How to put christmas lights on a tree outdoors

How to Install Lights on an Outdoor Tree

Excited to turn your yard into a winter wonderland this year, but don’t know where to start? We all enjoy hanging stockings around the house and decorating the Christmas tree in our living rooms. But the fun doesn’t have to stop inside the home! Get your holiday light show started with this guide to safely hanging Christmas lights on your outdoor trees.

What You Need to Hang Christmas Lights on an Outdoor Tree

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • String lights
  • Extension cords
  • Sturdy ladder
  • Measuring tape or yardstick
  • Sharpie-type pen

Choose the Tree You’ll Hang Lights On

Before measuring out your lights, decide which tree you’ll hang your lights on. In general, trees with more textured bark will hold the lights most easily.

You also want to choose a tree that 1) your extension cords will reach, and that 2) will be visible to passersby. Note which side of the tree faces the road so you can arrange the display such that the less-sightly ends of cords hang on the back of the tree.

Hanging Lights on Trees with Exposed Trunks

Trees like oaks, maples and beeches won’t have leaves left during the winter, so your lights will be more visible. Once you decide on a bulb size (mini, C7 or C8), you’ll need to measure the string lights you want to hang on your outdoor tree. This is a good time to test the lights to make sure all the bulbs work!

Measure the height of the tree with your yardstick or measuring tape. Then measure the circumference of the trunk. Don’t forget a separate set of measurements for any branches you’d like to decorate as well.

The easy rule of thumb is (height / separation) x circumference. For example, if we were hanging lights three inches apart on a four-foot-high trunk with a two-foot circumference, our measurements would be (4’ / 3”) x 2’ = 16 x 2 = 32’ of lighting. Perform the same calculations for each branch you’d like to include.

Note: To complete the calculation, make sure to convert any measurements that are in feet to inches for an all-inches result, and then divide that result by 12 for the number of feet you need in lights. Like so: 48 inches (4' truck height) / 3 inches (separation) = 16 inches x 24 inches (2' tree circumference) = 384 inches, which converts to 32-feet of lighting.

Hanging Lights on Evergreen Trees

Evergreen trees will still have greenery during the winter and will require longer light strings with bigger bulbs. Mr. Handyman recommends 6-inch bulb spacing. Consider hanging larger bulbs such as C7s or C8s on evergreen trees.

Hanging Lights on Large Outdoor Trees

Decorating a large outdoor tree will require a little extra planning.

  • Decorate outside branches, as inside branches may not be as visible.
  • Set up more than one ladder in case one falls.
  • Ask a friend or family member to steady the ladder you’re on.

Hanging Lights on Your Outside Tree

Once you’ve chosen your tree and measured out your lights, it’s time to start hanging lights on your outside tree! There’s no need to use damaging nails or staples here – the bark should hold the strands just fine. You can use zip ties for areas that need extra security.


  1. Set up your ladder. Always make sure you can climb down easily.
  2. Mark your tree. Using the yardstick or measuring tape and your Sharpie, make a mark about every three inches up the length of the trunk. You’ll use this as a guide when you’re hanging your lights.
  3. Attach your power source. Run the extension cord from your house to the tree. Wrap the cord around the base of the tree a couple times and tie it in a simple knot so that there’s no risk of unplugging if anything disturbs the cord. Start about one-inch up to keep your wires out of water or snowdrifts.
  4. Start wrapping the light strand. Wrap your lights firmly enough to stay on the tree bark, but not as tightly as possible – if your tree swells after a heavy rain, it will need room to expand without damaging your lights.
  5. Plan spacing for branches. If you would like to wrap multiple branches with the same string of lights, space your wraps twice as far apart going up so that you can wrap in the middle as you descend.
  6. Secure the end of your light strand with a simple knot or twist tie.
  7. Plug your lights in and admire!

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your outside tree lights! You can create beautiful multicolored trees by using several light strands in different colors. To avoid mixing up your colors, color-code the strands by attaching a piece of colored tape.

Christmas Light Hanging Services

All Tangled Up? No need to add to your holiday stress! Mr. Handyman’s holiday light hanging services can do all the work for you. Contact your local Mr. Handyman at (877) 685-1377 or request service online.

Make sure your home is safe and sound this holiday season with an electrical safety inspection from Mr. Electric®. Like Mr. Handyman, Mr. Electric is part of the Neighborly® community of trusted home service providers. You can count on Mr. Electric for all your electrical repairs, installations and upgrades.


