Thursday, December 11, 2014

10 Bright Ideas for Lighting Up Your Christmas Tree

Dear Reader, 
Every year I hope to get a little better, become a little more well-versed in my dealings with the enemy Christmas lights. I remain optimistic that my growing knowledge will in the end, triumph over the annual victories the Christmas lights seem to be winning.

I have little doubt that most of you have more common sense than I will ever be able to boast.
If you're a well-versed Christmas tree lighter, or if you've been generously blessed with the gift of common sense, this is not the post for you. Would you rather read about a lady with a squash for a head ?

But.   If you are one of my Christmas-light-struggling kindred spirits, or if this is your first year putting up a Christmas tree and have up to this point remained untouched by the unsuspecting havoc the enemy Christmas tree lights are responsible for...and here you are reading this, well then there is valid purpose here.
Although I am far from an expert, I will now continue to write out for you some of the wisdom I wish someone would have shared with my once 20 year-old, tree lighting virgin, not-much-sense-making self.

Lessons like...Did you know that if you replace one of the light bulbs on a string of lights with the red-tinted light bulb that comes in the packet, the lights begin to blink?!!  There you go.  Tip #1. All lights have the potential to become blinking lights. Figuring this out last year was truly an eureka "light bulb" moment. (so bad, I know)

Tip #2:  If buying a beautiful 25 dollar, pre-lit tree from Goodwill, expect the lights to begin dying off somewhere around 68 hours after bragging to your friends about it on fb.
a tree AND a puppy..and how sweet was this girl!

When that happens...there are three options.  
  • option 1: Open up the plug on the string of lights and replace those tiny little fuses.  The fuses are sold at hardware stores and sometimes they're included in the light box.  If the fuses were the problem, then problem solved.  
  • option 2:  After ordering those fuses from the hardware store in the next county over, waiting for them to come in, and then getting there to pick them up...if you proceed to happily replace each fuse, only to see that the lights still do not work....You can replace the burned out lights by locating the black ones, pinching them out carefully, and putting in new little bulbs. This is only practical if there are one or two burned-out bulbs. If there are say, half of a string burned out, it's probably best not to do this, as it doesn't make any sense. 
  • option 3:  Cut them off.  This is messy.  This is scratchy.  This is what sometimes must be done.  Also, if you wait to try options 1 and 2 before option 3, your tree lights will be might not be in working order until post-Easter.
Tip #3:  If you live in a small home/apartment, and the novelty of a huge artificially "pre-lit" tree, bought from Goodwill one year earlier has worn off...if you decide it's much too big/tall for a place in your home, it's possible to use only the top two sections, disguising the bottom with a tree skirt.
Tip #4:  If you buy a tree from Goodwill that is too big/tall for your home, and you have no good place to store it, you can then begin a "Let's be cute and buy a little Charlie Brown tree!" tradition, keeping the hugormous tree in storage.

or maybe skip the tree altogether
the no tree years
that's a light fixture.  a story for another time.

Tip #5:  If you eventually find yourself in a home large enough to use all three sections of your no longer pre-lit Goodwill tree...
and now you have a garage, you may want to say, "Let's keep all the sections together and buy a cover for it, and store it in our garage, so next year it's not so much fuss". This is a great idea. But if you don't buy a cover big enough to cover the entire tree, it could end up looking like this one.
When If that happens, you may not feel like messing with it.  You may be afraid of the spiders you imagine to be all through it.
You may decide to skip it, and instead buy a last-minute-like, along-the-road tree.  Especially if you just found a tree stand for 3 dollars and 50 cents at the discount store.

Tip #6:  If you know that you're allergic to almost every tree, buying a real tree may not be your best idea.  If after putting lights on the tree, you arms are swollen and red, it is a good indication you are allergic to that tree, and should not be putting lights on it...or even have it in your home. Instead, consider investing in a Goodwill or not from Goodwill artificial tree that you love.  Use it every year, and light a green pine candle to fake your guests and yourselves into thinking it's real.

Tip #7 has nothing to do with lights:  If you buy a real tree from a man who is showing off all of his nice trees to you, and as he shows you each one he says something about this one "being a great corner tree", you probably shouldn't send all your friends his way, even though he may ask you to.
Tip #7 and 1/2 also has nothing to do with lights:  If the person selling you a tree says there's a hole in the tree, he means there is a place where the branches are sparse.  He does not mean there is an actual hole in the tree.

Tip #8:  This one comes with effective visual aids. A tree lights up very pretty when you first put lights on the inside of the tree.  Like this...

Then you can run out of lights and go to Walmart to buy more.

Then you can try getting a different size bulb, because pinterest convinced you that two sizes of bulbs is the only way to go from here on out.

Bonus tip: There is a difference between white and warm white.
If you accidentally buy the ugly big white lights, don't panic. Take the lights off, go back to Walmart and watch the return lady perform the Christmas miracle of getting them back into the box--and then closing it up again!!  amazing.
While there, you may want to consider more just regular lights, same size, because who has time to mess?

Then you can go around the outside of your tree like this...
Then you can run out of lights and go to Walmart again for some more.

Ten days later you can finish putting the lights around the outside of the tree, and it will shine perfectly from the inside out, making all the ornaments sparkle...if you have ornaments.  
This year we're making stuff for our tree instead of getting out ribbons/ornaments. This way, when Christmas is over, I can quickly get rid of  take down our Christmas stuff and head out of town with Siri for her far away treatments.  

Besides, why rush?  Christmas decorating, popcorn stringing, cinnamon applesauce ornament-making, and snowflake cutting is all a part of the fun.  This year we'll be decorating it right up to Christmas day. 
 lights reflecting in the windows

Tip #9:  Before you go to Walmart three times for lights, you could first check inventory in the big garage. You may have thought ahead and bought enough Christmas lights the previous year to save your future self from the hassle.  
If you DID think ahead and there were enough lights there to not only light up your house, but also the two houses across the street...again don't panic.  DON'T undo the lights. Instead consider breathing, going with it, and thanking Walmart for their abundance of lights and their 24 hour service (gratitude is the first step to happiness.  maybe.  I don't know.  maybe not.  but don't undo the lights either way.).

Tip #10:  Plug in lights before putting them up on your Christmas tree/house.

Truth be told. I love them.

How are you making your today world beautiful?
Please share your latest project photos and stories with us on our group fb page here!

Do you have a Christmas light tip?
Please share it with us in the comments below! 

Pinterest "pin me" images:


  1. Truly lovely.......You certainly light up our world EVERY day of the year. BTW.......thanks for the "hang the lights on the inside of the tree first" tip. Gotta remember that one. about that squash head lady???

    1. ha ha ha Linda. Do you remember the squash head lady this summer? She was silly.
      Thank you for your kind words. You are so very good at encouraging me. <3


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