How Many Lights Do You Need On Your Christmas Tree?

It is difficult to believe that the tradition of lights on our Christmas trees started when people began clipping candles to an actual tree inside their home, but according to Christmas Light Source, this fire hazard was the norm in the 1600s. In the late 1800s, electric lights were invented, and President Cleveland was among the first to use these new lights in the White House in 1895. Over the next century, Christmas lights evolved to the much safer styles we have today.

There is no set-in-stone rule about the number of lights you use on your Christmas tree. Thankfully, there are no Christmas light police to come arrest you for the terrible crime of an insufficiently lit tree, but there are some guidelines to give you an idea of how many to buy based on the size of the tree you have. Since strings of lights come in a range of lengths and number of bulbs, it is helpful to know the approximate number of lights so you can grab the right boxes and go. No one wants to be stuck trying to do math in their head while faced with a wall of lighting options.

Christmas light guidelines

Before you buy lights, you need to know the size of your tree. Ballard Designs suggests a minimum of 1,000 incandescent lights for a well-lit 7.5-foot tree. For a 9-foot tree, you'll need at least 1,500 lights. If you have super tall ceilings, a 10-foot tree should have a whopping 2,500 incandescent bulbs. It's probably a good idea to set aside a bit of time and a tall ladder for that many strings of lights!

For smaller trees, Lowe's has your answer. For standard illumination, calculate 100 lights for about every 18 inches of tree height. So if you have a 4-foot tree in your small apartment, you will need between 250 and 300 lights. For those who like to mix white lights with multicolor lights, you can get one string of 100 bulbs and two strings of multi, or vice versa. Whatever makes your heart happy.

For the rebels

Your tree lighting options are certainly not limited to simple strings of lights, even though those are common and can be purchased almost anywhere. There are many styles on the market today that allow you to get really creative with your tree design. Christmas Central suggests using a modern version of bubble lights, reminiscent of vintage lights with liquid that bubbled when it got warm. You can also find icicles and snowflake-shaped bulbs that make a fun addition to your festive tree. Go monochromatic for a sophisticated design, or embrace the maximalist style with various colors and shapes.

Whether you decide to be more minimalist with your tree lights or want to light it up like the Griswolds' house, check your strings before placing them on the tree. Nothing brings out the spirit of the Grinch quite like decorating your tree only to find half your lights are defective.