6 Ways to Hang Christmas Lights on a Tree

Is your tree-lighting style a mix of “it goes where it goes” and knotted wires? We’ll show you the best ways to put lights on a Christmas tree. Plus, get our tips for layering Christmas tree lights for a professional look!

This Christmas, decorate a perfectly-lit tree with our easy Christmas tree lighting hacks!

Putting Christmas 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.

Editor's tip: For a fresh tree, plan for three 100-light sets per tree foot. For an artificial tree, use the shorter 50-light strands—they're easier to work with as you wrap the tree branches.

Put Lights on a Christmas Tree the Right Way

Are you one of the Christmas tree decorators who walk in circles around their tree and hope for the best? We know you're just trying to figure out how to put lights on a Christmas tree the right way. This is a simple upgrade to your regular Christmas tree lights routine.

So here's how: Cover more tree in sparkle with fewer lights by working the string of lights under and over each branch. Follow this pattern all around the tree, working from the bottom to the top. It's simple, but it makes a lot of difference by actually covering your tree in lights instead of lassoing it.

Hang Christmas Tree Lights Vertically

Horizontal is traditional, sure, but this small change in orientation makes a big change in presentation. Instead of wrapping the lights around the tree from top to bottom, hang Christmas tree lights vertically.

Mentally divide the tree into three triangular sections. String lights by starting the string at the bottom of the tree and pulling it up to the top, then back down like a mountain. Continue to move up and down the tree. Once you’ve wrapped the tree, tuck the strands farther in on the branches to make room for ornaments.

Zig-Zag Across the Tree

If you want an edgier look, consider zig-zagging lights across your tree in sections. Mentally divide your tree into thirds. Plug in the first string of lights. Nestle the bulb at the other end of the string at the top of the tree. Weave the lights back and forth across one third of the tree, being careful not to cross the cord over itself.

When you reach the end of the first string, unplug it, attach the next set, and continue weaving the lights back and forth until you reach the bottom. Make sure to check manufacturer recommendations for how many strings can be put together. Repeat this procedure for the remaining tree thirds.

Editor's tip: To see how well your lights are spaced, step back from the tree and look at it with your eyes crossed or squinted. Wherever you see dark holes on the tree, rearrange the lights as necessary to fill in.

Wrap Lights Around a Christmas Tree

Add dimension to your tree’s sparkle by looping the strings a couple times around on each branch, getting some of the lights closer to the trunk. Work your way from bottom of the tree to top on this one.

Do This to Never Have to Decorate a Tree Again

Skip the pain of untangling lights each year by keeping the lights wrapped on your tree. This is a great idea for smaller artificial trees that are set up in sections instead of by individual branches. You'll wrap each individual branch with lights so they don't hang loose.

Start the lights near the trunk, and pull the strand straight to the tip of the branch. Make a loop around the end of the branch. Work back toward the trunk by wrapping the cord around each section of the branch.

Continue wrapping branches in this manner to the end of the string. Plug in the next set and keep going. Pay attention to where the tree divides and start a new cord on the next section. At the end of the season, take the tree apart, fold down the branches, and store like normal!

Use Two Kinds of Christmas Lights—Seriously

If you want the effect of a Rockefeller tree in your living room, you'll need extra light. To make your tree really wow, pair different-size bulbs with different stringing techniques. We like to string larger lights on first using the weave technique, then layer in the smaller LED lights closer to the trunk using the branch-wrapping technique. It covers your entire tree and shines bright for all to see.


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