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How do I Figure out How Many Strings of Christmas Lights I Need?

By Marco Sumayao
Updated May 16, 2024
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In order to figure out how many strings of Christmas lights you'll need for the holidays, you'll first need to decide on a plan for your decorations. Determine precisely what objects you want to decorate and the specific way in which you want to attach the strings of Christmas lights to them. Once you've finalized the design, you should then accurately measure the items to which the lights will be attached. List down the dimensions of the objects, keeping your design in mind, and buy Christmas lights accordingly.

One important consideration in Christmas decorating is the use of outdoor lights and indoor lights. This distinction will affect how many strings of Christmas lights you will need. Outdoor lights are weatherproofed and meant to cover larger spaces, and so the strings tend to be longer than those of indoor lights. Indoor lights, on the other hand, are necessary for interior decorations because they generate less heat than outdoor varieties, making them less of a fire hazard. Decorators recommend that you purchase strings of Christmas lights for two separate plans: one for the exterior of your home, and one for the interior.

It's best to start measuring for Christmas lights for the exterior design, as this is a more difficult and time-consuming task than doing the interior plans. Measure each line on your design from end to end with measuring tape. For example, if you plan on lining your door frame with strings of Christmas lights, make sure to take measurements from the floor to the top of the frame, across the width of the frame, and back down to the floor. Make sure to have numbers in both imperial and metric units for future reference. Measurements for interior Christmas lights follows the same principle—measure everything from end to end.

When measuring for the Christmas tree, measure the circumference on each layer on which you would like to lay strings of Christmas lights. Add extra length to the final figures for each item, in both interior and exterior designs. Smaller objects should have 2 to 5 feet (about 60 to 150 centimeters) allowance, while larger objects should have 10 to 20 feet (about 3 to 6 meters) allowance. This will ensure that your strings of Christmas lights don't fall short when you decorate. Once the measurements are finished, you can then purchase strings of Christmas lights according to length.

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Discussion Comments
By Jewellian — On Dec 28, 2013

I wonder how many people are guilty of decorating with Christmas string lights the way I have. I can honestly say, "I have never pre-measured before decorating with Christmas tree lights, in or outside". I suppose I have most often thrown them up willy-nilly. Oh well, there is always next year!

By Ahmerus — On Dec 28, 2013

Thanks for this article. I knew that interior and exterior lights are sold as such, but I have been using them interchangeably. Until now, I had never given thought to the idea that outdoor Christmas lights generate more heat.

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