How To Wrap a Tree With Christmas Lights

Posted by Doug Topham on 9/6/2017 to Installing Christmas Lighting
How To Wrap a Tree With Christmas Lights

I own and operate the largest holiday decorating company in Arizona and one of the largest Christmas Light Decorating companies in the United States, Christmas Light Decorators. 

We currently install holiday lights in trees for municipalities, shopping centers, churches and until recently even a few homes.  In 2016 we lit or decorated over 350 commercial properties in the western United States.  Most of these include holiday tree lighting.

We’ve been in business since 1989 and we know Christmas, and needless to say we are the experts in our field and can help you with learning all you need to know about wrapping a tree with Christmas lights and doing it well.

If you are looking for the abbreviated version of how to light a tree with Christmas lights well, here is a video that we produced to show how we, as professional decorators, wrap trees with Christmas lights to make them look their best (staring one of our own professional decorating supervisor staff). 

We use it for training purposes in our company and it can help you learn the things you need to know to decorate a tree with Christmas lights for a perfect look every time.  The video is actually so good, that some of our competitors have also used it to train their crews!

Regardless of the type of tree you are trying to light for the holidays, all trees are basically the same and a few principles apply regardless of the style of tree.

Some General Guidelines:

  1. Choose the style and color of your Christmas lights carefully.  The most popular color is warm white, followed by cool white LED lights. We recommend using mini Christmas lights to wrap trees because of their ease to work with, anything bigger and it will become a bulky burden to deal with as you try to install. We do not recommend wrapping trees in rope light EVER! It is very hard to work with to wrap branches, secure in place, and it looks terrible if not installed properly. Stick with LED mini lights (ours come pre-balled for easy installations) and you will be a lot happier with the outcome.    
  2. Use good quality mini Christmas lights.  Lights are much cheaper than your time trying to repair so spend the few extra dollars and get good Christmas lights.  The Christmas lights should have at least 24 gauge wires.  Our mini lights are 22 AWG.  (In wire, the smaller the number, the thicker the wire).  So ours are better than the minimum and this will affect the quality of the light and how it holds up year to year.  If using LED Christmas lights, you can plug at least 35 strands (of 50 lights per strand) end to end. (This assumes you have the thicker 22 gage wire).  This is why I cannot stress enough getting good commercial grade Christmas lights here. If using incandescent mini light strands, only use 3 - 100 bulb strands in a row or approximately 150 watts. 
  3. Usually, you will start wrapping the Christmas lights on a tree at the power source towards the base of the tree.  If your power source is at ground level, start at the base of the tree.  If your power source is near the top of the tree, start wrapping lights towards the top of the tree.  If your tree has many branches that you plan to wrap in Christmas lights, we recommend that you run an extension cord to the main fork in the tree and branch your Christmas lights off from there. One note, don’t put your 3 way outlet in a crevice, put it on the side of the tree where water will not accumulate when it snows or rains and cause GFI’s to pop. 
  4. As you wrap the tree with Christmas lights, the spacing between each wrap of lights should be approximately the same distance as the space between the mini light bulbs on the strand.  For example, we use 6-inch spacing on our mini lights so the space between wraps would be about 6 inches or approximately a hands width. Try to wrap the lights in the same direction on all the branches and the trunk and avoid crossing light strands when possible.  If you cross and later need to change out a strand because it has failed, a landscaper cut a strand, or vandalism occurred, you will have to unwrap any that cross over it to replace. So it is easier if you start by not crossing to begin with. 
  5. If you use staples to wrap your tree with Christmas lights, use them sparingly and avoid having the staples cut into the light strand. It will cause a short in the lights, and can become a fire hazard as well. Never cut a mini light strand to shorten it, you can only do this with certain styles of C7 or C9 Christmas lights (we sell C7 and C9 Christmas lights that can be cut anywhere along the strand).  If you have any strands with lights out, just discard them.  Led mini lights usually cannot be repaired so it is best to start with a fresh strand if lights go out.

Wrapping a tree with Christmas lights need not be difficult. Just take your time, use good quality Christmas lights, and wrap consistently for the best look possible. We’d love to see your projects with our lights so make sure you tag us in your social media with #commercialchristmasdecorations.

Happy decorating!

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