Putting lights on the Christmas tree may not be the most glamorous part of tree decorating, but the glittering results are worth the effort.
Step 1: Do a light-check If you’re using last year’s lights, check them to make sure they don’t have any frayed wires, burned-out bulbs, or cracked sockets. If you are buying lights, figure on 100 lights for every foot of tree. Don’t connect more sets than the manufacturer suggests or you might blow a fuse.
TIP: Consider using LED lights, available where other tree lights are sold. They cost a bit more, but they stay cool to the touch, last longer, and consume less energy.
Step 2: Make sure they’re compatible Verify that all your lights work together. Tree lights come in two types: Stacked or end-to-end. Stacked plugs allow you to join more strands than the end-to-end variety.
TIP: Always hang lights before any tinsel, garlands, or ornaments.
Step 3: Light from within Start by lighting the tree from within. Beginning at the top of the tree, wrap a string of lights around the trunk.
Step 4: String the lights Now light the branches. Starting again at the top with a new strand of lights, wrap the non-plug end around a branch to secure it, then begin winding the string down and around the tree, letting it rest lightly on the outermost branch tips. When you come to the end of one string, just attach the next string of lights and start where you left off. Take care not to cross the strands.
TIP: You may need extension cords to plug in your lights. Just don’t attach more than two.
Step 5: Secure lights on fake trees If you’re lighting an artificial tree and intend to leave the lights attached when you store it, secure them by wrapping the cord around individual branches every few feet. If your tree disassembles in sections, string the lights so that each section has its own strand.
Step 6: Check your work Turn on the lights and step a few feet back from the tree. Walk around it, checking whether the lights are evenly spaced and looking for dark areas. Make any adjustments needed.
Step 7: Admire your handiwork Fix yourself a hot toddy, dim the lights, and admire your handiwork.
FACT: In the 17th century, people illuminated Christmas trees with tiny candles attached to branches with wax or pins. In part because they presented such a fire danger, trees did not go up until Christmas Eve to ensure freshness.