Christmas Lights Frequently Asked Questions

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For all your holiday needs, check out our Christmas lights frequently asked questions below.

How to Buy Christmas Lights

Naturally, the first step to setting up your decor is to actually have the decor.

But shopping for lights isn’t always easy. There are a lot things you’ll have to consider, including how many you’ll need, and how easily they’ll connect to one another.

Lights can also range in price from just a few dollars, to over fifty dollars. What you pay depends largely on where you buy, as well as the types of lights that you purchase.

Traditional string or twinkle lights are usually a more budget friendly options, while unique items like cascade lights or lights with ornamental bulbs are more expensive.

For more information about the different types of lights that you can purchase, check out our easy outdoor Christmas lights guide.

Read below to figure out where to buy lights, as well as how many you can expect to purchase.

Where to Buy Christmas Lights

Thankfully, it’s not difficult to find lights. You can purchase them on just about any major online retailer. You can also find them at specialty markets online.

Where you choose to shop really depends on your priorities. There are a few things you’ll need to consider, be it price or quality.

For budget lights, go to budget stores. Here are some great places to buy lights at a decent price:

  • The Dollar Store: This is one of the cheapest ways to get a lot of lights. The only downside is that you can only order in bulk if you plan to buy online.
  • Amazon: Obviously this major retailer is a great place to get a lot of different options, at competitive prices.
  • Home Improvement Stores: Places like Home Depot and Lowe’s will often have fair deals on basic string lights.

Of course, the price also depends a lot on what you’re expecting. Cheaper lights tend to be made of plastic, and are not designed to withstand multiple years of storage and use. Although you’re initially saving money, you’ll likely have to purchase new lights often.

String and twinkle lights are also cheapest because they’re relatively simple. With these options, you’re usually getting the most lights, for the least price.

That said, some people may find them a bit boring. It’s nice to mix them up with a more creative, ornamental option. This options, however, do cost a bit more money.

If you’re looking for quality, or unique looking lights, here are some places where you can find them:

  • Specialty Lights Outlets: These stores specialize in lights, which is shy they tend to sell better quality options. They also tend to have wider options for the style of lights available.
  • Amazon: Again, this major retailer has a ton of options. You should be able to find something really unique for your decor. However, you will want to read the product reviews to make sure you’re getting quality.
  • In Stores: If you’re really after the quality, go to a specialty Christmas store, or major retailer in person. This will allow you to examine the lights for yourself before purchasing. You’re also likely to see some options that are a little different from the usual ones.

Overall, there are plenty of places to buy lights online, or in person. To help you out, narrow down your shopping list before you start.

Consider what types of lights you want, as well as what color. You’ll also need to set a specific budget that takes into account how many sets you’ll need to buy.

With these factors decided beforehand, it will be easier to find the right store, and the right products for you.

How many Christmas Lights can you String Together?

Most light sets that you can purchase are designed to be put together. As such, you can string together as many as four or five, depending on the set.

This is made possible by the addition of both male and female plugs on each strand. They can essentially plug into one another, in one long strand, that eventually plugs into an outlet.

Some sets also come with additional extenders, giving you plenty of options for how you want to string them all.

Just keep in mind that you don’t want to push things too much. Don’t connect more strands than your set recommends. And don’t mix and match strands from different sets.

You can still use more than one type of light, just keep them plugged in separately.

How Many Christmas Lights do I Need for my House?

Figuring out exactly how many lights you’ll need can get complicated. It doesn’t help that you often have to plan of both indoor and outdoor decor.

Here’s what you need to know in order to plan effectively.

Bulb Density

Bulb density is essentially how far apart the individual lights are on a strand. This number can vary from as little as one inch, to as much as six.

A higher bulb density will give you brighter lights. However, the strands are usually shorter in length.

Longer strands, on the other hand, tend to have a lower bulb density. This keeps the cost down, however it also lowers the overall brightness.

For smaller areas, go with higher density, to really make the space pop. For general decorating, especially outdoors, stick to lower density. This will help you maximize your lights.

Overall Length

When buying string lights, most will come with the overall length advertised. This is not the length of the individual strands, but the length when all the strands are put together.

Sets commonly come with around four or five individual strands. You can use them separately, all together, or in some combination thereof. That’s what makes these sets so convenient.

For other lights, you’ll have to read the packaging a little more carefully.

Lights that are more ornamental in nature tend to have fewer strands per pack, and less length overall. Use these more as accents, rather than you’re full lighting option.

Indoor Lights

Here are some of the things that are popular to decorate indoors,, as well as how many strings you can expect to need:

  • Garlands: These popular accents usually sit across mantles or windowsills. For the average window or fireplace, you can usually expect to only need one strand per garland. You can also consider purchasing pre-lit garlands for fireplaces or windows.
  • Windows: Apart from garlands, using curtains lights or lighted silhouettes is a popular option for decorating windows. If you want to outline your window in string lights, expect to use around 1-2 strands, for the average window sizes.
  • Stair Banister or Handrail: The amount of Christmas lights for stair banisters really depends on the nature of your stairs. Depending on your ceiling height, you can get away with one longer strand per handrail. Expect to use closer to four if you plan to wrap the balusters.
  • Christmas Tree: Continue reading to see how many lights you’ll need for your tree.

Outdoor Lights

Deciding how many outdoor lights to buy is trickier. There’s so much variation in homes and styles, that it’s hard to give a general recommendation.

