net that’s nearly impossible to remove. Fortunately, there’s a few strategies to try to make your Christmas lights easy to put up—and take down.
Whether you decide to hang your lights horizontally like we prefer, or vertically which also has its perks, use these tips from floral design expert Michael Walter to become a Christmas tree decorating pro.
What You’ll Need:
Christmas lights, of course! Start by figuring out how many lights you need for your Christmas tree. A good rule is to average 100 lights for every foot of tree, but you can add more lights (or use fewer) as you prefer.
How to Put Lights on a Christmas Tree
- Before you start, plug in the lights to check if all the bulbs are working. Leave them on while you work so you can see how they look on the tree, and so you can easily address dark spots.
- Horizontal is the most traditional way to install your Christmas tree lights—traveling around and around the tree to wind in the lights. (It’s the method we show in the video!) To give your Christmas tree a professional look, string them a little randomly, to give your lights a more organic, natural feel. As you work, place some lights deeper into the branches and place some closer to the front to create depth.
- A dead zone of lights occurs when you connect one string of lights to another: Hide the unsightly green plug by pushing it deep into the branches.
- If your lights aren’t hanging exactly where you want them, Walter suggests wrapping a little floral wire around the cord and branch to hold it in place. Bend the loose ends of the wire towards the back of the tree to prevent any injuries.
- If you have a branch that’s drooping or unattractive, simply remove it by clipping it from behind with a pair of florist shears.
Best Way to Hang Vertical Christmas Tree Lights
While hanging tree lights horizontally is most common, many top decorating experts recommend installing your lights from the bottom to the top. “The trick is to go up and down, not around and around,” says David Stark, co-owner of Avi Adler, a Brooklyn floral and event design company.
Need more proof that this tactic is the way to go? Decorators at New York City’s Rockefeller Center (who would know better how to light a tree?) use a trunk-to-tip method to create “not just a shell of light but an inner glow and a three-dimensionality that cannot be achieved any other way,” says David Murbach, the manager of the center’s gardens division.
To follow this tree lighting technique, divide the tree vertically into three sections (think trunk to tip) and string the lights by section. Beginning at the bottom, weave each string in and out of the branches, to the top of the tree and back.