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Christmas Tree Lighting Tips and Tricks

I remember the crazy days just after Thanksgiving when my three brothers and I would decorate our family Christmas tree while my parents sat back and laughed at our excitement. I, being significantly shorter than my brothers, usually covered the bottom third of the tree with my favorite ornaments while my brothers handled the rest. Of course, even they couldn’t reach the top of the tree for many years which led to a scantily decorated tree towards the top. Eventually it evened out as my brothers grew. 

christmas tree with lighting

Now-a-days I have a much shorter tree and decorate it with my husband. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more particular about how my tree looks and want to make sure the ornaments cover my tree effectively (while looking gorgeous of course). Much to my husband’s dismay I would unpack all of our tree decorations and lay them out on our living room floor to take inventory of what I have and come up with my general game plan (resulting in glitter everywhere). I did this until I came across I learned tree decorating 101 which showed me exactly how to look at my tree and decorate accordingly to make it beautiful (like I’ve said before, I love the holidays).

Before any ornaments or garland are added to your Christmas tree, you have to add the lights (unless you have a pre-lit tree). But how many lights are needed? In general, about 100 light bulbs are needed for each foot of vertical space. For example, a four foot tree would need 400 lights. If you’re like me and want your tree to be extra twinkly, you may want to consider adding 150 lights per foot.


Once you have the lights up, it’s time to add the ornaments. The best way to make sure your tree is decorated evenly is to think about it in quarters. The bottom 25% of the tree will get 40% of the ornaments since it’s the largest section. The second 25% will get 30%, the third section will get 20% and the top part of your tree will get the final 10% of your ornaments. This trick in itself can save you a lot of time thinking about balance.

Another tip to tree decorating is thinking about the layout of your ornaments. In general, the designs fall into two categories, even layout and spiral layout. I personally like an even layout because I feel like it covers more of my tree. To create an even look, distribute the ornaments in an even pattern (think about some type of grid in your mind and follow those lines. For a spiral look, place your larger, heavier ornaments on the tree in diagonal lines, then fill in the rest to fill that space.

Now you’re ready to decorate your Christmas trees. Trust me; taking a few minutes to think about how you want your tree to look when it’s done will save you time, energy and a lot of glitter on your carpet.

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