  • DIY
  • Holiday & Seasonal
  • Outdoor Living

Wrap Lights on an Outdoor Tree in 6 Easy Steps ⋆ Love Our Real Life

Lights on outdoor trees give a warm and cozy feeling! Whether it's for outdoor Christmas decorations or simply to give an outdoor space better ambience.

Check out my 6 easy steps to wrap lights on an outdoor tree to decorate for Christmas or to dress up an outdoor patio!

Get more ideas for improving outdoor spaces here.

Outdoor tree lighting can add a beautiful focal point to your backyard. If your landscape lights are minimal, wrapping trunks of outdoor trees (as well as branches of the trees) with fairy lights is a fun and inexpensive way to illuminate your yard and outdoor space.

The warm glow of lights on trees doesn't have to be reserved for Christmas! This is a great way to spotlight a beautiful tree in your backyard for summer enjoyment too.

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We have a neighbor that beautifully wraps several trees in her yard each year for Christmas. When I say she wraps lights on her trees, I mean she carefully wraps the trunk and most of the branches for an amazing show!

I've intended to do the same for many years without success as I was no fool to how much work would be involved. However, this year I actually did it.

Well, kind of. I wrapped one small tree. BUT, I love it.

The key to this process is patience. Having just completed this little project myself, I do have some insight you might benefit from. I will not claim to be an expert, but I do have some tips you can use.

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure policy for details.

  • Clear indoor /outdoor heavy duty lights
  • Zip Ties (optional)
  • Outdoor Extension cord (optional)
  • a healthy dose of patience

Kind of kidding about requiring patience, kind of not!

This little tree took me around 2 ½ hours to wrap. Keep in mind this was my first time doing anything more than just throwing lights up and calling it a day.

I typically love to live my life by the "good enough" motto, but I really wanted to make an exception with this little tree.



Determine the tree(s) you want to have lights.

This particular project is not the same as putting lights on your Christmas tree as I selected a tree that as I selected a tree that would allow you to appreciate the shape of the tree branches.

We have this small, multi-stem trunked maple tree that I really wanted to use. My husband refers to it as our weed, because it is typically growing wildly unruly.

But, it is close to an outdoor electric outlet, small, and I like the general shape of the tree. It was the winner!

Tips for selecting a tree:

  • If lights will be left on year round, avoid selecting a tree that is not mature.
  • Be aware of how the base of the tree will appear once highlighted with lights.
  • Is the tree convenient to a power source?
  • Will you want lights to reach the top of the tree or just a portion of the way up? Larger trees require a LOT more lights plus can present a challenge when wrapping.
  • Do you like the symmetry of the tree? Lights will highlight the shape of the tree, so be sure you appreciate how it will look once illuminated in your landscape design.
  • Think about the types of trees, evergreens vs. deciduous? Deciduous trees will not have leaves during winter and will look much different with lights when they get their leaves in the spring.

My golden doodle, Bentley photobombed the above picture! He loves a good project.

2. Determine how many lights you will need.

I found two 400-light strands on clearance after Christmas last year. It required ALL of the lights (800) for my small tree.

My plan was to just wrap as much as I could.

The strand you get will let you know how many you can safely connect together.

The best outdoor lights to use for your trees, especially if you intend to leave up year-round are LED lights. These are more energy-efficient and can better withstand the outdoor elements.

Many of the outdoor LED lights are solar powered. They do have a battery pack as well.

PRO TIP: A quick tip is to pick a reasonably warm day. I was lucky enough to find a day that my hands didn't get cold and no gloves would be needed. That would not have feen fun!

As I'm typing this post, we have at least a couple inches of snow on the ground. Brrrr!

3. Start wrapping from the bottom of the tree.

With the first strand of lights, ensure you have the male end (male plug) of the light strand accessible to plug into an outlet/power source.

My outlet is not super close, so I needed to use an outdoor extension cord to reach.


  • Smaller strands will be easier to manage! My 400 strand of lights was really challenging to get through small branches/spaces on our little tree.
  • It would be best to start with your lights wrapped in a ball shape to help you navigate around the tree trunk and branches more easily.
  • Having a helper will make the process faster.

4. Go around the Circumference of the tree trunk / branches systematically, wrapping tightly.

I did not feel the need to use any zip ties, but you could certainly do so if you felt there were areas the lights weren't as secure as you'd like.

The closer you space the lights, the more dramatic the end result will be! However, keep in mind this will mean using more lights!

If you will need to go back down a branch to connect with another, you will be able to space the lights further apart.

