How to Determine Exactly How Many Christmas Lights You Need

There is an unspoken rule that any Christmas comedy should include a scene in which one of the characters is completely entangled in a garland of holiday lights. And while this situation may seem funny on screen when it happens in your living room, it can be hard to find humor in it.

In fact, just about everything in these strings of tiny clear or colored lights is annoying and hassle-free, including knowing how many feet to buy to decorate your tree. Luckily, the editors of Real Simple have put together a handy guide to help you determine how many feet of these lights you will need for your tree. Here’s what you need to know.

There is a formula (sort of)

Of course, there are countless variables when it comes to the size of Christmas trees (especially living ones), but generally, for every foot tall, you’ll need one string of lights with 150 bulbs, stylist props, and Master Karin Leadbeck-Brent told Real Simple . Most people tend to get trees about six feet tall, she said, so that would require six branches with roughly 900 bulbs.

Other factors to consider

When it comes to decorating Christmas trees, Leadbeck-Brent knows what she’s talking about : she has decorated over a thousand in her career. And as useful as the formula is, it also highlights that there are other factors to consider when purchasing fixtures for your tree. These include:

  • Tree width: The formula takes into account the height of the tree, but they can also vary significantly in width. If your tree is especially wide, you will need more light.
  • Amount of light emitted : If you want a very bright tree, choose a light with 200 bulbs per branch. For a delicate, duller wood, choose strands with 100 light bulbs. Leadbeck-Brent considers 150 bulbs per string to be the golden mean.
  • Optional : Accidents happen or sometimes you finish lighting the tree and realize there are gaps in it, so Leadback-Brent recommends buying an extra strand or two just in case.
  • Storage space : How much space do you have to store all of these lamps for the other 11 months of the year?

Sure, you could work that out, but making a plan will make the whole process easier. “Before you start decorating, determine your priorities,” Leadbeck-Brent told Real Simple. “If you want your jewelry to stand out and be a star, use fewer lights. If you overdo it with light, the glare will dazzle your jewelry and you won’t be able to see it. “


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