How Many Christmas Lights for Christmas Trees?

Christmas tree

The holiday season is upon us, and with it come decorative snowmen, a lush wreath on the front door, and of course, O’ Tannenbaum. While decorating your Christmas tree is a fun, family-oriented affair, ensuring your evergreen has the right amount of lights on it to put off that special glow can be a bit tricky: too dim and you can’t display your skillful ornament placement, too bright and you could induce a few seizures. So what’s the right amount of lights for your tree?


A gathering of Carol Singers in front of the Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square, London England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Up until about five minutes ago, I subscribed to the “there’s no such thing as too many lights on a Christmas tree” theory. Well, that may not necessarily be the case.
There are many factors that go into properly lighting your tree, such as the height, diameter, type of tree, and even the type of Christmas lights. While there is no “right” amount of lights to use on your tree, the tips below merely serve as a guide to point you in the right direction, and you should use the amount and type of lights that fit your preferences.

Tree Size: Let’s start with the size of your tree. Clearly, the vertical height of your tree determines how many lights you’ll need. If you’re leaning more toward a conservative lighting approach, then use 100 mini lights per vertical foot. If you’re going for a brighter look, try using 200 mini lights per vertical foot. Keep in mind you won’t need to use as many lights for trees that are on the skinny side, but you may need up to 25 percent more lights for your thicker trees, like Spruces, Pines, and Firs. For example: for a standard 6-foot tree, you’re looking at 600 mini lights, while an 8-foot Alaskan Fir may need 1,000 mini lights. And for those of you with a 20-foot tree, be prepared to use 2,000 mini lights. Again, the above figures reflect a “medium” lighting approach.

Bulb Type: The types of light strings you use to decorate your tree plays an important role in determining the number of lights you’ll need to bring holiday cheer to your living room. Still use incandescent mini light strings? That’s cool. So do I. As stated above, for incandescent mini lights, it’s recommended to use 100 lights per vertical foot of your tree. For those of you that have made the switch to LED mini lights, not only will you need fewer lights to achieve the desired brightness, since they’re brighter than incandescents, but you’ll also be saving money. With that in mind, you’ll only need 50 lights per vertical foot of your tree while using LEDs. Looking to achieve that classic look akin to A Christmas Story or Christmas Vacation by using C7 or C9 lights? Go for it. As with the LEDs, you’ll need far less of the C7 or C9 bulbs, as these too are brighter than their incandescent counterparts.

The chart below illustrates the recommended number of lights based on your tree’s height, types of bulbs, and whether it’s an indoor or outdoor tree.  Also, 1000Bulbs.com has created an excellent resource page with tips ranging from decorating your tree, roof, and even Christmas light maintenance.

Christmas Light Chart

Give us a shout on Google Plus, Twitter, or Facebook and tell us how many bulbs you use to decorate your Christmas tree and what your favorite types of Christmas lights are!

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Jordan Loa

Jordan is a copywriter at 1000Bulbs.com. Check back often for new entries in his "Light Post" series of happenings in the world of lighting.

  • Erika newton

    Love it! That so true, you can definitely overdue it with the lights. The tree resembles a beacon instead of a pleasant traditional Christmas tree. Thanks for the advice!

    • Jordan Loa

      Thanks for the comment, Erika, and we’re glad you enjoyed it! Feel free to browse the blog for other helpful hints and tricks! I recommend reading last week’s article about how switching to LED Christmas lights can save you money! Thanks again!

  • clark griswold

    I just put 5000 lights on a 4 foot tree, it looks great!

    • http://www.1000bulbs.com Will Parsons

      That’s great! If you feel like sharing, we’d love to see it.