How to Set Up a Christmas Tree Like a Pro

Nov 16, 12 How to Set Up a Christmas Tree Like a Pro

You’ve set up your Christmas tree and gathered the family around, Clark Griswold-style. You plug in the lights and voilà!

A second goes by before you hear a collective groan. Your tree is so gnarled and lopsided it looks like it’s being slowly eaten away by moths. Half of the lights don’t work, and the other half only flicker. In short, your Christmas tree doesn’t look anything like the picture on the box.

Professional interior designers know setting up an artificial Christmas tree isn’t as easy as it looks. They know just how to adjust, test, and tweak until a Christmas tree looks bright and full, virtually oozing holiday cheer. Fortunately, you can do the same. Use these 4 professional tips for a problem-free tree this year!

Tip #1: Set Up the Stand the Right Way

First, set up your tree stand. Though this may not require the touch of an interior designer, it is literally the foundation to everything that comes after.

For two-piece steel or plastic stands, simply slide the two pieces together and apply slight pressure to the center hub until it clicks. For one-piece fold-up stands, open the legs to their locking position and tighten the bottom thumbscrew to secure. If you have a one-piece stand, no assembly is required.

If your stand is wobbly or flimsy, throw it away and get a real Christmas tree stand made with sturdy materials, superior craftsmanship, and wheels to make the tree easier to move and store.

Christmas Tree Bases

Christmas Tree Bases

Tip# 2: Assemble the Tree Once Piece at a Time

Second, assemble the tree, taking time to adjust and level as you do so. Patience is key.

Insert the bottom section of the tree into the stand. Secure the tree by tightening the thumbscrews and allow the hinged branches to fall into their natural, horizontal position.

If you have a multi-section tree, add the other sections, taking care to lubricate the pole ends for easy insertion and removal at the end of the holiday season.

Tip #3: Shape the Tree Like a Pro

There are two basic ways to shape a tree: The traditional “V” shape and the “upswept” shape.

For a traditional shape, separate all the small limbs from the main branch, then work from the trunk outward, moving one limb up and one limb down, forming a “V” shape. Also form a “V” with the second set of limbs, but instead of up and down, angle one to the left and one to the right.

For an upswept tree shape, simply angle the limbs outward and upward, as if wind were blowing from the bottom of the tree.

Christmas Tree Shaping

Traditional Shaping (Top) and Upswept Shaping (Bottom)

Tip #4: Test Lights and Apply them Section-by-Section

Unless you have a pre-lit Christmas tree, the next step is to add your Christmas lights. Before you start, however, plug in each set of lights to make sure they work. Test for burned out bulbs and partially dead strings with a light tester and avoid the hassle and embarrassment of having to redecorate your tree halfway through Christmas dinner.

Now start lighting the tree, but not all at once. Make sure your tree is evenly lighted by hanging lights section-by-section and making corrections as you go.

Share Your Ideas

For more Christmas tips and tricks, check out previous articles on how to buy a Christmas tree, how to select mini lights, and how to throw a non-traditional Christmas celebration. Share your own tips in the comments, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube, and Pinterest.

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Christmas Mini Lights Buying Guide

Nov 09, 12 Christmas Mini Lights Buying Guide

Walk into any big box store this holiday season and you’ll see two, maybe three, options for Christmas mini lights: Number of bulbs, bulb color, and if you’re lucky, wire color. After all, these are the only choices most people consider.

But “most” people aren’t informed buyers. Any informed buyer craves selection, and that’s why we offer literally hundreds of mini light choices at 1000Bulbs.com.

Of course, with so many choices available, we realize it can be frustrating to find just the right mini lights you need, so to make that process easier, here’s a quick guide to buying mini lights.

Bulb Spacing

Have you ever had to double or triple-wrap a Christmas tree with lights to make it bright enough? The typical set of mini lights has bulb spacing (the amount of wire between individual bulbs) of 12 inches. In almost all cases, that’s too far apart.

The maximum bulb spacing for a Christmas tree, gutter, or house trim should be 6 inches, not 12. To wrap an outdoor tree trunk, pole, or banister, tighter bulb spacing of 4 inches is better. For wreaths, garlands, and other objects with a small diameter, you may even want to go with 2.5 inch spacing.

Wire Gauge

Wire gauge isn’t just a topic for electricians. When it comes to mini lights, the thicker the wire, the longer it lasts and the more end-to-end connections you can make.