Also, try to pick limbs that you would consider the stronger branches so they can handle the weight of the mini lights. 

Keep in mind, you do not need to go all the way to the top of each branch!

I would suggest finding a reasonable height to stop with your lights and stay consistent with each branch. You will have a much more uniform look in the end.

5. Check your lights

Every little bit throughout the process, I plugged in my lights to get a better perspective of how it would look. This allowed me to make a few adjustments along the way.

You could also just leave the lights while you wrap them to give you a good idea of how they look.

It was starting to get darker when I was wrapping my tree and this helped me see exactly how the string lights were looking!


Admire your work and stop coveting your neighbor!

I love my sweet neighbor and love that she inspired me to try this myself. With a few tweaks, I think I can shave some serious time off when I do it again next year.

That's right. I said next year.

I'm a sucker for lights and I will definitely find time to do this again next season.

Did you see my post giving tips how to hang outdoor string lights? This post gives great tips for hanging hanging string lights on a deck, pergola, gazebo, fence, etc!

We love them and use them every chance we get. Lights add so much ambiance for outdoor dining or just hanging out on the patio without a big price tag. As does fire!

You also can see our fire pit in the below image. Here are some tips if you are searching for the perfect fire pit or fire bowl for your outdoor space.

Get the full deck and patio before and after makeover. It's crazy what a change this project has made for how we use our home.

I'm on the lookout for a tree in my backyard that I can leave lights on year-round, too! I feel a bit like a tween with my string light obsession;-)

But, I bet you'll love them too!

Thanks for stopping by Love Our Real Life today. I hope I've inspired you to add a little light to your life (pun intended!). Now, go wrap lights on an outdoor tree at your home!

Have a great week!

Be sure to save this post to Pinterest or share on FaceBook so you can find it later!

How to hang a Christmas garland?

With this technique, you can easily hang any garland.

Anna Zalesskaya

Step 1: In plain sight

Enter the room and notice where your eyes first landed? This is where you need to hang a garland. Most likely, it will be a Christmas tree, but garlands can also be hung on windows, decorate a railing, a bookshelf or a mantelpiece.

Step 2: Select style

Light bulbs are also different: multi-colored, with decorations, plain, warm yellow or white LEDs on batteries. If the style of the house is classic - multi-colored light bulbs are more suitable for you, if you prefer minimalism, eco-style or Scandinavian design - choose light bulbs of one, white color.

Step 3: Do some math

Pro rule of thumb: a tree about 2 meters high will need a minimum of 500 bulbs (the number is always indicated on the package). Then add 100 bulbs for every 30 cm. Consider the width of the Christmas tree. The larger it is, the more lights you will need.

Step 4: Assemble the tool

You need a ladder, not a chair or stool. Before winding the garland on the branches, check its serviceability so that you don’t feel sorry for the wasted efforts. Stock up on a couple of extension cords. Despite the fact that most garlands have the ability to connect with each other, you should not insert more than 500 lights into one mains wire. Be careful: about 15,000 different accidents happen every year during the preparation for the New Year!

Step 5: Big Ball

Sounds weird, but if you don't want the garland to get tangled, roll it into a big ball before hanging it up. Start winding from the part that does not fit into the socket. This will make it possible to hold the garland in one hand and hang it with the other.

Step 6: Start Hanging

Light up the lights so you can see where, and start at the top and just enjoy the process. If the tree is in a corner, hang the garland horizontally in a zigzag pattern from side to side until you reach the bottom. If the tree is placed opposite the window, wind it in a spiral, from top to bottom in a circle. If you like vertical lines, no one minds, but keep in mind that the lights in this case will be located higher from the floor. To create a 3D effect, twist the garland diagonally, a little closer to the trunk. In any case, it will be beautiful, there are no conditions: this is right, but this is not. Everything is just the way you want it.

Next level

Shuffle the garlands with each other. First, spin the white lights, and then the multi-colored ones, only in the other direction. Remember which ones were hung last. It is from them that you will then need to start removing the garland after the holidays.

Illuminated figures

Battery operated LED lights can be used to make illuminated figures for the home or the street. Take the iron hangers from the dry cleaners. With the help of pliers and wire cutters, give them some shape, for example, the shape of a star. Then wind a garland around this iron base and attach it to a tree, put it on a bookshelf or hang it from the ceiling.


Use a large ball to wrap tree branches (Step 5). Wrap the branches tightly, starting at the bottom of the trunk and working your way up to each branch. Do not try to wrap each branch if it is difficult and inconvenient. When it's dark, you'll only see the parts that you've highlighted.

