Not sure how many lights to buy for your 6-foot tree? Find out how many strings or strands of lights you need to decorate every size Christmas tree with our handy guide.

By Real Simple Editors
Updated June 15, 2021

Cooking a turkey, getting grandma's stuffing just right, and creating the perfect curl of ribbon are just a few holiday techniques you can only learn by doing-and putting the lights on your Christmas tree poses the same challenge. Even if you know how to hang lights on a tree, figuring out how many lights you need for your Christmas tree can be its own mental gymnastics. Unfortunately, there's no one-size-fits-all rule for figuring out the right number of lights for your tree (just like everyone has their own pick for the best Christmas movies on Netflix). But figuring out how many lights your Christmas tree needs does have some simple guidelines.

"The average person usually has a 6-foot tree," says prop stylist and crafter Karin Lidbeck-Brent. "So an easy, general rule to remember is that for each foot of your tree, you'd want to use one strand of lights. I prefer the strands with 150 bulbs."

Still, there are really no hard and fast rules, says Lidbeck-Brent, who has decorated more than a thousand Christmas trees over the course of her career. First, it really depends on the height of your tree: Common sense dictates that a taller or broader tree will need more lights than a small or thin one. Second, you'll find that different people have different preferences when it comes to their Christmas trees. Some people like a luminescent, super-bright look, while others like the focus to be on the ornaments, not the lights, and go for a less-flashy look. Either way, you also have to consider how much space you have to store all those lights for the months of the year that you don't have a Christmas tree up.

We asked Lidbeck-Brent to share more tips on how many strings of Christmas lights you need to decorate your tree for your preferred look.

How many lights do you need for your Christmas tree this year?

Figure out approximately how tall your tree is and plan to use one strand of lights for each foot. (If you're using longer-than-average strands, adjust your number of light strands accordingly.) And, of course, if you decorated a tree of similar height last year and liked the final look just fine, stick with the number of lights you used for your Christmas tree then-if it ain't broke don't fix it, right?

Our easy lights-per-foot of Christmas tree guide will tell you exactly how many strands of lights you need, plus a range of the number of lights you might want, depending on the desired brightness of the tree.

How many lights for Christmas tree per foot - Infographic with how many lights for 6 feet, 7 feet, and more feet of Christmas tree
Credit: Yeji Kim

Admittedly, Lidbeck-Brent uses more lights for Christmas trees than the average person, but she does recommend buying an extra strand or two just in case. Then if you decorate the whole tree and see a gap in your coverage, you can use the extras and an extension cord to fill it. If you really love lights, have an extra three strands on hand.

The right amount tends to be 150 lights per strand, but you can buy Christmas lights with more lights per strand-so 200 lights per strand would work best if you want a very bright tree, while you'd want to opt for 100 lights per strand if you wanted a less twinkly look.

"Figure out what your priorities are before you start decorating. If you want your ornaments to show and be the star, use fewer lights. If you overdo it on the lights, the glare will bedazzle your ornaments so you won't be able to see them," says Lidbeck-Brent.