Let there be lights, and lights, and lights, and more lights….


“The lights on my tree
I wish you could see”

Those just aren’t lines from Karen Carpenter’s Merry Christmas Darling, but I really do wish you could see my tree lights.  I have a “thing” with lights on the tree.  It all stems to my childhood (doesn’t everything start there?!)

Well, my Dad would take hours to put on the lights and the tree always just dazzled.  I never was given the job to put the lights on but in high school I was asked to take them off.  Oh man, was that a job.  My Dad would wind and twine the lights around and it was a crazy mess to figure out how to get the lights off.  Well, now that I have my own family and our own tree, I want the dazzle of the Christmas lights too.  I have developed my own method for putting on the lights and it takes me a good evening’s work but I think it is worth it. So I have decided to share my process with you.

Oh- and taking them off?  It isn’t a chore anymore.  Since we have a real tree I just use some pruning shears to cut branches off when I get in a fix!

First things first

Set the mood with your favorite Christmas music blaring through the house.  Then put on some work clothes that you don’t mind getting a bit sappy in case the tree is in the giving mood!  Also, wear socks- this will allow you to know if you are stepping on lights before you crush them.

Now for your supplies:

  • 1 surge protector.
  • lots of lights!  I use the 100 strands of lights.  Currently we have just white lights but my girls would love for me to get colored.  I need to buy some after Christmas to have as we use a lot of lights.
  • water bottle full of water.  I always get thirsty when working on the lights.

Getting started.

I will plug into a different wall three strands of lights, end-to-end.  This lets me know that A) the lights still work and B) that the plugs “fit” each other.  There is nothing worse that getting to a critical place in the tree and reaching for the next strand of lights only to find out that the plugs to jive with each other.  Also, in doing this I remember how many lights I have strung together already as I work from the 3 plugged in.  Once they are gone, I get three more to test and start from the surge protector again.

Test the lights- Do they work? Do they fit together?


This is a good time to make sure you know that you really shouldn’t plug more than 3 strands of 100 lights end-to-end (or 6 strands of the 50).  You don’t want all your hard work to catch on fire.

So two plugged here means six strands already on the tree!

The Tree

I didn’t mention it earlier, but really I think the tree makes the difference.  My favorite tree is a Nobel Fir, but they don’t seem to provide them for purchase where I live.  So, now we get a Frasier Fir.  I like it because the needles are soft and the limbs are pliable yet strong (not as strong as a Nobel though).  If your tree is very thick it may be difficult to really light up all parts of the tree.

The Frasier Fir

Let the Lighting Begin!

Now I just start going up and around.  I go down each branch from tip to trunk spreading the light to all the dark places of the tree!  It is fun.  I wrap lights around the branch to make sure it is in place.  Here is my first set of lights.  I don’t have a plan like you read on “how-to” blogs such as divide the tree into thirds, work from top to bottom, work from inside to out.  I found that I was more stressed when I tried to follow a plan.  Instead, my plan is to light every branch of  the tree…literally.  Now this year I tried to hold back a bit and not feel like every single branch needed lights….that is a huge step for me!

Here are some of my tips:

  • Once you get high on the tree and need to start a new strand of 3, drop the plug down the trunk from the area you want to start rather than working up from the surge protector.
  • Use green twist ties to your advantage.  Sometimes you need to hold a plug end securely in place so it doesn’t drop down into view.  I use twist ties.  I also use these to hold a strand that I have pretty much finished and it is starting to short out on me when it wiggles a certain way.  I will try a twist tie to hold it in place and see if that works out the kink!
  • Step back from the tree often to see where you need to go.

Here are some photos of the dawning of the Christmas lights:

The first set of lights- flash is turned off.

Getting there

Don't forget about the back of the tree too!

Almost Done!

All done---Let there be light!

Any guesses on how many lights this year on our tree?


6 responses »

  1. Well, they say that you can tell a person’s character from the way they deal with Christmas lights. That says a lot about me, since I greatly prefer the pre-lit artificial tree! Ours is very pretty, too, but I have to spray the tree smell around the house!! If I ever get my house clean, I’ll send pics of my decorations…very nice, I must say!

    Your tree is gorgeous…wish I could smell it!

  2. I always love the way you do the lights on your tree! It is so sparkly and beautiful!! My guess is1200. But I bet your Dad is right- I think he should know 😉

  3. I was hoping that Lynn would take a guess, but since I outed the number on facebook tonight I’m thinking the time for taking guesses is over.
    1800 lights this year. So Dad comes in the winner—I learned it all from you Dad 🙂
    For your prize I will make your Christmas Dinner.

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