Saturday, December 5, 2015

20 Tips for Putting Christmas Lights on your Tree

We went out and chose our family Christmas tree tonight.  The worst part about having a real tree is stringing the lights; watering it every day is a close second.  Every year while I'm stringing the lights I think that I should share a few of my tips with my friends who also have real Christmas trees.  So this year is the year!  The best part is that it only took me about 30 minutes.

Warning to Parents:  If for some reason you give into buying colored lights (when you really only like white lights), either in weak moment with your children or because you waited until AFTER Thanksgiving to purchase new Christmas lights and colored lights are all that's left (or both), they will come back to haunt you year, after blessed year.  Just saying.

20 Things you should know before you put lights on your Christmas tree. #TisTheSeason

20 Things you should know before you put lights on your Christmas tree. #TisTheSeason
1. Choose the Perfect Tree. Pose in front of it with your family and ask the rustic tree lot owner to take your picture.  Make it a tradition and if you're lucky everyone will be facing the camera.  (Hint: there's no perfect tree, go for a cheap one that is mostly even and doesn't have too many dead spots.)  We usually choose a Blue Spruce; aesthetically pleasing, smells nice, has sturdy branches and is pretty affordable.
2. Level the Tree.  This is a two person job. Use a sturdy stand {like this one} and while one person holds the tree as upright and balanced as possible, have the other twist in the screws.

20 Things you should know before you put lights on your Christmas tree. #TisTheSeason
3. Put tree on Water Resistant Rug - Save your flooring because your tree is sure to be over watered once or twice and that little drip edge on the tree stand isn't going to give you much grace.  Don't worry if it's ugly, you'll cover it later with a tree skirt.

20 Things you should know before you put lights on your Christmas tree. #TisTheSeason
4.Check the Lights.  You should probably do this before you get the tree, or at least before the store closes.  If you don't check the lights, you'll surely have troubles.  If you're the fix-it type, you should try {one of these} handy little fix-it guns - they do amazing things to strings of lights!

20 Things you should know before you put lights on your Christmas tree. #TisTheSeason
5. Wear Gloves.  Get out your favorite pair of haying gloves, those branches are pokey!  If you don't happen to have haying gloves - consider a pair of nice soft leather gloves {women's} {men's}.
6. Wear Long Sleeves. Unless you want itchy-scratchy skin, wear a long sleeve shirt - choose an old one in case you find some sap.
7. Wait Until the Kids are in Bed.  I started this when our first son was a toddler, I didn't want him getting the idea it was okay to touch the tree so I always watered and decorated it while he was sleeping.  Now our kids are a little older and they get to help decorate, but I still find it easier to put the lights on while they are sleeping.
8. Play Christmas Music.  Putting lights on the tree is the worst part of it all; put yourself in the mood with a little holiday cheer.
9. Spread the Lights Out.  I like to spread the lights out in the living room so I can easily see how many I have left in order to better judge how close to put the lights.  I used 450 total lights on this tree.
20 Things you should know before you put lights on your Christmas tree. #TisTheSeason
10. Start in the Back near the Bottom.  Start in a less conspicuous area to get your rhythm.  Work in sections around the bottom 2/3 of the tree.
20 Things you should know before you put lights on your Christmas tree. #TisTheSeason
11. Wrap the Branches in a Squiggly Pattern.  Please, please don't wrap those lights around and around the tree!!!  That's a dizzying mess!  Form a squiggly serpentine type pattern.  I like to wrap the bottom 2/3 of the tree first and to the top 1/3 of the tree last.  If you do a random pattern you'll get better random, more even light distribution.
12.  Keep even Depth.  I usually wrap the lights about 4-5 inches in from the end of the branch.
13.  Hide the Plugs.  When you come to a plug in the lights, just hide it near the trunk of the tree.  I like to trim off the tags to make them less visible.
14. Decorate the Whole Tree.  You should put lights all the way around your tree, even if it's in a corner.
15. Tuck the Plug in the Back.  When you get to the end of your lights and the tree is completely lit, you should be at the top of the tree; tuck the plug end in near the trunk in the back of the tree so you know where to find it back later.  This little tip will also come in handy if you have a light up tree topper - no need to run an extra cord!
20 Things you should know before you put lights on your Christmas tree. #TisTheSeason

16. Write the Bulb Count on the Strand.  In the unfortunate (and likely) event that you have to replace a strand of lights, it would be nice to know how many bulbs are on the strand without having to count them all.  I recommend writing the bulb count number on the plug of every new strand of lights with a Sharpie.
17. Hang the Glass Balls Evenly.  I intend to let my little ones lavish this tree with all of our family ornaments, but I still want a little control of where the glass balls get placed so I'm putting them on at the same time as the lights.  This is a win-win for me; the balls are evenly placed and I won't have preschoolers handling my glass ornaments. This year I used about 30 red glass balls.
20 Things you should know before you put lights on your Christmas tree. #TisTheSeason

18. Secure your Glass Balls to the Hanger.  If these ornaments fall from the tree they usually shatter.  I've seen on or two that bounce once, then shatter, but the almost always break.  Bend the metal ornament hanger around the ornament so that if the tree gets bumped, they don't all fall and break.
19. Water It.  While stringing lights on the tree is not always my favorite task, at least once it's done, it's done.  Watering the tree, is a whole different story.  I suggest setting an alarm on your cell phone to help you remember.
20. Removing the Lights.  A couple things here: take all the ornaments off, haul the tree (lights and all) OUTSIDE!  This will help keep most of the needle mess outside.  Find the end of the strand that is near the TOP of the tree (in the back).  Start by taking the last lights to go on the tree off first and work your way down.

There you have it - an evenly lit tree!  With glass balls perfectly spaced.  Now you just need to wait for the children to wake up extra early the next morning (because they always do on Saturday).  Have them pile as many ornaments on the bottom 1/3 of your perfect little tree as possible, mainly in the front.  Two or three ornaments on each branch is best!

Christmas Blessings Everyone!

20 Things you should know before you put lights on your Christmas tree. #TisTheSeason


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