How to Hang Lights on Your Tree Like a Pro

Decorated Alberta Spruce
Tree Classics Alberta Spruce Tree

Although the availability of pre-lit trees has made it a snap to set up a fake Christmas tree, there’s still a multitude of great reasons why you might want to string up the lights yourself. Whether you have a unique string of lights you want to use or you want a specific look for your tree, an unlit tree provides more decorating opportunities and lighting options.

If you’re not ready to invest in a pre-lit tree, Tree Classics can show you how to make the most of your unlit tree with this quick guide on hanging your lights evenly.

Before Lighting Your Tree

Unless you already have lights for your tree, you should first consider what type of lights you need. The size of your tree is a major factor, as it will affect your choice of light type. In terms of configuration, there are two main light types available: stacked lights and end-to-end lights.

  • Stacked lights
    This type allows additional strings of light to be connected on both ends of the plug, allowing you to connect more light strands as needed. If you have a large tree, this light type is preferred.
  • End-to-end lights
    This type only allows a single connection at one end of the plug, making it the usual choice for smaller Christmas trees because they require fewer lights.

Step-by step Lighting Guide

Lighting a Christmas tree isn’t as simple as wrapping lights around it, especially if you have a bigger tree. Making sure your tree is evenly lit is the key to making your foliage and décor shine for the holidays. One rule of thumb when it comes to tree lighting is to use 300 light bulbs or three 100-light sets per foot of the tree’s foliage in height (minus one foot for the tree stand). For example, if you have a 9-foot full profile tree, you’ll need around 2,400 lights. Take a look at the steps below to help you get started:

  1. Before hanging lights on your tree, mentally divide the tree into three triangular sections from top to bottom and around the tree’s cone. This will create three triangular sections around the tree, which you will light separately. This is known as the triangle lighting technique.
    Triangle lighting technique
    In the photo of the Classic Fraser Fir above, the gray lines represent one of the “imaginary” triangle sections. The yellow lines inside the triangle show how to weave the lights from side to side.
  2. Plug in the first light string and place the last bulb on top of the tree.
  3. Weave the lights from side to side, making your way down one of the triangle sections (see yellow lines on the image above). Be careful not to cross the cord over itself as you work your way to the bottom.
  4. When you reach the end of the first light string, plug in the next one and continue weaving the lights from side to side until you reach the bottom.
  5. Depending on the size of your tree, you might need more than one light string to light a single section. Remember that, in general, you should not connect more than 300 lights end–to-end so as not to overload the wiring with electricity (for specific details, check the instructions that came with your lights).
  6. Dim the room lights, step back, and look at your tree from a distance while squinting. This will help you identify dark patches on your tree. Arrange lights as necessary to fill in the gaps.
  7. Repeat step 3-6 for the remaining triangle .

Although lighting your tree yourself will entail some work, the finished product will prove that the effort was worth it—especially if you do it right. Take the time to light your tree evenly by following the tips above and bring out the best in your unlit artificial Christmas tree.

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