Don’t run out of lights! Find out how many feet and strings of Christmas lights you need to decorate your tree.

Danny Kim

Cooking a turkey, getting grandma’s stuffing just right, or creating the perfect curl of ribbon are just a few holiday techniques you can only learn by doing. Putting the lights on your Christmas tree is no exception. Wondering, “How many lights do I need for my Christmas tree?” We spoke to Karin Lidbeck-Brent, a prop stylist and crafter, who’s decorated more than a thousand Christmas trees over the course of her career, about how many strings of Christmas lights you need to decorate your tree so it will look picture perfect.

How Many Lights on a Christmas Tree?

“There are really no hard and fast rules—a lot depends on personal preference. The average person usually has a six-foot tree,” says 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 one hundred and fifty bulbs.”

Admittedly, Lidbeck-Brent uses more lights 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. Remember that you can buy Christmas lights with more lights per strand—so two hundred lights per strand would work best if you want a very bright tree while you’d want to opt for a hundred lights per strand if you wanted a less twinkly look. A hundred and fifty tends to be just the right amount.

How to Put Lights on a Christmas Tree?

“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.

For the best results, she advises starting at the bottom of the tree so you’re closest to the outlet. Use a multi-outlet strip so you have more than one outlet for extension cords. Starting at the bottom, wind lights on the inside and the outside of the tree. Go in towards the trunk, and then bring the lights out about three-quarters of the way, and back. As the branches get shorter you can just go around and around. If you need to, use floral wire to attach lights to tricky branches. Or if you’re looking to go the easy route you can just wind the lights around without tucking them inside the tree.

And you’re done! Now onto the fun part—hanging the ornaments.

Oh and just in case you hate math as much as we do, here’s an easy breakdown of what you’ll need based on your tree height. Just to be safe, we’ve included two extra strands for each measurement!

Christmas Tree HeightNumber of Christmas Lights
5 Feet150 lights per strand / 7 strands
5 Feet150 lights per strand / 7 strands
6 Feet150 lights per strand / 8 strands
7 Feet150 lights per strand / 9 strands
8 Feet150 lights per strand / 10 strands
9 Feet150 lights per strand / 11 strands
10 Feet150 lights per strand / 12 strands
11 Feet150 lights per strand / 13 strands
12 Feet150 lights per strand / 14 strands

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