The standard wire gauge for mini lights is 22 AWG, but for especially long runs or harsh outdoor conditions, use a thicker wire gauge of 20 or even 18 AWG (the smaller the number, the thicker the gauge).

Lead and Tail Length

Lead length is the distance from the outlet (the male plug) to the first bulb in a set of mini lights. It is typically 3 to 6 inches, but many shorter “craft” lights have longer leads of 2 feet or more.

Longer leads are great for wall-mounted items like wreaths that are usually far away from a wall socket. Having a longer lead means you won’t have lights “floating in space” before they reach their destination.

Tail length is the other end of the string (the female plug) that connects to the next string in the series.

Connection Options

Mentioned earlier in the section on wire gauge, mini lights with a thicker wire gauge are able to handle more end-to-end connections. Though the exact number may vary, most 22 AWG 100 light sets are UL listed for up to three end-to-end (male to female) connections. A 20 AWG set of the same length may be rated for twice that—6 connections. Exceed that recommendation and the fuses within the light string will overload and burn out.

Interestingly, the recommendation for a 50 light set is usually the same. Why? For safety reasons, UL does not recommend more than three end-to-end connections for a 22 AWG string light of any length. If you plan a particularly long run, it is better to use a few 100 or 150 light stands than several shorter strands.

What Are Your Plans?

What are your Christmas lighting plans this year? Let us know what you have in store. Drop us a line in the comments below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus. If you have something especially interesting, we may even pin it on Pinterest!

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Have Yourself a Merry, Quirky Christmas

Nov 02, 12 Have Yourself a Merry, Quirky Christmas

It’s that time of year…again.

Are you tired of the same old clear, red, and multi-color string lights? Do you wish “O Tannenbaum” could be something other than a boring evergreen tree?

The holidays may be a time for tradition, but tradition doesn’t mean your holidays can’t have personality. From crazy-colored lights to odd Christmas trees and “themed” holiday celebrations, here are a few ideas to make this coming holiday truly your own.

 

Fun Christmas Light Colors

Pink Mini Lights

Pink Mini Lights

Mini lights come in colors as diverse as green, pink, and purple. LED wide angle lights and LED C6 lights come in similarly varied hues. You name the color, and chances are, you can find it at 1000Bulbs.com.

But where do you start? An easy idea is to pick your favorite color to decorate your home. Maybe you just happen to like the color pink, so why not dress up your tree in that color? Or perhaps green, purple, teal, or even a “festive” combination of colors best fit your fancy.

Themed Holiday Celebrations

Lighted Chili Pepper Wreath

Lighted Chili Pepper Wreath

Another idea is to go with a themed holiday. Create a vintage, candlelight-inspired look with amber mini lights and bubble lights. Use red, white, and blue lights to add a patriotic flair to your festivities. For an “Old West” theme, use cow skull or cowboy boot lights along with a lighted chili pepper ristra. You could also go with a sports theme—an option especially popular in man cave lighting. Pick lights in the color of your favorite football, basketball, or baseball team to show your dedication to your holiday guests.

Unique Christmas Trees

Artificial Palm Tree

Artificial Palm Tree

Artificial Christmas trees are available in enough fun colors and shapes to make your Douglas Fir or Spruce look just plain boring. For a splash of color, try a tinsel Christmas tree in bright blue or deep red or use a copper tinsel tree to complete your vintage look. Enhance your sports theme with a tree decked out in university team colors. You could even consider a palm tree for a bit of tropical respite from winter weather.

What are your ideas for this holiday? Share them with us in the comments or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or Pinterest. We can’t want to see what you have in store!

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DIY Halloween Ghost Yard Decoration

Oct 19, 12 DIY Halloween Ghost Yard Decoration

Halloween is almost here! If you’re like me, you love being creative and decorating your home. Today, we are going to be talking about making a glowing ghost to haunt the front yard this season! It is super easy to make, inexpensive, and made with things you most likely already have in your house. This crafting idea is fun for the kids as well! You can make your ghost as scary or silly as you’d like!

 

 

Materials to Build Your Ghost

1. Chicken Wire or a Tomato Cage

You’ll need this for the base of the ghost. Tomato cages work best because they require minimal shaping. They come in a variety of sizes and are inexpensive, but if you want to be a little more creative and add more shape to your ghost, then chicken wire is the way to go!

2. An Old Sheet or Piece of Fabric

Typically, you want to use something you would not miss. An old sheet is perfect to use for this project—especially if you want a textured/ripped effect at the bottom of your ghost. You can even use plain fabric of your choice and layer it with sheer fabric for added effects. It’s completely up to you and what look you’re going for!

