You've Been Stringing Your Christmas Lights Wrong—Here's How to Make It Easier (And Your Tree Prettier)

This is one holiday hack that will make your home merry and bright.

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Christmas trees may be a fixture in millions of homes around the holidays, but no two are exactly alike. In fact, part of the joy of putting up the hallmark decoration is getting to enjoy some of the unique family traditions that come along with it. But whether you choose brand-new additions or handed-down ornaments with sentimental value, you'll still need to make the tree shine before it's truly done. Before you add your bulbs this year, however, you might want to rethink your approach. Read on to find out how you've been stringing your Christmas lights up wrong—and what you can do to make the process easier and the end result prettier.

READ THIS NEXT: 7 Secrets Christmas Tree Vendors Don't Want You to Know.

The traditional method of "wrapping" the lights may not be best for your tree.

Synergic Works OU / Shutterstock

Even though putting up a tree each year is one of the fonder chores that come along with the holiday, getting the lights up can be the most stressful part.

From discovering your string no longer works to realizing there's no outlet near the base, it can sometimes feel like the easiest move is to run lights in whatever way you can to cover the branches. But if you're following the common side-to-side method, experts warn you might be selling your tree short.

"Wrapping lights in a horizontal manner—starting at the base of the tree and wrapping upward around the tree—is the traditional way of putting lights on a tree," David Flax, president of Window Genie, tells Best Life. "While there's nothing wrong with it, and it is good for making trees look fuller, it can leave gaps where the tree may be unlighted or bare."

Experts say there's an easier way to hang Christmas lights on your tree.

Happy devirse young couple decorating Christmas tree at home with colorful baubles
iStock / bernardbodo

As an annual tradition, it might feel blasphemous to change how you decorate your tree. But according to Flax, running your lights vertically up and down the tree instead of horizontally can brighten your decoration and make your job even easier.

"This is where you start at the base of the tree and move toward the top through the branches, then down again until the tree is covered," says Flax, who also operates Window Genie's Your Holiday Lights installation service. "This may take more time than the horizontal manner, but gaps are less likely to occur."

There's also another upside to choosing this method. "I string my lights from top to bottom because your plug is at the end of the strand and closer to the bottom of the tree and outlet," Sarah Fishburne, director of trend and design for Home Depot, told Country Living.

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You can also try combining the two methods for an even fuller effect.

Shot of an african american father and daughter celebrating Christmas with love at home.
iStock / bernardbodo

Of course, not all trees are created equal. If one method is leaving too many dark branches, Flax says there's a third method that combines both the horizontal and vertical techniques and can provide ample coverage.

"You begin by breaking the tree into three vertical sections," explains Flax. "Start hanging lights at the top of section one and work your way in a zig-zag manner down to the bottom of the section. As the tree widens, so should your zig zags. Repeat this with the other two sections."

"This method saves you from making dizzying circles around the tree, and it is easier to work the lights into the inner branches without gaps," he adds.

You should still choose whichever method fills you with the most holiday spirit.

overhead shot of grandparent decorating christmas tree
franckreporter / iStock

Let's be honest: Everyone appreciates a little holiday hack that can make the season a bit easier. But ultimately, how you get your tree looking great is something that comes down to whatever makes you happiest.

"There is no right or wrong way to hang lights," says Flax. "It's really more of a preference."

However, there are still two critical tips to keep in mind before you start to hang your ornaments. "Whatever method you choose, make sure to cover the inside branches close to the trunk as well as the exterior branches to give your tree depth," Flax suggests. "Also, avoid crossing wires over one another, or you'll have a tangled mess when you remove them."

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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