Creating a magical glow of lights on an artificial tree isn't difficult, but it demands patience; on a fresh tree, it calls for both patience and a trick of the trade.
Christmas tree lights are either stacked or end to end, also called string to string. Check the boxes of lights before you buy to make sure they're all compatible. You can join more strands with stacked plugs than you can with end-to-end type plugs. Be sure to check the box for the manufacturer's recommendations, however. Usually you can string together three 100-light strands or six 50-light strands.
For a fresh tree, plan for three 100-light sets per tree foot.
For an artificial tree, use 50-light strands: the 100-light strands are two 50-light strands wired together, and the 50-light strands are easier to work with as you wrap the tree branches. In addition, the 50-light sets are less likely to burn out or have electrical problems.
For subdued lighting, use about 12 boxes for a 6-foot tree and about 20 boxes for an 8-foot tree. For moderate lighting, use 20 boxes for a 6-foot tree and 30 boxes for an 8-foot tree. For showcase lighting, use 40 boxes and 80 boxes, respectively.
- If you floodlight evergreens outdoors, use white, blue, or green lamps; red, yellow, amber, and pink lamps may make the trees look a muddy brown.
- Don't try to hang strings of lights from the eaves with cuphooks -- in a strong wind, the wires may swing loose. Instead, use plastic gutter clips that hook onto the gutter and hold the wire tightly in place. Look for packages of gutter clips in crafts stores and hardware stores with the tree lights and supplies.
- Be sure you have outdoor electrical sockets to plug into when you use outdoor lights.
- Don't worry about hiding the electrical cords -- just keep them organized neatly, and no one will notice them.
Continued on page 2: Lighting a Fresh Tree