Apartment Living BlogHome DÉcor › How Many Lights Should Go on a Christmas Tree?

Those unearthly beautiful Christmas trees on magazine covers really set the mood for the holiday. Yet when it comes to decorating our own, they never quite turn out the same. The lights are always brighter, well balanced, and all click together to make a gorgeous tree, but ours… aren’t.

What is the science and technique behind those artistically decorated trees, and how many lights do you need to make yours as stunning?

1. It Depends on the Size and Type of Christmas Tree
More means better when it comes to Christmas tree lights, right? But you require a stylish centerpiece for the holidays—not a slightly green strobe light in your living room. A tree that’s too cluttered with lights will look as shabby as one that’s left mostly bare. First, evaluate whether you’ll have a live tree or an artificial one. Artificial trees come in a variety of colors, and those in paler shades such as white, blue, or pink will require less lighting. They already have a bright atmosphere; additional whites, blues, and reds will only blend in. A natural tree, however, will require more lights than even a dark-colored artificial tree, as it will slowly lose its needles and thin out as the holidays progress, so give it extra lights to keep it looking beautiful.

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2. But on Average – 600 Mini Lights or 450 5mm LEDs Does the Trick
With so much riding on the holiday season, it’s no wonder magazines have narrowed down their tree decorations to a science. The formula goes as follows for indoor trees:

4 foot tree = 400 mini lights, or 300 5mm LEDs
6 foot tree = 600 mini lights, or 450 5mm LEDs
8 foot tree = 800 mini lights, or 600 5mm LEDs

The logic behind this calculation is 100 lights over each individual foot of a tree, so that there’s equal coverage. Remember, depending on how wide or deep your tree is, your lights will be dimmed by the needles and ornaments, and need a few extra in order to truly shine through.

3. Don’t Forget the Type of Bulbs You Need
Thicker bulbs aren’t always the answer. By mixing larger bulbs with smaller, the brighter ones draw the eye to focal points in the tree, while the smaller speckle it with a lovely glow that makes it beautiful from afar. Magazines use this tactic in pictures especially, as viewer’s attention will be drawn to the most lush portions of the tree, while the small lights are subtle enough to fool the eye into thinking every portion is perfect.

4. The Placement of Your Bulbs is Everything
No matter how many lights you have or how well you follow the formula, if you don’t use some stylistic sense when applying them, your tree will be a flop. Evaluate your tree and how the branches lay. For the thicker parts of your tree, lay your lights more on the outside of their branches, while for the thinner, wrap them deep and in layers. This will give the impression of even coverage. Even if some branches boast of fewer lights than the next; the eye will assume they don’t.

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5. Coordinate Your Ornaments
If you have a massive collection of ornaments, gathered thanks to a hobby or lots of crafty kids, your lighting needs to adjust. If your tree is too busy with dozens of colors and shapes, colored lights will only add to this and create a cluttered look. In this case, pale, and more subtle lights, will allow the eye to settle on the ornaments without being distracted by the rest of the fanfare.

If you’re more selective with ornaments, then your tree can be left looking bare and plain with simple colors. Use an assortment of colored lights—either multicolored strings, or one or two strings of different colors—to spice up the theme and allow the eye to appreciate the contrasts.

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6. Remember the Rest of the Background
Lighting is only half the battle—you also have to consider the room surrounding your tree. Magazines understand the importance of background, so your living room’s style will either help or hinder your tree. By employing cheap ways to decorate your apartment walls, you can get your place in top condition for making your tree look designer, and if you plan it well, can have a setting that accommodates any holiday. Well=placed mirrors can give a magnifying effect.



The secret to a perfectly lit tree is choosing the right number of lights, but also throwing in some stylistic expertise. This all adds up to a tree worthy of a magazine cover.

About :

Amber is the Director of Content Marketing for ForRent.com and has been with the company since April 2007. In her role, Amber strategizes, executes and optimizes a content and social media plans across multiple channels and platforms. This includes blogs, social networks, video sharing sites, and other conversational media. She spends a great deal of time building relationships with consumers, social media influencers, and bloggers to generate awareness of the ForRent.com brands. In her free time, Amber loves running, #hashtags, and DIY projects.

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