How Many Lights Do You Need For Your Christmas Tree?

Your Christmas tree is likely the centrepiece of your home's festive decorations. It may well be the first decoration visitors see when they step through the door, which is why it's crucial to have the correct number of decorations and lighting. 

While you want your sparkling Christmas tree to look as seasonal as possible, finding the right length of lights isn't always easy, especially if you've just bought a new tree this year.

Here's how to figure out how many lights you'll need, plus a series of top tips for making your tree shine.

Number of LEDs

Even though there's no firm rule for how many lights you need, there are a few general things to consider before choosing your Christmas tree lights. Ultimately, it's your tree, so you can put as many or as few lights on it as you want!

How many lights do I need?

For the best coverage on your unlit Christmas tree, about 100 bulbs are recommended for every two feet of tree. If you have a 6 foot artificial Christmas tree, you'll need a string of 300 LEDs to light up your tree perfectly.

Using this as a rule, here’s how many lights you’ll need for different sized Christmas trees. Note: this is the minimum number of lights you will need to cover your tree. Putting more on will only add to the lighting display, but going below the minimum could make your tree look empty.

Tree sizeNumber of lights
3ft tree150
4ft tree200
5ft tree300
6ft tree400
7ft tree500

However, a lot of people prefer to use roughly twice as many lights to create as much sparkle as possible. For example, some people use:

The number of windows and ceiling lights in your home is another factor to consider, as these lights can affect how your tree looks, especially as lighting changes throughout the day. You might want to add lights to your tree and then take note of its brightness in the afternoon, evening and at night.

How many decorations are on your tree?

Another factor to consider when choosing your lights is whether these will fit well with your Christmas tree decorations. The first thing to do is work out how many decorations and accessories you need for your tree size.

Determining the number of decorations is often tricker than lights because these can all be different shapes and sizes. Estimates can end up fairly broad and depend on the height and diameter of your tree.

The type of decorations similarly affects how many your tree can hold. If you have small Christmas baubles or ornaments, you can fit more on each branch. However, heavier decorations can weigh each branch down, limiting the total number you can use.

Types of Christmas lights

It isn't just your tree size and decorations that can sway your decision on lights. There are many different types of lights to pick from and the style you choose will influence the number you need to cover your tree.

Here's a rundown of the different options.

String lights

LED string lights are one of the most classic types of festive lighting. Sometimes known as fairy lights, they have medium-sized bulbs that alternate on each side of the string. LED bulbs are available in various lengths, colours, and shapes, although they'll be uniform along the string.

String lights are one of the smallest types of Christmas lights available and are best if you want an even display of lighting on your tree. Many have multiple flashing settings and the average space between bulbs is 10cm, spacing out your lighting perfectly. For a fuller appearance on your tree, you'll want to double the number of lights used.  

Because they're the most popular type of light, they're usually considered the basis for most estimates. If you're using different lights, compare their size to fairy lights, and adjust your estimate accordingly.

Cluster lights

If you're looking to pack your tree full of lights, consider cluster lights. They have the most lights per string, with the average space between bulbs being around 2.5cm. The bulbs alternate in groups, so they'll have five lights on one side, five lights on the other, and so on.

Cluster lights are popular in homes, but you'll find them in many public displays too. They're available in many different colours and are ideal for a full decorative look.  

If you follow the 100 lights per two foot rule, your tree will look bright and full! However, you can also double the number to create a more dazzling design.

Battery powered lights

Whether you're short on space or don't have enough plugs, battery powered lights are another type to consider. These lights are easy to string around a tree and can even be used to decorate picture frames, windows and bannisters as you won't need to plug them in anywhere. 

Battery powered LEDs are usually available in an array of colours and have become incredibly popular in recent years. They offer an alternative to plug-in lighting and give you more freedom to decorate whether you want. 

Tree lighting tips

Once you've selected your lights, it's time to learn how to put lights on a Christmas tree. Follow these tips to help you achieve the look you want.

Check your lights

First, make sure your light strings are working correctly. It's important to give the string a thorough visual inspection. You're looking for any visible wires, burn marks or other signs of electrical issues. If you’ve bought brand new lighting and notice any damage, get in contact with us. We offer a 1-year guarantee on all of our tree lights and are here to help if you experience any difficulty with your lights. It’s best to throw away any old and damaged lighting – they're not repairable and can pose a significant fire danger.

After you've checked for visual signs of damage and before putting lights on the tree, plug the string into the wall and check the bulbs. Replace any damaged ones as necessary.

Many strings are wired in a series, especially smaller lights such as clusters. If one light is no good, the rest in the string could fail to light, even if they have working bulbs. Fortunately, fixing the situation is easy. All you need to do is call up our customer service to request a replacement.

Start at the bottom

When stringing your tree, you want to focus on two elements:

  • Hiding the plug and wires as much as possible
  • Adding depth of illumination to your tree

Start by wrapping your lights around the lower branches and then working your way up. String them in an up-and-down weaving pattern. A star or other large ornament can help hide the end of the string at the top of the tree.

To add depth, position lights closer to the tree's trunk and then spiral outward to the tips of the branches. It's often a great look if you have a large or bushy Christmas tree.

The power of squinting

Alright, this tip can seem a little weird, but we promise it works! After stringing the tree, turn on the lights. Take a few steps back so you can see the entire tree. Then, squint your eyes.

Squinting makes it easy to see any spots on the tree with too few or too many lights. You can make adjustments as necessary until the lights cover the tree evenly.

Safety tips

It's essential to make sure everybody in the house knows how to stay safe when it comes to Christmas lights. Some safety tips to follow include:

  • Appropriate safety certification – Look for the British Standards Kitemark and the European Standards Symbol (CE). Only buy new lights from an online retailer such as ourselves. Never buy them second-hand.
  • Watch for tripping hazards – Make sure all strings are visible and out of the way. At the same time, you shouldn't run cables or extension cords under rugs because hidden damage can occur.
  • Don't mix strings – You can use LED and incandescent lights on the same tree, but don't connect the different strings together. Incandescents draw more current than the LED can safely handle.
  • Don't leave lights unattended - Never leave your lights on unattended. Turn them off when you leave the house and when you go to bed at night. For the safest option, unplug them from the wall entirely. 

Decorate your tree with lights in time for Christmas 

The right lights add a welcome dose of Christmas cheer to any home. You have many options to consider when selecting Christmas lights, but it always depends on what final look you're going for. Always consider the type and size of the lights and how well they'll fit on your tree. For more help, use our Christmas tree decoration calculator to discover the perfect amount of baubles and lights for your tree.

Browse our Christmas tree shop to look through our range of artificial unlit Christmas trees and lighting. If you don't want to string lighting up this year, our pre-lit Christmas trees are a perfect choice!