If you’re buying a set that has around 60 feet worth of lights, you’ll probably need three or four strands per area. (So for example, expect to use a set to wrap your front porch, and another set to wrap around the tree in the front yard.)

Again, this really depends on a lot of different factors. If possible, the best solution is to measure the area you want to put the lights at, and then purchase your sets accordingly.

For trees and other odd areas that can’t really be measured, use your other measurements to help you estimate.

Christmas Tree Lights

Tree lights are so important during the holidays that they definitely deserve their own section. Here are all the basics for putting lights on trees.

How Many Christmas Lights for Tree

How many lights you need for your tree depends on a few factors, namely the style you’re going for, and how large your tree is.

But for an average tree, two to three, average length strands is probably sufficient.

How Many Christmas Lights for a 6ft Tree or Larger

The amount of lights you’ll need for taller trees depends on your preference for bulb density.

Here’s a basic guild-line you can follow to make sure that your tree is bright and festive:

  • 6ft tree: 250-500 lights
  • 7ft tree: 500-700 lights
  • 8ft tree: 600+ lights

Exactly how many strands of lights that requires really depends on the length of the set you’re purchasing. Since you know how tall your tree is , you should be able to figure out an appropriate length.

How to put Christmas Lights on Trees

When wrapping your tree with lights, start from the outlet first. You’ll need to make sure that your lights will be able to reach a nearby outlet before you get too far into decorating. Keep in mind that and extension cord can save you a lot of trouble.

It’s also easier to string a few strands together, before you start.

For a classic look, wrap the strands from the bottom, upwards. Focus on staggering the lights upwards on each pass.

When you reach the top, wrap any extra lights downwards, in the gaps between the strands. Your goal is to reach the bottom and tuck away the ending plug so that it’s hidden.

Throughout the process, add more strands as needed. You’ll likely need around two or three to decorate an average tree with this method.

An alternative way to do your lights, is to hang them from the top down, vertically. This creates a vertical striped pattern on your tree.

After starting at your outlet, run one strand up towards the top of the tree. When you reach the top, wrap it once, and then draw the strand downwards.

When you reach the bottom, try to wrap the strand discretely near the base of the tree. Then draw the lights upwards once more, repeating the process until the tree is covered.

To complete the look, you’ll likely need three or four strands, depending on how many stripes you want, and how large your tree is. Again, you can always add strands as needed, when decorating.

You’ll also want to cover the wrapped strands at the top with a good tree topper.

Storage and Maintenance

When it comes time to pack your lights away, there are a few things you can do to make your life easier.

Christmas Lights Storage Hacks

There’s no right way to store your lights, but there is definitely a wrong way.

Do not wrap them in a round shape and throw them in a box. This a a great way to ensure that you’ll be fighting with a tangled mess next year.

One of the easiest methods I’ve found is the water bottle method. With this method, you just wrap the lights around a water bottle. Here are the basic steps to recreate this storage hack:

  1. Get a 16.9 oz water bottle or larger.
  2. Cut the top and bottom off of the bottle. (Skip this step if your bottle is not easy to cut.)
  3. Cut a 1/2 inch long slit into the top and bottom.
  4. Slide one plug into the slit at the top to secure it. (You can tape it to the neck instead, if you didn’t cut your bottle.)
  5. Wrap the rest of the strand around the bottle, moving from the top downwards.
  6. When you reach the end, secure the other plug in the slit at the bottom. (Again, you can tape it instead.)

I like this method because it’s versatile and accessible. All you have to do to store all your lights is buy a pack of water. And you can purchase larger bottles if you need to store longer strands.

A similar but equally easy method is to use cardboard. This method is another one that’s easy to complete, and uses items that most people will have on hand.

Here’s how to store your Christmas Lights with Cardboard:

  1. Get a rectangle of stiff cardboard. (Most lights will fit on something that’s about 12×10.)
  2. Cut slits onto one of the longer sides of the cardboard, about 2 inches deep. Space them about an 1-2 inches apart.
  3. Repeat the process on the opposite side, alternating the slits.
  4. Cut a smaller slit into both of the shorter sides.
  5. Secure one plug in the smaller slit on the side.
  6. Wrap the lights around the longer edge of the cardboard, securing the strand in each of the slits as you go.
  7. Secure the other plug in the free slit on the shorter side.

I like this method because it’s a great way to re-purpose all those leftover gift boxes. It’s also helpful for storage, since it lays the lights flat.

How to Fix Christmas Lights When Half are Out

Most light repairs are easy to do. Just use the replacement bulbs and directions that came with your set. You can also find a large amount of replacement bulbs at specialty lights outlets.

For larger repairs, you’re better off taking them to an expert, or simply buying a new strand.

For some DIY advice check out this great tutorial:

Other Supplies You’ll Need

When planning out your Christmas shopping, don’t forget that there are plenty of other things you’ll need in order to hang your lights properly. Here are some of the other supplies that are usually required when hanging lights:

  • Ladder and/or step stool
  • Command Hooks/ tape/ Some other method of hanging
  • Indoor/ Outdoor extension cables

Those are the basic additions that you can expect. Depending on how complicated your design will be, you may need to purchase a few other items.

Easy Holiday Lighting

And that’s all you need to know about Christmas lights! Hopefully you were able to have your questions answered on this FAQ guide.

When hanging lights just remember to be safe, and have fun! The best part about the holidays isn’t having the best light display, it’s making memories.

So don’t forget to enjoy your holiday season to the fullest!

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