Spread holiday cheer with a merry backdrop of lights throughout your home. In this comprehensive guide, we walk you through easy tips and practical considerations on how to choose and hang Christmas lights.

How To Choose Your Christmas Lights

A Christmas tree decorated with multicolored Christmas lights

FEATURED: TWINKLY™ LIGHT STRING

For a seamless decorating experience, start by identifying the right Christmas lights for your space and theme. Here are our tips for choosing the perfect lights.

1. Find The Right Type Of Christmas Lights

Christmas lights come in a wide array of colors, sizes, and special features to suit different decorating styles. Learn more about the common light types to help narrow down your options.

Incandescent VS Led Christmas Lights

A close-up shot of Balsam Hill’s pre-lit tree with incandescent lights

Incandescent Lights

Incandescent Christmas lights heat a metal filament to produce light, emitting heat in the process. They are available at lower prices but burn out over time and consume more energy than LED lights.

A close-up shot of Balsam Hill’s pre-lit tree with LED lights

Led Christmas Lights

LED Christmas lights use light-emitting diodes that produce less heat and consume less energy than traditional lights. Although these usually cost more, LEDs last longer and help you save on electricity and replacement bulbs. Balsam Hill’s Candlelight™ Clear LED lights have the same warm glow as incandescent bulbs, unlike most clear LEDs that have a harsh white tone.

Clear VS Multicolored Christmas Lights

A close-up shot of Balsam Hill’s pre-lit tree with clear LED lights

Clear Christmas Lights

Channel the soft glow of candles with clear Christmas lights. This versatile lighting option complements both classic and modern decorating styles.

A close-up shot of Balsam Hill’s pre-lit tree with multicolored LED lights

Multicolored Christmas Lights

Create a festive look with a bright mix of colored Christmas lights. Multicolored lights work well with fun themes or traditional red and green ornaments.

Multicolored twinkly lights on tree

Color-Changing Lights

Enjoy the flexibility to customize your display with color-changing lights. Create unique light shows with our Twinkly™ lighting technology or opt for clip-on Christmas tree candles that switch from clear to multicolored.

Indoor VS Outdoor Christmas Lights

A room with a Christmas tree and various Christmas decorations

Indoor Christmas Lights

Not all Christmas lights are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Unless marked outdoor-safe, most lights should only be used indoors.

Façade of a house decorated with holiday wreaths, garlands, potted foliage, and Christmas lights

Outdoor String Lights

If you want to hang Christmas lights in exterior areas, make sure to use ones specifically marked outdoor-safe. Look for lights that have been approved by trusted companies such as UL (Underwriters Laboratory) or ETL (Edison Testing Laboratories).

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2. Measure Your Hanging Space

Once you’ve chosen your Christmas lights, measure the area where you plan to install them. Then, compare this with the length of the light strings to determine how many strands you’ll need. The standard length for a 50-light strand is 25 feet, while a 100-light strand usually measures 50 feet. For example, if you need to cover a 120-feet space, you’ll need at least five 50-light strands or three 100-light strands. You may need more if you're hanging the lights in a pattern.

3. Consider The Size Of Your Christmas Tree

Use the height of your tree as a guide in determining the number of bulbs you’ll need. Measure the highest point of the tree down to the bottom of your stand. Check out our recommended light counts for different Christmas tree heights:

Height Low Density Medium Density High Density
6.5 feet 325 650 975
7.5 feet 450 900 1350
9 feet 675 1350 2025
10 feet 800 1600 2400
11 feet 900 1800 2700
12 feet 1000 2000 3000

Note that the shape of your tree also affects the light count needed. Full Christmas trees require more bulbs compared to narrow or sparse trees of the same height.

How to String Lights On Your Christmas Tree

A man stringing lights on a Christmas tree

FEATURED: EASY WRAP LED LIGHT STRINGS

When hanging lights on your Christmas tree, make sure to use compatible strands with enough bulbs to meet your desired light density. Below are the materials and steps to follow when stringing lights on your tree.

