How To Light A Christmas Tree Like A Pro – and Holiday Lights Safety

How To Light Your Christmas Tree Like A Pro

file000951277203Christmas is in a few weeks, so many of us are running out to get our Christmas trees – whether from the tree lot, the hardware store, or the garage. If your tree isn’t pre-lit, you’re probably going to want to string lights on it. I learned several years ago from professional Christmas tree decorators the best way to light trees so the ornaments are highlighted beautifully.

How many lights do I need for my tree?

The rule of thumb for me is 100 lights per foot the tree is tall. If your tree is 7 feet tall, you will want 7 strands of 100 lights. This is where some safety issues come into play: Check the box for the manufacturer’s recommendation for how many strands of lights you can string together. If they say not to connect more than 3, you will need to get a power-bar to put at the base of the tree (which isn’t a bad idea anyway), and string 3 lights together, and start the next string of 3 from power bar. If you ignore this advice, you run the risk of burning out the fuses on the lights and ending up with half your tree going out.

Lighting the tree:

This is very important… always work with the lights plugged in. Plug in your lights as you add them to the tree. You will know right away if the strand isn’t working, and not have to undo all the work you’re about to do.

To begin – start at the base of the tree on the lowest row of branches. Start with one branch and weave the lights starting from the trunk out to the end of the branch and back again. Move to the next branch (I go clockwise on the bottom row)  and do it again. Keep doing this on each and every branch until you’ve finished the bottom row.

To start the next row – go up to the branch above the one you just finished, and do the same weaving thing, going in the opposite direction (or in this case – counter clockwise). The idea is to zig-zag the lights up the tree rather than having to walk around the tree in circles – which  makes taking the lights off after the holidays easier.

Lightinng the entire branch from the trunk to the tip will illuminate the tree on the inside as well as the outside. This gives you more places to hang ornaments and tuck picks, ribbons, and bows.

If you’re working with an artificial tree that disassembles into sections, you can save your lighting work for next year carefully placing the  plugs at the sections with zip ties – so you can easily disassemble and re-assemble the tree next year.

Decorating the tree:

If you look at a  professionally decorated christmas tree, there are ornaments both hanging on the tips of the branches and hanging on the inside of the tree between the branches. The spaces between branches are also great places to tuck bows, artificial flowers, or picks of glittery berries.

Don’t feel limited on tree toppers – it doesn’t necessarily need to be a star or an angel. There are many items or combinations of items  that make exciting tree toppers such as flowers, big  bows, teddy bears, dolls, musical instruments, cooking utensils… or really anything that you love relating to a hobbies or interests.

Holiday Lights Safety:

I’m sure we’re all aware that leaving Christmas lights on unattended is a horrible idea. This is especially true with real trees – that drying piece of kindling in your living room with the lights and ornaments. When you leave the house or go to bed, please unplug your tree.

light timer


Always read the labels on your boxes of Christmas lights  to make sure not to string too many lights together on one plug. They make fantastic holiday light plug “stations”, like this one from Lowes, that can hold several plugs and have timers – these are great for the outdoor lights.

Never use a staple gun to hang lights – it’s just not a great idea. There are many different clips on the market that are easier, safer, and reusable.

Happy Holidays!

W. logoThe Wahlberg Group

Keller Williams Pacific Estates



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About coralynwahlberg

The Wahlberg Group are Real Estate specialists based in Long Beach and Orange County, California.

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