Christmas tree lights: they’re the final touch that adds the mood and warmth that you dreamed of for your holiday centerpiece. Between white, multicolored, incandescent, and LED lights, you can set any mood you want to with lights nowadays. Some can be hung outdoors, or have lots of dimming and flashing options, others can be controlled with a remote, and some even can change color as you like!
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This may mean that you need to purchase more than one set of lights, so pay close attention to how many lights are on the strand and how far they’re spaced apart.
Large incandescent bulbs may be designated C5, C7, C9, G40 or G50. The letters refer to their shape; C is for "cone" and G for "globe." The numbers indicate diameter, with larger numbers being bigger. LEDs use similar numbering systems, with the addition of M (for "mini").
LED lights, even though they come in different shapes, all have the same basic light-emitting diode inside their plastic "bulb." So their brightness can be affected by the shape of their plastic housing.
A 5MM LED is short and squat, so the LED inside it will shine equally in all directions, except where the base attaches. For this reason, they've become increasingly popular.
5M bulbs mimic the traditional elongated shape of small incandescent Christmas lights. This makes them stand up away from the branch better and could be a good choice if you prefer a tree with long needles.
LED bulbs use less energy than incandescent bulbs, so they could save you money on your electric bill. They also stay cool to the touch, thereby posing less of a fire risk. For all these reasons, they're a good choice for those who leave their Christmas lights lit for long periods of time.
The part that covers the diodes is plastic, so the "bulb" won't break easily. Also, the diodes themselves have a very long lifespan. However, if something goes wrong, like faulty wiring, you can't replace individual lights; you'll probably have to throw out the whole strand or deal with some of them being unlit.
They can get hot - especially the larger ones - so it's not a good idea to leave them on unattended, and don't let your live tree dry out; although you shouldn't do that anyway.
It's best to go for lights that are certified by Underwriters Laboratories. UL certification means a manufacturer has proven that their product meets safety standards set out by the organization.
If you plan to link a lot of strands together, especially if you're using incandescents, you should check guidelines to make sure you won't exceed the recommended safe wattage. Another concern is waterproof or weatherproof lights for outdoor use. These should have a special cover that seals the exposed plugs and connectors.
Some strands come with LEDs that can change color, so the entire strand can change manually or on a programmed cycle. You can also find lights with different effects, such as flashing or dimming in various patterns. Some can even be set up to flash in time to music!
Some lights can be controlled with a remote, so you can change the color or flashing pattern and turn them on and off without crawling around to find a switch under the tree or unplugging them. Some of these use a phone app instead of a traditional remote control. Others have a timer setting, which is useful if you're afraid you'll forget to turn them off.
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Color Changing Christmas Lights
Best if You Can't Decide Between White and Colorful
UL Certified Christmas String Lights
Best Incandescent Lights in a Range of Colors
Christmas Fairy String Lights
Best for an Elegant and Traditional Look
Clear Christmas Lights
Best Bulbs for Sparkle in the Daytime and After Dark
Upgrade C3 Christmas Lights
Best Multicolored Lights for Large Trees
50 LED Battery Operated String Lights
Best Battery-Operated Christmas Lights
Silver Wire Christmas String Lights
Best to Control With a Remote
Battery Powered Fairy String Lights
Best Non-Traditional Shape for Christmas Tree Lights
200 LED 82 Feet Indoor String Lights
Best Brightly-Colored Bulbs for a Retro Look
108 Feet 300 LED Christmas String Lights
Best for Outdoor or Big Indoor Trees
Brizled's lights come with 11 lighting modes and can be set to white or multicolor. It also has three timer modes and a memory function so you don't need to constantly be adjusting the lights to your usual settings.
Reviewers warn that most settings cause the lights to blink and flash quickly, and find them too busy. Others like the colors of the lights and how versatile they are, with so many functions and settings.
This two-pack of string lights is suited for both indoor and outdoor use, using UL-listed incandescent light bulbs. They can be attached together to make a longer strand and have 10 different color options like frosted white, multi, or even red, white and blue!
On the whole, most reviewers like how the lights aren't glaring, are a good color, and create a great atmosphere, especially when used outdoors.
If you want a vintage or European look to your tree, these safe replacements for real candles certainly look the part. Available in red or white, they have clips that allow you to secure them to branches so they stand up.
