Outdoor Christmas Decorations: How to make your trees sparkle

Hey, people it’s that time of year again. Well, nearly.
But then again, is it ever too early to start decorating your home for Christmas?

If you’re wondering what might make a great impression this festive season – and I’m not talking about Boris Johnson impressions, hilarious though they may be – why not consider putting on a dazzling display of lights on the trees and shrubs in the front garden?

With a few measurements and a spare weekend, you can transform your garden into a magical winter wonderland by wrapping your trees in sparkling fairy lights. Thousands of them. Your neighbours will be gobsmacked (I can hear their oohs and aahs already), your kids will treat you like a superhero and you’ll score big points with the mother-in-law.

So, man up, dust off the stepladder, buy some tree lights and get to work.

Measure up and go shopping
First off, you need to take some basic measurements. Measure the height of the tree, the circumference of the trunk and the circumference of each branch you want to wrap with lights. A 6″ bulb spacing works well with a 2-3″ spacing between strings. Now reach for your calculator and divide the height by your desired string spacing. Then multiply the total by the circumference. This will give you the total string length needed. Got it?

Alternatively, let’s make this a whole lot easier while keeping your manly dignity intact. Take your tree measurements to the lighting store and get them to work out exactly how many strings of lights you need. How’s that for a Eureka moment? They’ll also tell you how much power you’ll need and give you loads of handy tips. Job done!

The best way to wrap a tree in fairy lights
Now you’re back home with the correct length of fairy lights, wrap the length of the trunk up to about 3 or 4 foot high. Choose which branches should be wrapped – remember you want an even, pleasing distribution of light. And definitely get someone to help – but not the wife, you’ll only start arguing again – as wrapping trees is a lot easier as a 2 man job.

  • Begin at the base of the tree with the first string of lights. Make sure the male plug is ground level so that you can connect it to your power cord.
  • Starting with the female, begin wrapping the tree, connecting the male end with the female end of the next light string.
  • Wrap the lights tightly so they stay in place. If you need you can use plastic ties.
  • Increase the vertical spacing of strings on branches where the strings will be wrapped upwards and then back down again.

Now stand back and admire your handiwork, then switch on. If there’s a big bang and all the lights in the neighbourhood go out, something’s wrong. If everything lights up and family and friends start cheering and slapping you on the back, well done, Miracle Man! 

Outdoor Christmas Decorations

Christmas lights on evergreens
Now that you’ve got the hang of tree lighting, you might like to give try wrapping lights on your evergreen trees, conifers and the like. Here’s how:

  • Use C7 and C9 bulbs as these are the most popular and give a great effect.
  • Starting at the bottom and working your way up, wrap the lights in a random pattern. This way, if a few of the bulbs burn out it won’t be noticeable.
  • Don’t try and wrap lights to the top of the tree – halfway up will do very nicely and it’s a lot safer.
  • Use an extending pole to reach the higher parts of the tree.

Decorating bushes and hedges
While you’re at it, you may as well string a few lights on your hedges and bushes. The best method is to use here is net lighting. These cover bushes and hedges like a soft blanket, sparing you the hassle to put individual lights or strings of light into place.

However, if you prefer to use outdoor tree lights, you can do that too.

  • Stick to random patterns throughout.
  • If you have a long hedge, position your power source at the centre and string lights to the right and left.
  • Secure strings to the outer areas of bushes, and cover the top completely and at least three-quarters of the way down the sides.
  • To be safe, leave about a 1-foot clearance off the ground so that the lights don’t sit in puddles of water, snow or ice.

Thanks to Richie Chester, a freelance writer and, weirdly, a Christmas-light-arranging guru – working with portable scaffolding supplier Precipitous.


Until Next Time… Charlotte x


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