The tradition of decorating a Christmas tree is said to have its origins in Germany over 350 years ago. Nearly 200 hundred years later, people began adding candles to light the trees and faced the challenge of how to attach the candles without setting the house on fire. Once electric Christmas lights on a string became available, lighting a Christmas tree became not so risky.

Today, decorating the Christmas tree with Christmas lights is a tradition in many households, municipalities, and other types of organizations and venues. Trees like the Rockefeller Center tree are painstaking decorated by professionals and set the standard for magical and beautifully lit trees.

So how do you recreate that magic at home with your indoor tree and Christmas lights? There are a variety of suggested approaches for decorating a tree including working vertically or horizontally, or even dividing your tree into two or three triangle shapes to set the guideline for weaving the lights. However, if you want to decorate your tree the way the professionals do it, you’ll want to wrap each branch.

What you’ll need:

  • A Christmas tree - fresh or artificial
  • A minimum of 100 lights per foot height of tree. This is a general rule. So for a 7 foot tree, you’ll need a minimum of 700 lights, but you may find that you need as many as 850 depending on the fullness of the tree and how you wrap the branch.
  • A power strip
  • An electrical cord with multiple sockets (Green is more easily hidden in the tree, but brown could work too depending on the color of the pole or “trunk” of the tree.
  • Scissors and Cable ties (where necessary)
  • A step stool or ladder

To begin, plug in the Christmas lights before you string them to make sure they are all working. It’s easier to address a problem before they are wrapped around the branches. Secure the extension cord to the center of your tree near the trunk or pole and work the cord itself down to floor where you will plug it into the power strip. The power strip is how you will turn the tree on and off since the light strands themselves will be plugged into the extension cord sockets. You may use cable ties here to secure the extension cord. Another option is to use a long power strip in the middle of the tree rather than a multi-socket extension cord, but it may be too visible depending on the fullness of the tree or color of the power strip.

From the extension cord socket at the middle of the tree, plug in a strand of lights and weave it from the trunk to the tip of the branch and back until you reach the end of the strand. Attach another strand into the first strand of lights and continue. Keep in mind that you should never plug more than 3 strands of lights together for safety reasons.

By wrapping each branch, you’ll make the wires less noticeable and make the tree brighter than if you use the lasso method to wrap the Christmas lights around the tree. You’ll spend more time in the effort, but the end result will be worth it