There are, after all, a few different techniques out there.

Odds are, you’ve been stringing lights onto your Christmas tree every year for as long as you can remember. The age-old decorating tradition is loads of fun for little kids and adults alike, and it’s always been a sweet, memorable way for families to introduce their kids to the holiday.

But have you ever wondered how to hang Christmas lights—and whether you’re actually going about the whole thing the right way? Believe it or not, there are a few different techniques out there, and they’ve caused many people to question their own abilities. Online and off, questions abound: Do you hang Christmas tree lights horizontally or vertically? Do you go top-to-bottom, or bottom-to-top?

Before you start doubting your stringing skills though, we’ve got good news: There really is no right or wrong answer. If your method of outfitting tree suits you, stick with it—you’ve got no reason to change!

Still, it never hurts to try something new, which is one reason why we’re sharing our own tried-and-true Christmas light techniques with you right here. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find an even more efficient way to tackle the annual task.


Hanging Christmas lights horizontally is the most widely-used technique when it comes to decorating the tree. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but if this is your first time hanging lights, you’ll want to follow our directions:

  1. First, before you decorate, plug each set of lights in to make sure all the bulbs are working. (This will save you a lot of stress later.)
  2. Starting at the top or bottom of your tree (depending solely on preference), wrap the lights over and under the branches of the tree.
  3. You can mix things up by placing some lights “deeper” into the tree than others, and by alternating the patterns so that it looks more organic. Get creative with it, and have fun!


Designer Francesco Bilotto swears by a vertical approach, which is a trend that started circulating a couple years ago. As Bilotto told House Beautiful, this method ensures that the tree shines brightly, since the lights are less likely to be covered up by other branches. It’s also a whole lot easier to take apart once the holiday’s over!

  1. Plug the lights in to make sure all the bulbs are working.
  2. Start with the plug-less end of your lights at the top or bottom of the tree (Bilotto, for what it’s worth, is a top-starter) and let the lights lay vertically like a seam.
  3. Each time you reach the top or bottom, turn the lights back the other way until you have a sideways “S” pattern around the whole tree.