Whatever your style or budget, your Christmas tree is the centerpiece of your holiday decorating plans. Learn the best way to trim your tree, layer it with lights and add all the finishing touches.
While decorating, position your tree about 2 feet from a corner or wall, so you can easily access the entire tree as you hang lights and ornaments.
Types of Lights
How many strands do I need?
A good rule of thumb is 100 lights for every foot-and-a-half of tree. However, if you love lights, you may want to double or even triple that amount. Use the chart below for the recommended number of lights for fresh-cut trees.
|Tree Height||Number of Lights|
|6 to 7 Feet||400 to 700|
|7.5 to 8.5 Feet||700 to 1,000|
|9 to 10 Feet||1,000 to 1,300|
|12 Feet||1,500 to 2,000|
Whatever type of lights you choose, make sure they're UL-listed (Underwriters Laboratories). It’s also a good idea to choose the same brand and type of lights for your entire tree. Light colors and even brightness can vary between brands.
Few things make the holidays more magical than a tree with hundreds — or even thousands — of twinkling lights. If you don't enjoy hanging lights, a prelit artificial tree is a hassle-free way to add sparkle to your home.
When you're ready to light your tree, test to see that all the bulbs are working. Work with the lights turned on so you can ensure that the lights are evenly distributed.
Make sure you don’t connect too many strands together. Standard incandescent string lights can connect 3 to 6 strands, while LED string lights can connect up to 25 strands. Consult the package and manufacturer’s recommended guidelines to be on the safe side.
Start at the top of the tree, and weave the lights up and under branches. Work your way down and around the tree, hanging lights in the back as well. When you reach the bottom, hide any extra lights behind the tree. If you want to add more lights, do another pass, starting from the top and working down.
If you love lights and really want your tree to glow, wrap the tree branches with lights. Start wrapping a branch at the bottom of your tree, working from the trunk out. Wrap lights around the individual branches, working farther and farther out. When you're about 4 inches from the end of a branch, stop. Work your way back to the trunk, wrapping the cord just once or twice to hold it in place. Then move on to a nearby branch and repeat.
When you're done hanging lights, step away from the tree, turn down the room lights and evaluate your work. Squint your eyes until the tree is blurry to identify any dark patches and rearrange lights to fill in any gaps.
If you want your tree to have a unified look, think about picking a color scheme. Some classic combinations include the traditional red and green, red and white, blue and silver and silver and gold. Use your color scheme all over for a simple, elegant look, or instead use it as an anchor and let your ornaments be the center of attention.
See Christmas Tree Decorating Ideas for more eye-catching looks.
Now that your lights are ready to go, it’s time to move on to the details. The exact number of ornaments and decorations you need depends on your tree's size, the size of your ornaments, how much of the tree you plan to decorate and your personal style. Follow the steps below to have a fabulous looking tree.
If you have pets or small children, avoid hanging ornaments on the lower limbs of your tree.
With so many ways to decorate a Christmas tree, you may need more than one tree to spread the holiday cheer throughout your entire home. Decorating a second or third tree is a great way to utilize extra ornaments or include the kids. Many families have started having a second tree in the family room that includes keepsakes, child-made ornaments and other sentimental items. Another fun idea is to have a small tree reserved just for the kids. You can put this tree in the playroom and when friends or cousins come over for the holiday, they can have fun decorating their own tree with whatever theme they want.