Materials:

  • Measuring tape
  • Step ladder
  • Extension cord

Step 1|Untangle the String Lights

Untangle the lights carefully. Test the bulbs to make sure they are in good working condition.

Step 2|Secure the Lights

Coil the first set of lights loosely around your hands. Avoid dragging the strings across the floor.

Step 3|Hang the Christmas Lights

Make sure to leave enough slack for the plug to reach an extension cord or electrical outlet. Starting at the bottom, slowly coil the light string around the tree and weave the lights in and out of the branches.

Step 4|Circle the Tree

Continue to weave the lights around your tree and move upwards upon each rotation. Once the lights run out, plug in the next string. Use a step ladder as you reach the higher sections. Hide the socket within the branches.

Step 5|Plug in the Lights

Once finished, plug in the lights and check your tree from a distance. Adjust the placement of the strings if there are any branches hiding or covering the lights.

Insider’s Tip

If you're adding Christmas lights to a pre-lit tree, use a separate power source instead of connecting them to the
existing lights as this will void the lighting warranty.

Safety Tips For Stringing Lights On A Christmas Tree

  1. Use light strands that are compatible with each other. Check the packaging for information on whether you can use different brands of light strings together. To avoid connection issues, opt for lights from the same brand.
  2. Make sure the bulbs have the same wattage. This will prevent power surges and potential electrical failures.
  3. Use only one extension cord and do not overload it.
  4. Keep the extension cord out of reach of children and pets. Do not place it in the middle of the floor.

Insider’s Tip

As an alternative to hanging lights on a tree, consider a Balsam Hill™ pre-lit Christmas tree.
Learn more through our guide.

How To Hang Outdoor Christmas Lights

A collage of photos featuring houses decorated with Christmas lights and artificial foliage

LEFT PHOTO COURTESY OF COURTNEY FROM FRENCH COUNTRY COTTAGE

Outdoor lights add an enchanting glow to exterior spaces. Wrap them around greenery or hang in a pattern from eaves and railings. Remember to use proper tools and follow safety precautions for a trouble-free installation.

Materials:

  • Measuring tape
  • Ladder
  • Extension cords
  • Insulated hooks and light clips
  • Optional: Christmas light storage reel

Step 1|Untangle the Lights

Carefully untangle all the lights and lay them out on a dry surface. If you have one, a Christmas light storage reel is a handy tool that helps keep the strings from getting tangled and simplifies the installation process.

Step 2|Test the Bulbs

Plug in the light strings and check if the bulbs are all working.

Step 3|Attach the Hooks

Secure the hooks and clips in your chosen location. Spread out the hooks evenly to prevent the light strings from drooping or gaping.

Step 4|Hang the Strings

Carefully attach the light strands using the clips or the hooks. Make sure each section is free of tangles or twists.

Step 5|Plug in the Lights

Once the lights are in place, plug them in to ensure that the entire set-up works. Step back and check your display for any inconsistencies.

Insider’s Tip

Ask help from a family member or friend to spot uneven patterns while you're hanging Christmas lights,
so you can adjust them on the spot.

Safety Tips For Hanging Outdoor Christmas Lights

  1. When using a ladder, make sure to set it down on a dry and level surface.
  2. Have someone hold the ladder at the bottom to keep it from shifting throughout the process.
  3. Verify if the lights can be used outdoors.
  4. Avoid overloading extension cords. To be on the safe side, only use 75% of the available plugs and remember to use one plug per outlet.
  5. Use insulated nails or hooks to minimize electrical hazard.
  6. Do not pull or twist Christmas lights.

When the season is over, make sure to store your Christmas lights properly so you can use them for years to come. Visit this page for our storage tips.

We hope this guide helped you discover holiday lighting options and ideas for your home. If you have any questions, reach out to us here.

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LEARN MORE

For more Christmas decorating guides and ideas, visit the links below.

Guide to Christmas Tree Lights

Balsam Hill Christmas Tree Decorating Ideas

Balsam Hill Blog