By Christmas Lights, Etc. | DIY Team
The guide below will help you determine how many lights are recommended for wrapping both outdoor and indoor Christmas trees as well as the most popular light types for each. Scroll through this page or click on the relevant link below to be taken to the section that best suits your needs.
How Many Lights for Wrapping Outdoor Trees?
When wrapping trees with Christmas lights, there are some basic measurements that you need to take into consideration. Measure the circumference of the tree trunk, as well as the circumference and count of any branches you wish to wrap with lights. Determine how much spacing you want both between each light bulb on the string, as well as how far apart you plan to wrap the light strings. A 6" bulb spacing is popular for wrapping trunks and branches, with an average spacing of 2-3" between strings. Divide height by desired string spacing, multiply total by circumference to calculate total string length needed.
Example: we have a 4'H trunk that measures 2' in circumference, and we plan to wrap four of the stronger branches, which measure 3'L and 6" in circumference. Use this equation to learn how to wrap a tree with lights:
View our Tree Wrapping Guide for step by step instructions.
Wrapping Outdoor Trees with Christmas Lights Quick Reference
No time for calculations? Use the quick reference chart below for a rough estimate of how many Christmas lights you might need to wrap your outdoor trees! Depending on how tightly you wrap your trees with lights and the space you leave between each of the wraps, you may need more or less than what we have listed here. It's always better to have too much than not enough, so if you're unsure, plan to have a few extra strings on hand just in case. If you want to be really certain, you can use the light calculation in the section above for a more exact estimate of lights needed for wrapping trees!
Bulb Spacing for Outdoor Trees
Different tree types require varying degrees of spacing between bulbs. Use the guidelines below when selecting your bulb spacing for wrapping outdoor trees.
Evergreen trees are thick and generally need additional string length to ensure complete coverage. 6" bulb spacing is ideal. Consider using C7 and C9 bulbs.
Deciduous trees shed leaves, requiring fewer lights if simply draping and more if wrapping trunks and branches. 8" spacing is ideal.
Trunks and branches require higher light counts. Learn more through our dedicated resource page for Wrapping Outdoor Trees with Lights. For heavier lighting, 4-5 light strings should cover trunks and main branches. Many trunks can be wrapped with 1-2.
Bushes and hedges - light counts remain standard, however many people choose to use net lights for quick and even coverage. When using light strings, choose random light patterns as opposed to uniform for best effect.
How Many Lights for Christmas Trees?
Plan for a minimum of 100 lights per vertical foot when wrapping indoor Christmas trees & consider purchasing a few extra light strings to ensure you have complete coverage. Any light strings not used can serve as backups in the future should you need an extra string or two.
While wrapping indoor Christmas trees, try to keep the light wires as concealed as possible for a clean look. Wrapping branches from the tree interior out as opposed to circling the outside edge of the tree with lights will result in more beautiful and even light distribution.
Most popular: 4" bulb spacing to allow for maximum lighting with minimal wire
If wrapping branches: 6" or 8" spacing is recommended to allow space for wire to wrap tightly around each branch
When stringing lights: start from the top of the tree and work your way to the bottom. The female end of the plug can be connected to the tree topper.
Popular Lights for Wrapping Indoor & Outdoor Trees
Mini lights: a popular tree light for indoor and outdoor use, especially among vintage Christmas light enthusiasts.
T5 LED Mini Lights: T5 mini lights are especially popular for decorators with vintage Christmas tree displays as they look almost identical to traditional incandescent Christmas tree lights but with all the benefits of LED technology!
5mm LED lights: the preferred LED bulb size for wrapping outdoor trees with lights. The concave lens design of a wide angle LED bulb produces a much brighter halo of light than that found in an incandescent mini light. The result of this difference in design is less bulbs required per foot when using 5mm LED mini lights.
C7 bulbs: popular among Christmas enthusiasts for their retro appearance and timeless design. Because they are larger in size and light output, far less C7 bulbs are required for tree lighting than mini lights.
C9 bulbs: intended for overly dense or large outdoor trees. The largest of the recommended types of lights for trees, C9 bulbs are often reserved for outdoor trees 15' and above as they produce a high impact light display that may be overwhelming when used on smaller tree varieties.