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Christmas lights are rather unique inventions. They are designed to add beauty to the tree put in the middle of our living room, and after the holiday season has ended, they are stored for an entire year in an out-of-the-way place of the home. They also tend to be a rather frustrating invention. After all, if you haven’t dealt with a massive electrical cord tangle this holiday season, it really isn’t Christmas yet.

One of the questions that many people have is how to determine the number of Christmas tree lights that are needed for their tree. Real Simple provides a simple solution to calculating the number of those colorful lights you need. It’s as simple as adding a single strand per foot of tree height and then adding 2 to the total, although there may be some variation, depending upon the bulb count on the strings you are using.

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To break it down in simplistic terms, if you have a 6-foot tree, you will need six strands of light +2 additional for a total of eight strands. On the other hand, a 4-foot tree would need six strands of Christmas lights (one for every foot +2 extra).

Of course, this is just a general guideline so if you like a tree that is perfectly lit up with every square inch containing a light, add more strands. You could also use the recommended amount if you buy strands with plenty of bulbs per foot.

It’s not only about knowing how many strands of Christmas lights to use, it’s also a good idea to have a plan for decorating. The first strand should begin close to the wall outlet and the trunk should be encircled. Lights can be attached to lighter branches with floral wire if desired. To keep things as neat as possible after Christmas, use twist ties when repacking them in the box. It’ll keep you from regretting putting them away so quickly when you open them up again next year.