The first step to decorating a Christmas tree, whether fresh or artificial, should be putting on the Christmas lights.
Often people do not add enough lights or add them incorrectly, which does not illuminate the Christmas tree like it should.
Here are some designer secrets for adding Christmas lights to a Christmas tree, even if you are using a pre-lit tree this year.
Basic String Lights
You will need standard mini string lights in a transparent or translucent clear or white color for lighting your Christmas tree.
Purchase a minimum of 1 strand of 100 lights per foot height of tree (a 6 foot tree would get 6 strands and an 8 foot tree would get 8 strands).
Designers know that the strands should all be identical size, color, and shape and should not blink or flash or do anything fancy but be continuously lit for the best results.
Be aware that white Christmas lights come in cool white, warm white, pure white, and other "white" colors, so make sure to not mix them up. Cool white lights tend to have a blue tint to them and warm white lights have a more yellow tint to them, so select whatever color white you prefer (Many designers prefer warm white since it is close to the color of a candle flame).
If you have a traditional green Christmas tree, you should use lights with a green wire, and if you have a white flocked Christmas tree, you should use lights with a white wire.
You may also need a power strip if you need to plug in multiple strands and maybe an extension cord if your outlet is not near your Christmas tree.
A technology upgrade would be to get a power strip with a remote control so you don't have to crawl on the floor to turn on the Christmas lights.
Lights should be added to your Christmas tree before any decorations are added.
Start by plugging in your power strip to the wall outlet, then plugging in each strand of Christmas lights into the power strip to make sure all of your Christmas lights work before adding them to your Christmas tree.
Unplug every strand except the one you are starting to decorate with then add the Christmas lights to your Christmas tree.
Keep the lights powered while putting them on your tree so you will immediately know if there is a problem so you can fix it.
You should add the Christmas lights starting from the bottom back of your Christmas tree going toward the trunk of the tree and back out towards the tip of each of the branches.
After each of the lowest branches are covered, move the lights up the trunk to the next level of branches and start again until you have reach the very top of your Christmas tree.
Do not simply go around the tree, else the inside will be dark like a black hole.
Designers always take a step back every few minutes to take a look at your progress and make sure you are getting the look you desire.
Do your best to hide the cords as much as possible.
If you need to run another strand from your power strip, run the strand up near the trunk of the tree, not along the tips of the branches.
When plugging in your Christmas lights, you can plug them into each other, string to string, or plug each string into the power strip individually.
Be aware of how many strings of lights can be plugged in together.
Often the newer LED string Christmas lights will allow many to be plugged in together while the older incandescent lights may only allow 2-4 strings to be daisy chained together.
Follow your Christmas light manufacturer's directions to ensure a safe installation.
Designer Tips, Tricks, and Secrets
For an extra designer touch when lighting your Christmas tree, there are several special lights that can be added after the basic string lights are installed - even if you have a pre-lit Christmas tree.
The first designer secret is you can add a bit of twinkle to your Christmas tree by adding 1-2 strands of 50 or 100 clear or white blinking lights (no more than 2 strand for a tree under 10' tall or 3 if you have a tree that is at least 10' tall) wrapped around just the trunk of your Christmas tree (they can be a different color white than your basic string lights if you wish). You do not want to have lots of irritating flashing lights, just a slight twinkle effect.
Another designer secret is to add 1-2 strands of 50 or 100 slightly larger white or clear string lights throughout the middle section of the branches of your Christmas tree to add dimension and variety (C7 or G30 size works well).
Some people love a very bright Christmas tree, especially designers. Feel free to add another set of basic string lights on top of the first set of basic string lights for extra light. You can use a different color white light for added dimension if you cover the entire Christmas tree in the new color. Feel free to add up to 5 strands of lights per foot height of tree if you really want your Christmas tree to glow and be the center of attention.
The final designer secret is to move around the Christmas lights slightly after you have added your Christmas ornaments to light certain special ornaments from the front. Having all of your lights behind your special ornaments will not showcase them like a light from the top and another from the bottom in front of the ornament. Simply find the closest light and adjust it a bit to position it the way you like.
See the short video below for extra designer tips and tricks!
You might also like the article How to Fluff an Artificial Christmas Tree into the Correct Shape.