3. Paint, Fabric, or Paper

There are a wide variety of things you can use for the face of your ghost. Fabric paint is the best method I can recommend. It’s simple, quick, and the kids can help! Not to mention it will last for many Halloweens to come! If you like to sew, you can also take black fabric and cut the eyes and mouth to your sheet. For a quick face without damaging the sheet, painted cardboard or construction paper taped onto the sheet will work just as well.

4. Lights!

For best results, use LED wide angle lightning lights.  The flashing effect of these lights makes your ghost(s) appear then disappear within seconds, making your house even more spooky and fun! The best part about these lights is the fact they’re indestructible and energy efficient! If you don’t have access to these lights, ordinary incandescent or LED mini lights will work as well.

 

Steps to Assemble Your Ghost

Take your base(s) and place wherever needed in the front yard. Keep in mind you may have to run an extension cord, so make sure there are no tripping hazards in the surrounding area. Make sure the base is secured by planting it into the ground.

Take the light strings and begin to wrap it around the base you created. For best results, focus the lights around the head area of your ghost. Think of the lights as a gradient: You want the most concentrated light around the head and have the light fade down the body of the ghost. This will add a spookier, glowing effect, making it look like your ghost is actually floating in your yard!

Once your lights are secured around the base of the ghost, place the “body” (aka sheet) over the base. Turn on your lights, and presto! You have a glowing ghost!

There are many ways to incorporate lighting into your DIY decoration projects. Be sure to check out our Halloween lighting ideas page for more inspiration to decorate your home with this Halloween! Making this for your home? Have your own personal twist to this idea? Share your ideas and photos with us! Drop us a line in comments or on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus. And if you’re really proud of your creation, be sure to share it on our Pinterest Halloween Pinboard!

 

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How to Pick a Christmas Tree

Oct 12, 12 How to Pick a Christmas Tree

Buying a Christmas tree, to many, is a yearly ritual of taking the family to a tree lot and buying a fresh, newly cut evergreen tree. For the more practical, it’s an ever-so-often trip to a store ending in “mart” to buy an artificial tree. There is always a conflict between aesthetics and practicality when it comes to buying a tree. What if you could select an artificial Christmas tree so realistic you would swear it even smelled like a real tree? What if it was also so well constructed you could pass it down for generations?

With today’s designer Christmas trees, like those from Barcana, that’s possible. Hardy branches, lifetime warranties, and quick setup are common to every tree we carry at 1000Bulbs.com. Though quality and durability are a given no matter which of our trees you choose, after you pick the size and the “species” of your tree, you have one decision left, whether to go with PVC or PE branches. Both are great options, but one or the other may be a better fit for your home or business.

The most common type of Christmas tree is made of polyvinyl chloride, more commonly known as PVC. At 1000Bulbs.com, we call these “classic” trees because they’re made of the material used to build Christmas trees for the past several decades. The manufacturing process is simple: Thin sheets of flexible PVC are cut into long, flat strips and then attached to a twisted wire shaft. Production of PVC trees is inexpensive, so savings that are passed to you, the customer. Though they aren’t the most exquisite option available, PVC Christmas trees are better constructed than they used to be, making them a good option for any homeowner on a budget.

Despite quality improvements, however, PVC trees barely compare to polyethylene, or PE, trees. Premium quality, ultra realistic PE Christmas trees are produced with the interior designer in mind. Their branches are injection molded and three-dimensional. Because the molds are created from real evergreen needles, PE branches are almost indistinguishable from the real thing. Though PE trees were once quite expensive, their price is now more in line with PVC trees, making them an option for homeowners as well as professional designers.

What both types of trees have in common is easy setup. If you remember tree setup taking an hour or more, you’ll be shocked to find out how quickly and easily you can set up a designer Christmas tree. If you don’t believe us, you can see for yourself in this Christmas tree setup video, where we set up a designer tree in less than 10 minutes! PE trees especially are almost “ready to go” right out of the box. The branches hold their shape well, even in storage, so they need very little “fluffing” and adjusting. Many models are even pre-lit with incandescent or LED lights. Whichever type you choose, you won’t be disappointed.

What kind of Christmas tree are you setting up this year? Let us know in the comments or drop up a line on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus. We’d especially like to see your holiday decoration photos on Pinterest!

And one more thing: We’re giving away one of our designer Christmas trees on Facebook. Click here to enter!

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