How to hang a garland on a Christmas tree beautifully: indoors and outdoors, step-by-step instructions, diagrams and video

Decorating a Christmas tree is an important moment that not only children, but also adults are waiting for. Packages with toys and tinsel are taken out, beautiful balls are hung, perhaps some decorations are even made by hand. But the Christmas tree must sparkle and shine, and this requires LED lights. How best to hang a garland on a Christmas tree is described in this article.

Decorating the Christmas tree correctly: garland or toys first?

It is much more convenient to decorate the Christmas tree in the following order:

  1. First of all, lights are placed on the Christmas tree. Beforehand, it is recommended to lay out the garland on the floor and check the operation of the light bulbs, then distribute it on the tree.
  2. Only after that you can hang toys on the branches: balls, bells, houses, etc. Since the light bulbs are already on the tree, you can assemble a composition that matches the color. For example, hang a golden bow near the red light. When all the decorations are on the tree, you need to make sure once again that they are evenly distributed and securely fastened to the branches.
  3. At the end of the decoration, artificial snow can be laid out on the ends of the paws, and the entire Christmas tree can be decorated with rain, beads and tinsel.

See also: DIY Christmas toys

Reasons why it is better to hang an electric garland on the Christmas tree in the first place:

  • Without additional decorations, the wire is easy to lead to the outlet.
  • You can turn on the lights, check their work, see how beautifully they are distributed among the branches. In which case, the garland is easy to remove and reposition.
  • Lights are easier to match with Christmas decorations so that they are in the right color scheme.

Do not forget about the design concept, which many are guided by in the process of preparing for the New Year holidays. If you want to achieve the effect of an inner glow on the tree, place the lights closer to the trunk, and then hang the rest of the decorations. The same applies to New Year's lighting with large bulbs - they need to be distributed on the Christmas tree in the first place. Designers prefer to hang small flashing LEDs on a Christmas tree already decorated with toys. A slight shimmer will give the Christmas tree a magical aura, and the lights will attract attention.

Hanging the lights on the Christmas tree before or after the toys - everyone decides for himself. The main thing is that the preparation for the New Year brings joy.

See also: Creating garlands for the Christmas tree with your own hands

How to choose a garland?

Among the abundance of shimmering garlands presented in stores, it is difficult to make a choice. First, let's look at the main types of LED decorations:

  • Filamentous. Most often, it is with such lighting equipment that the Christmas tree and the room are decorated. They can be in the form of one long cord on which LED bulbs are located. Manufacturers also produce garlands in the form of a grid or fringe - it is convenient to hang them on windows and walls.
  • Street. To decorate the Christmas tree on the street, they use special transparent flexible garlands with LED bulbs, which are reliably protected from moisture.
  • LED strips. They are used not only as a New Year's decoration, but also for additional lighting in the room.

Manufacturers of New Year's lighting equipment recommend purchasing an LED decoration with 500 bulbs for a two-meter Christmas tree (their number is indicated on the package). If the tree is 30-50 cm taller, it is better to choose a garland with an additional 50-100 bulbs.

Classic Christmas decorations can glow with a yellowish dim light, and light bulbs often fail. Manufacturers have come up with and introduced many innovations so that the garlands work for a long time and decorate the Christmas tree with iridescent, multi-colored lights.

But do not forget that the garland can be dangerous to health and even life:

  • To avoid fire due to excessive heating of the bulbs, you should purchase a decoration with a power of no more than 65 watts.
  • Do not let children turn lights on and off by themselves.
  • Do not put strings with lights in glass bottles, despite the fact that such arrangements look very nice. Such decor can provoke an electric shock.

What to look for when buying LED garlands:

  1. The plug must be durable, made of quality material, not change its original shape.
  2. You can calculate the desired length of the decoration as follows: measure the height of the Christmas tree and buy an ornament three times longer in length.
  3. The wire that will be connected to the outlet must be at least 1.5 m for a home Christmas tree, for street decor - 10 m or more.
  4. Light bulbs must be tightly fixed, not wobble, much less fall out of the sockets.
  5. The power supply must only be opened with a screwdriver or other special tools. It is better to look at the soldering of wires before buying a product.
  6. For a street Christmas tree, purchase special lighting equipment with additional protection against moisture. On the packaging, the manufacturer must indicate that the jewelry is intended for external use.
  7. Samples of good quality must be free from foreign, unpleasant odors.
  8. The purchased model must be certified, otherwise it is forbidden to use it to decorate the Christmas tree and the room.

