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There is an unspoken rule that says that every Christmas comedy must contain a scene in which one of the characters is completely entangled in Christmas lights. And while this on-screen situation can be funny, finding the humor in it when it happens in your living room can be difficult.
In fact, pretty much everything about those tiny clear or colored fairy lights is annoying and tiresome – including knowing how many yards of them to buy to decorate your tree. Happily, The editors of Real Simple have put together a practical guide to help you figure out how many feet of these lights you need for your tree. Here’s what you should know.
There’s a formula (kind of)
Of course, there are tons of variables when it comes to the size of Christmas trees (especially the living ones), but as a general guideline, you’ll need a string of lights with 150 lightbulbs for each foot, prop stylist and hobbyist Karin Lidbeck-Brent tells Real Simple. Most people tend to get trees around two meters tall, she says, so it would take six strands for a total of around 900 bulbs.
Other factors to consider
When it comes to decorating Christmas trees, Lidbeck-Brent knows what she’s talking about: She has decorated more than a thousand over the course of her career. And as helpful as having a formula, it also emphasizes that there are other factors to consider when purchasing lights for your tree. These include:
- Width of the tree: The formula focuses on the height of a tree, but it can also vary widely in width. If your tree is particularly wide, you will need more lights.
- Amount of light it emits: If you want a super bright tree, opt for lights with 200 lightbulbs per strand. For a subtle, darker tree, choose strands with 100 lightbulbs. Lidbeck-Brent thinks 150 onions per strand are a good middle.
- Extras: Accidents happen, or sometimes you finish putting lights on a tree and discover there are gaps, so Lidbeck-Brent recommends buying an extra strand or two just in case.
- storage room: How much space do you have to store all these lamps for the other 11 months of the year?
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Sure, you could spur it on, but when you have a plan the whole process becomes easier. “Think about what your priorities are before you start decorating,” Lidbeck-Brent told Real Simple. “If you want your ornaments to be the star, use fewer lights. If you overdo it with the lights, the glare will blind your ornaments so that you cannot see them. ”