Reviewers mention it can be fiddly getting them to look right; not only adjusting the clips, but also hiding the cords. Some wish there was more space from candle to candle so the cords could be tucked back. But most reviewers figured out a way to make these look great on their indoor tree, and said they get a lot of compliments on them.
There's no holiday that wants for glitter and glitz more than Christmas. These LED lights have pearlescent glass bulbs, making them look like shiny ornaments when they're not lit up. They also come in red, white and green cone or flame shapes.
Reviewers point out that the glass is thin and must be handled carefully. They say they're best for indoor use, even though they are waterproof. However, buyers love the three different bulb colors and the rare globe shape, saying the size is just right.
These strawberry-shaped lights are five different colors. Since the bulbs are large, they won't get lost outdoors or on larger Christmas trees. They are waterproof and you can connect up to 42 strands together, so if you have a particularly large tree outside that you want to decorate, you can do it with these lights.
Some reviewers said their longevity wasn't what they expected, but they all enjoyed their vibrant color, especially the violet shade.
These lights are a great option for those who don’t have access to an electrical outlet or prefer using batteries over plugs. Each set comes with a timer setting that stays on continuously for six hours. You can set the lights to one of eight different modes for dynamic decoration.
These silver-wired lights may be small, but they give off a bright glow that can set a very traditional holiday mood. Since the 99-foot strand has 300 bulbs, you’d only need a couple of sets to cover a six-foot tree. You use a remote to turn on and off the lights, adjust brightness, and switch from various lighting modes.
Some reviewers experience issues with the controller not working or half the strand not lighting up. However, the majority of reviewers say these lights shine bright, wrap easily, and look beautiful, even with the lights off.
Looking for a unique shape for your tree lights? These five-pointed stars come in warm or cool white, multicolor, or blue. They look big in the photos, but are only about the size of a quarter, so keep that in mind when planning how to display them; they'll probably just look like regularly shaped lights from a distance.
Some reviewers do mention disappointment with their construction and how quickly they broke. But those are outweighed by many more positive comments, and people even use them year-round as home decor.
These big, old-school incandescent bulbs are opaque, so they have a bright, cheery look even during the day when not lit. The white, red, blue, green, and orange combo is a classic that's sure to bring back memories for many. As C9 bulbs, they are not only big, but get quite warm, so they may be better suited to outdoor trees.
Some reviewers recommend trying the smaller C7 size for indoor trees, but many use the C9s indoors. They say the heat from the bulbs makes their tree smell great! These are also popular for Stranger Things-themed parties.
Each strand of Amy Homie’s Christmas string lights comes with 300 LED bulbs. Along with having end-to-end plugs to string multiple strands together, the lights have at least eight different flash settings like twinkle, fade, and sequential. They’re also waterproof, so they can be used for indoor or outdoor trees.
If this is your first time stringing a Christmas tree, you may be wondering if there's a "best" method. Well, there really isn't; if you've always done it a certain way, that's fine. But if you're struggling with it, try one of these techniques.
The Vertical Method: starting at the top with the end of the strand, drape the lights down the tree. At the bottom, loop the strand back up. Keep going until you reach the plugged-in end. This way is quick to string up and take down. Lights will be closer to the tips of the branches, so they'll be more visible, but you can hide the cords with ornaments.
The Horizontal Method: start at the top or bottom, and go around the tree. You can tuck some lights deeper into the tree, so this technique can allow for more depth. But it's more time-consuming to put lights up and take them down.
If your tree is against a wall or in a corner, you can avoid going around the whole thing, which makes it much easier to hang and take down the strands.
The Wave Method: from the top, drape lights in waves going horizontally, moving down and in the other direction after reaching the back of the tree. It's easy to end up with the plug near the outlet because you can judge how much strand you have left and adjust.
The zigzag method from the bottom is similar. This way, you can more easily judge how the tree will look overall as you go along. String the lights up and down in sections going up the tree, without wrapping the strands all the way around.
There are a million ways to make your Christmas even more of a festive affair. Check out these other articles to get into the holiday spirit!
Need some more lights to complete your decorating? Try seeing what Amazon buyers have chosen for their holiday displays.
No. 1: Brizled｜Color Changing Christmas Lights
No. 2: Yuletime｜UL Certified Christmas String Lights
No. 3: Lights4fun, Inc.｜Christmas Fairy String Lights
No. 4: BoHon｜Clear Christmas Lights
No. 5: VanRayal｜Upgrade C3 Christmas Lights
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