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A glowing tree is a necessity during the holidays, but the actual execution is easier said than done. With bulb failures, strands that take hours to untangle, and so many different options on the market (LED, color, festive shapes), it’s easy to get lost when it comes to putting lights up. Whether you’re opting for a traditional approach or an over-the-top rendition that will seriously test your patience (but result in an ultra-cool look nonetheless), there are a handful of things to keep in mind before you start:

Check It Twice

There’s nothing worse than winding your way up a tree, only to find out your bright lights are actually the opposite. Plug in every set you plan on using beforehand to look for burned-out bulbs so that you’re not stuck with gaping holes. 

Use a Formula

As a general rule, aim for one 100-light string per foot to get a truly twinkly tree. So a six-foot tree would require 600 lights, while an eight-footer would require 800, and so on.

Work Your Way Up

Start stringing lights at the bottom of the tree, where it’s widest, leaving enough slack so that the stand can be plugged in as you start to wind up. The closer toward the trunk you can tuck your lights, the better (you’ll get a brighter display). Take a step back as you work in order to see how it’s glimmering from across the room. This is how you’ll find those blank spots (although you checked for those already, right?) and fix them accordingly. 

Layer, Layer, Layer 

Can’t decide between white or colored lights, new or vintage? You don’t have to. In order to master the eclectic look, start with one type. Then fill in as you repeat from the bottom up with your second and third sets. And, of course, don’t forget the ornaments.  

See more holiday tips: 12 Unexpected Uses for Christmas Lights Here’s How to Actually Cook a Turkey These Holiday Decor Ideas Are Perfect for Small Spaces