How Many Lights You Need For Your Christmas Tree

There's a formula to figure out how many feet of lights you need for 7 foot Christmas tree -- or any size tree.

You’re ready to decorate your Christmas tree and create a luminous masterpiece, but how many feet of lights does your 7-foot tree need to achieve the magical glow in your mind’s eye? The answer isn’t as simple as you might think!

In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know in order to perfectly illuminate your Christmas tree. From understanding the basics to calculating the exact number of lights you need, I’ll cover all the bases needed to ensure your tree shines as brightly as your holiday spirit.

One more quick note: I’ll be using a 7-foot tree as the primary example throughout this post, but rest assured that these tips can be applied to Christmas trees of any height. But those trees aren’t going to festoon themselves, so let’s get started!

You'll need extra Christmas tree lights if you need to illuminate your tree topper as well.

Christmas Tree Lighting Basics

Before we delve into the specifics of how many feet of lights you’ll need for your 7-foot Christmas tree, let’s start with the basics: why is it important to calculate the number of lights (or feet of string lights) you’ll put on your tree? There are a few different reasons, including:

  1. Aesthetic Appeal: The amount of lights you use can have a significant impact on your tree’s visual appeal. Too few, and your tree may appear lackluster; too many, and it may look more overwhelming than awe-inspiring! Achieving the perfect balance will ensure your tree generates the magical atmosphere you’re looking for.
  2. Safety: While we all love a festive glow, it’s important to consider safety when it comes to your tree decorations. When you determine how many lights you need, the answer should be an amount that won’t overload your electrical circuits or pose a fire hazard.
  3. Cost: Knowing how many feet of Christmas lights to buy can help you avoid buying more than you need. This will not only save you money, but also avoid unnecessary waste and the hassle of dealing with more wires and bulbs.

Using the tips in this post to calculate an ideal number of lights ahead of time will help you strike the right balance between aesthetics, safety, and cost-efficiency. Next, we’ll explore several factors that can influence the number of lights you’ll need for your 7-foot tree.

The kind of lights you use influence how many feet of lights you need for a Christmas tree.

Types Of Christmas Lights & Other Factors To Consider

When it comes to Christmas tree lighting, the standard guideline is to use about 100 lights per vertical foot of tree. So for a 7-foot tree, 700 lights would be a solid starting point, but the ideal number will vary.

Here are some factors that may affect how many feet of lights your 7-foot tree needs:

  1. Light Size And Type: There are many types of Christmas lights that come in a variety of sizes, and both factors can affect the number you need. Mini lights are smaller and can be packed more densely, whereas LED lights or incandescent lights with larger bulbs may require fewer lights for the same visual impact.
  2. Personal Preferences: Your personal taste and the look you want to achieve also influence the number of lights. Some people prefer a subtle glow, while others want a brilliant tree adorned with numerous lights. Consider the ambiance you’re shooting for and adjust the number of light strings accordingly.
  3. Quality Of Illumination: Do you want a soft, yellow glow or a dazzling, multicolored display? Different types of lights, such as warm, cool, multicolored, and color-changing lights all have different visual impacts, and may affect the overall amount of lights your tree needs.
  4. Light Spacing: How much space will there be between the individual bulbs? Light strands with bulbs spaced more closely can provide brighter illumination across fewer strands when compared to lights with wider spacing.
  5. Branch Density: Whether real or artificial, every tree has its own number and density of branches, and that can play a major role in how many lights you’ll need. A fuller tree may need more lights to get the level of illumination you want, while sparse trees may need fewer lights to shine brightly.
  6. Decorations: Don’t forget to factor ornaments and other tree decorations into your lighting decisions. Heavily decorated trees may not need as many lights, as other decorations will contribute to the overall look and appeal.
  7. Technique: How you wrap the lights around the tree can make a difference — for instance, an evenly spaced wrapping technique might require fewer lights than throwing them on haphazardly. Also, if you’re planning to layer lights of different size, color, or shape, that will affect your final number as well.
  8. Safety Considerations: A nice-looking tree is great, but safety should be your top priority! It’s important to choose the right amount and type of lights (i.e. lights rated for indoor trees, not outdoor trees) to avoid overloading your electrical outlets or circuits.
The color of lights you use also influences how many feet of lights you need for your Christmas tree.

How To Calculate How Many Christmas Lights You Need For Your Tree

Now that you understand the factors that influence the number of lights needed for your 7-foot Christmas tree, let’s get down to business and calculate the actual number. While it’s tempting to stick with the general guideline of 100 lights for every vertical foot, these steps will help you determine your ideal number of lights.

  1. Measure Your Tree: First, measure the height of your tree, starting at the floor and ending at its highest point.
  2. Decide On Density: Next, decide whether you want your tree to have a more subtle or radiant glow. For less dense lighting, aim for 70-80 lights for every vertical foot. For a brighter display, consider using 100-120 lights per foot.
  3. Use This Formula: Time to break out your calculator! To determine the number of lights you need, multiply the height of your tree (in feet) by your desired light density (lights per vertical foot). For example:
    • For a subtle glow: 7 feet x 70 lights/foot = 490 lights
    • For a radiant glow: 7 feet x 100 lights/foot = 700 lights
  4. Make Adjustments: At this point, you may want to make some adjustments to that figure based on your tree’s unique characteristics. If your tree has a lot of branches, you may want to increase your number of lights to ensure even coverage.
  5. Don’t Forget The Top: If your tree features a topper, account for the lights you’ll need to illuminate the top of the tree, too.
Putting some white lights near the center of your tree helps give it a glow.

BONUS: Installation & Decoration Tips

With the question of “how many lights do you need” now satisfactorily answered, you’re ready to decorate your tree with lights and other Christmas tree decorations! Here are some tips that can help with the installation stage:

  1. Inspect Your Lights: Before you start, carefully examine your lights for any damaged cords or broken bulbs. Replace any faulty strings to ensure safety.
  2. Start At The Base: Begin wrapping the lights at the base of the tree and work your way up. This provides a solid foundation for even distribution, and allows you to position the plug near the base for easy access.
  3. Wrap In A Spiral: Use a systematic approach when wrapping the lights, working in a spiral from the bottom to the top. Try to ensure that the wires are spaced evenly and the bulbs face out for a nice, balanced look.
  4. Test As You Go: As you work your way up the tree, plug in the lights periodically to check for darks spots, and to ensure that you’re getting the coverage you want.
  5. Secure the Lights: Once you’ve finished wrapping, secure the lights with tree clips or by tucking them into the branches. This well prevent them from sagging or falling so your tree looks sleek and streamlined.
  6. Layer Your Lighting: For a dynamic look, consider layering different types of lights. Warm white lights can add a cozy, ambient glow, while a few strands of multicolored lights can add a fun pop of color.
  7. Add A Timer: No need to endure the hassle of turning your tree lights on and off every day! Conserve energy and invest in a timer that will automatically activate during the hours of your choosing.
Once you've got the lights on your tree it's time to put the rest of the Christmas ornaments on!

The Takeaway

From the importance of the right number of lights to carefully considering the various factors that make a difference, we’ve covered everything you need to know in order to turn your Christmas tree into a holiday masterpiece. Your festively lit tree is sure to be the envy of the neighborhood, and you’ll feel confident that you’ve decorated it safely and economically. After all, it’s not just about the number of lights on the tree; it’s about the magical atmosphere they create!

What kind of lights do you use to decorate your tree?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee