If you are thinking of buying outdoor Christmas tree lights online this year and need to learn more about what you should choose, then this guide will help.
It’s that time of year to really make the effort and whether you have a well-established tree in your garden, or you have simply planted your Christmas tree from the previous year’s festivities, there’s a wide range of outdoor Christmas decorations to choose from.
We also look at how you should hang your outdoor Christmas tree lights to enjoy the best effect.
Firstly though, we should consider Christmas lighting and the various bulb types.
Buying outdoor Christmas tree lights online
The most common type of lighting used in the UK for Christmas tree lights are LEDs. They are not only more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs – those are the traditional bulbs used for Christmas tree lights – they are also brighter. On average, LED bulbs should last around 50,000 hours and since you can get up to 3,000 LEDs on one string, these are a very attractive choice when decorating an outdoor tree for Christmas. The lights available include string lights, icicle lights, fairy lights as well as cluster lights – though for most of us string lights and fairy lights will be the main choice for wrapping around a tree trunk and branches.
Faux filament bulbs
Having said that incandescent bulbs are no longer used and have now largely been replaced by LEDs, there is still the opportunity of using faux filament bulbs when decorating an outdoor Christmas tree. These are traditionally shaped bulbs and can still play a key part in a festive display though the incandescent bulbs have been replaced by energy-efficient LEDs on the inside of the glass bulb shape. Also, when LEDs fail, the remaining LEDs remain lit – unlike fairy lights from yesteryear when one bulb failed, the entire string failed.
While still quite rare, it’s possible to have a pre-lit artificial Christmas tree for using outside and these bulbs and cables will be weatherproof and waterproof to ensure that they don’t fail or become a hazard.
Christmas lights projector
One way of illuminating an outdoor tree or a home for the festivities is to use a lights projector. These are growing in popularity, and you simply need a powered projector that will display a pattern on the tree. Though they are usually used for houses, they can be used in the garden too. Some people add Bluetooth speakers so they can synchronise sound with the display. These projectors are safe and a variety of colourful patterns can be projected onto the tree or home.
However, you need to ensure that your light projector is bought from a reputable supplier and can be used outdoors safely.
This YouTube video from Festive Lights highlights how useful connectable outdoor Christmas lights can be – and they can be used around the year.
Powering outdoor Christmas tree lights
As mentioned, the growing popularity of LEDs that are more energy-efficient and longer-lasting means these tend to be the bulb of choice. You can power them using:
- Battery power
You can quite easily decorate an outdoor Christmas tree with festive lights and use battery power – though this will be for light sets of up to 200 bulbs. You can use lights that have a timer so you could enjoy up to 30 days of battery-powered festive fun for your outdoor Christmas tree. Remember to use a waterproof battery pack.
- Mains power
If you want to put more than 200 LED lights on a tree to create a festive display, then you’ll be needing mains power. There are two routes for doing this – either running a cable from your home, though you risk damaging the wire if it runs through an open window. Or you can have an outdoor power source that is water and weatherproof so it can be used around the year. Don’t forget too that mains powered LED lights don’t use much electricity, so you won’t be stung with a large power bill when Christmas is over.
Outdoor Christmas decorations and lights – what to buy
Since it is becoming more popular to install festive lights for Christmas, you could use festoon lighting for trees or plants that run along a path.
This is a colourful and bright way to welcome guests and festoon bulbs look like old-fashioned house lightbulbs – they have an old-fashioned look and rather than have energy-wasting filaments, they are energy-efficient LEDs.
To help boost the traditional look, you could use a set of 20 festoons which could be in clear white.
It helps that you can buy mini-Christmas trees with lights for planting along your path – a great way to welcome visitors!
These are a novel and eye-catching way to stand out from neighbours – an excellent choice should you be entertaining extensively over the festivities!
If you need to decorate trees, shrubs, a part of your front garden or other outdoor features, then you could consider low voltage outdoor Christmas lights.
These are suitable for just about any festive setting and include:
- Fairy lights
- Cherry lights in red, purple and white
- Star lights
- Strings of micro-LED lights.
It’s also possible to use cluster lights, which are like the ones you would use when decorating a Christmas tree indoors. This will create a mass of light and become something of a feature.
These cluster lights consist of micro-LED bulbs and will create a tinsel effect to create a bright and frosty crystal look that will impress.
This YouTube video highlights the preparations necessary to light an outdoor Christmas tree successfully.
It’s also possible to use traditional icicle lights, and there’s a manufacturer called Premier who produce LED Treebrights that are vivid and bright lights available in either plain white or warm white.
They offer a lovely effect and may be a good idea on branches, for example.
This will create an interesting aspect to an outdoor Christmas tree, and you can get these Treebrights in various sets and even 1,500 LED bulbs on a cable with a lit length of 37.5 metres.
Another great solution when decorating an outdoor tree for Christmas is to consider rope lights.
These are a great and flexible idea for wrapping around tree trunks and branches, as well as fences and other nearby items.
You can buy festive rope lights that are battery powered, as well as remote controlled with a dimmable feature.
For example, a 33-inch multi-coloured LED rope light that is dimmable and with remote control can be obtained cheaply online.
We also like the battery-operated snowflake string lights that bring a festive look, particularly in warm white and are available from various online Christmas light retailers.
Another novel idea when decorating an outside tree is to consider solar-powered Christmas star lights.
These are novel and unusual star-shaped string lights, and you could combine 30 of these, place them around your tree or branches and forget about them since they are solar-powered.
More importantly, these star string lights are also good for using around the year – so you won’t have to take them down!
In the same vein, you could consider solar powered copper wire fairy lights for use outside, because when the sun goes down, these fairy lights will then light up your tree or bushes automatically. They aren’t as bright as powered cluster lights, but they may add a twinkle to a small tree in the evening before the power runs out!
Outdoor Christmas tree light ideas from online retailers
Having discussed the various outdoor Christmas lights that are available, we could look more specifically at what retailers offer.
That’s because you could spend hours researching various online Christmas light retailers before you become accustomed to the Christmas light styles, as well as the various decorations.
If you are looking for Christmas lights for wrapping a tree, you could use wide-angle 5mm LED mini lights that would bring an intense and festive shine to a tree.
Indeed, most mini lights should work when wrapping a tree.
The most popular lights for tree wrapping tend to be C7 bulbs that are about 1.5 inches tall – there are also C9 bulbs that are 2.25 inches tall.
For a more uniform look when wrapping tree trunks or bushes, you could look for specific trunk wrap lights or even ‘net lights’ which are easy to affix to a tree trunk.
These net lights are sometimes referred to as ‘tree wraps’ and are available in warm white, cool white and multicoloured LED stretch nets.
If you want to hang lights from tree branches, for example, you could consider:
- Starburst lit branches
These are very attractive lights to use at Christmas. They look like exploding fireworks among the branches and are available in gold, silver and red. They aren’t cheap to buy – but they are impressive!
- Christmas light balls
These are starry and impressive creations and come in a range of colours including clear, warm white, red. There are also much larger commercial light balls available, as well as tinsel light balls. We also quite like the LED fairy Christmas light balls which are available in red and multicoloured products.
Christmas star decorations
As the name suggests, it is possible to buy a range of different Christmas star decoration designs. They range from 3D to metallic and flashing star lights, but they are rated for outdoor use and if you have a Christmas tree you want to use from last year, you can also use a Christmas tree topper for it.
Flexible neon rope lights are also available in the shape of stars, as are star string lights.
How to wrap a tree in Christmas lights
There’s no doubt that wrapping a tree, or more than one tree, in Christmas lights is a great and effective way to create a festive outdoor display.
Firstly, you need to decide how many lights you will need for wrapping your tree, whether you will just wrap the trunk or include the branches as well. You will need to:
- Measure the tree trunk’s circumference
- Measure any branches you want to wrap with lights
- Decide how much space between each lightbulb there will be on a string
- Decide how far apart these light strings will be.
It may be, for example, that you decide to use lights that have a 6-inch bulb spacing when wrapping a tree trunk or branches in festive lights. This will create the density of small lights to make your tree stand out.
How to wrap a tree in festive lights
Firstly, not every branch will need to be wrapped in lights, and you could select just a few to distribute the Christmas lights you want.
As with an indoor Christmas tree, you need to decide how intense the coverage of the lights will be and whether you will place strings of LED lights close together or have them further apart. You will need to:
- Plug each of your festive light strings in before adding them to a tree to ensure they work
- Wind each of them into a ball shape which will save time (and stress!) when wrapping the tree
- Start by passing a ball of lights around the tree trunk and keep the tension tight
- When the end of the first ring around the trunk has been reached, you need to plug the next set of lights in and continue from where that ends
- Secure the final string by using either a cable tie or wrapping it tightly to a branch.
How to wrap tree trunks in outdoor Christmas lights
Essentially, you will be following the steps given previously when wrapping a tree trunk with a string of festive lights.
This will enable you to control the finished look of the wrapped trees so you can customise the space between each wrap and the light colours, as well as the style of light strings.
When you use string lights, you can wrap higher up into the tree and also along the smaller or lower branches to create an impressive effect.
Remember though that wrapping a tree trunk can be an expensive investment and take quite some time to create the impressive result.
One great and effective way to wrap a tree trunk in Christmas lights is to use specific netting that has been designed for this purpose.
You can get netting for trees with a trunk circumference of up to 26 inches, 37 inches and up to 52 inches.
The light netting is available in a range of colours, including warm and cool white, multicoloured, blue as well as green and red. These tree trunk light nettings are also reasonably cheap.
There is one big consideration between using string lights and netting – and that’s the finished look.
While string lights offer a more dense or clustered appearance of lights, using netting gives a more uniform look to how the lights sit on the tree trunk itself.
However, some people may prefer the variations that occur when wrapping tree lights around the trunk by hand, compared with using netting.
Choosing lights for evergreens
While evergreens are great trees to have in a garden around the year because they always look great, you can decorate these trees effectively when buying outdoor Christmas tree lights online.
After all, the Christmas trees that we use indoors are the same pine, spruce and firs that you may have in your garden.
Again, you’ll need to decide what type of bulb you want – though LEDs will be best – how many light strings will be needed, and whether you’re going to use mains or battery power.
Buy outdoor Christmas tree decorations
Finally, it’s also worth mentioning that while you can combine lights to cover extensively any tree trunks and branches that you want to decorate, you can also create more fun with various festive decorations.
Along with using light strings that have various bold colours, you can also add:
- Starlight spheres
- Starlight decorations
- Cascade tubes with falling LED lights
- Novelty light creations – such as a ‘waving’ snowman.
For those who have large gardens and trees, these decorations when combined with the light strings that have been placed around trunks and branches will create a festive and impressive winter wonderland.
Buying outdoor Christmas tree lights online
There’s no doubt that when buying outdoor Christmas tree lights online, you need to prepare and understand what your finished festive tree light display will look like. You also need to ensure you buy quality outdoor lights from retailers that conform to UK safety standards.