The operation of the garland should be checked in the store, and at home it is undesirable to immediately plug it into the outlet. Give time for the bulbs to warm up to room temperature, only then proceed to the decor of the Christmas tree.

How to decorate a Christmas tree with a garland?

There are several secrets on how to hang the garland so that the lights look beautiful:

  1. The decoration is placed on the Christmas tree only after the tree is placed vertically. If the Christmas tree will stand in the corner, you need to think in advance which side of it should look more elegant.
  2. Before hanging a luminous decor, lay it out on the floor, check the operation of all the bulbs, connect it to the outlet to make sure that all the lights are working.
  3. It is more convenient to start hanging the decoration from above, evenly distributing the lights in a zigzag pattern over the branches. If the tree will be in the center of the room, start at the top and work your way around.
  4. If you place lights near the trunk of a tree, it will look magical and mysterious, but it is better not to use flickering light bulbs for this.
  5. A thin garland with monochrome lights can be wrapped around each branch, starting from the lower legs.

Is it possible to hang a garland on an artificial Christmas tree and how to do it correctly:

  • Artificial tree needs additional, warmer lighting. Instead of blue or silver light bulbs, decorate the artificial Christmas tree with gold, red, purple lights.
  • Any artificial Christmas tree can be decorated with a garland, but provided that the device is fully functional, there are no bare wires in it, and all bulbs are tightly held in cartridges.
  • If there is not enough cord to decorate the entire height of the Christmas tree, you do not need to remove the decorations and start over. Buy another copy and complete the decor to the end.

If the Christmas tree is in the house

Interior designers offer their own way to decorate the Christmas tree with a garland:

  • Enter the room and pay attention to where your eyes first turned. It is in this place that it is better to put a shiny and sparkling Christmas tree. In addition to the tree, you can decorate windows, stair railings, fireplaces, bookshelves, etc. with lights.
  • Come up with a style of New Year's decor, and only then choose decorations for it. Light bulbs are different: plain, multi-colored, with a warm yellowish tint, curly. For a classic style, it is better to choose traditional colored lights, and for a Scandinavian or eco-style, plain or white ones are suitable.
  • When choosing a decoration, consider not only the length, but also the width of the Christmas tree: the more fluffy it is, the longer the garland will be needed.

See also: Creating a Christmas tree from a garland on a wall or window with your own hands

The sequence of further actions:

  1. We check the health of the decoration before hanging it on the branches.
  2. Preparing a few extensions in case the cord is not enough to decorate the entire Christmas tree. Most garlands are made in such a way that it is possible to attach them to each other. But according to fire safety rules, it is impossible to insert a Christmas decoration with more than 500 lights into one wire.
  3. So that the decor does not get confused, it is more convenient to decorate the Christmas tree together. You can wind the cord into a ball, starting from the part opposite to the plug. So you will hold the decoration in one hand, and lay out the light bulbs on the branches with the other.
  4. Light up the lights to see what colors will be on the tree. Start hanging decor by choosing a pattern: zigzag, spiral, top-down, diagonal, vertical lines, etc.

How to hang a garland on a street tree?

Tips and tricks on how to decorate a street tree on a porch or garden:

  • It is better to use warm colors of lights: yellows, reds, purples.
  • The plug from the garland must reach the socket. If you cannot connect the decoration to electricity, choose garlands that run on batteries.
  • Buy LEDs that are waterproof. On the packaging, the manufacturer must indicate that the garland is allowed to be used outdoors.
  • You can purchase ready-made sets of New Year's lighting equipment, for example, 10 luminous threads 10 m long each. With this composition, you can easily decorate a street Christmas tree with a height of 5-10 m.

To create a festive, magical mood in a country house or in the country, they often use special illumination from luminous bulbs. Not only a decorated street Christmas tree looks beautiful, but also a luminous roof, balcony railings, columns, windows from the outside, trees and shrubs.


There are several ways to hang the decoration on Christmas tree branches:

  1. Start from the top, evenly distributing the bulbs over the lower legs in a spiral with a little sagging.
  2. To make it easier to hang toys later, lights can be attached closer to the trunk.
  3. If the Christmas tree is in the center of the room, it is better to distribute the luminous decoration in a circle.
  4. On the tree, which will be located in the corner of the room, the garland is hung on the branches in a zigzag pattern.
  5. It is permissible to start decorating the Christmas tree from the lower branches, in tiers, as if obliquely, or from above with a serpentine.

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