The holiday season truly comes to life when you plug in the Christmas lights for a wondrous décor. It’s an exciting time of the year, but it’s equally difficult to pick the right lights for your home. Which style and size could best fit your home? Ask yourself a few basic questions starting with your holiday budget, the type of Christmas lights best suited for your display design, theme and your energy requirements.

Keeping all these considerations in mind, let’s look at the types of Christmas that you can choose from to create some of that holiday magic both inside and outside of your home.

1. Go for LED or incandescent lights

Before deciding whether you’ll go for LED or incandescent lights, it’s important to know their differences and also some of their pros and cons.

LED Christmas lights

As they’re a more recent invention, they come with a handful of perks:

  • They last longer ( up to 100,000 hours), which can save you a lot of energy.
  • They don’t produce heat, which makes them less likely to cause a fire.
  • They come in warm and cold-glowing colors.
  • They can be used both indoors and outdoors, but their intense brightness recommends them for outdoors use especially.
  • You can connect several light sets together, but make sure the combined wattage doesn’t go over 210 watts. You should also check the package for the wattage as different lights can amount to a different amount of watts.
  • They’re more expensive than incandescent bulbs, but it’s worth investing in them.

strings of LED Christmas lights

Incandescent lights

They are the most common type of lights used, named so due to the glow they give off when lit. Here are their most common features:

  • They’re less costly than LEDs.
  • They give off a warm glow that LEDs lack.
  • They require more energy.
  • They tend to last between two and six years.
  • The most common incandescent Christmas light today is the mini light bulb (the T1¾ bulb).
  • The first incandescent Christmas light bulbs had the shape of a tube and a cone (C style), or more recently referred to as “retro”.
  • Rice and microlights are the smallest and the narrowest type of bulbs, usually found on small wreaths and trees and in miniature decorations.

2. Pick Christmas lights by bulb size

There is a large selection of bulbs based on their size. Here are some of the most common ones:

The C-series

The original ones were the C-6, but you can also find the C5, the C7 and the C9. The C6 will help you bring back that retro look on trees or even on your porch columns when you wrap them around them. They will make a statement with an extra pop of color.

The C7 light is one of the most common ones. They come in a clear cone shape, with a screwable base called “candelabra” and brightness of around 5 watts. You should get these types of lights if you’re aiming for the old-fashioned Christmas look. The C7 bulbs are perfect for pathways — make sure to pick LEDs for outdoor displays, as these will be sure to create that magical Christmas atmosphere. The S14/T50LED or incandescent bulbs are also great to decorate the outdoors.

The C9 is the other most common C light. A little larger in diameter than the C7 (about an inch and a quarter in diameter), they have a brightness of around 7 watts. As they give off quite a lot of light, they’re used in outdoor strings and yard decorations, but can also adorn larger Christmas trees, dormers walkways, eaves and peaks of roofs.

The G-series

Globe lights (G) are another type of incandescent bulbs, which have a crystal appearance. They’re numbered to indicate their diameter in millimeters as such: G12 berry lights (12 mm – just under half an inch in diameter), G30 (over an inch in diameter) and G50 (two inches in diameter), which are perfect for outdoor Christmas party decorations, patios and smaller trees.

3. You can select from different styles of lights

Christmas lights come in various styles and shapes for every corner of your home. Here are some of the most common types of lights that you can incorporate into your décor:

Mini string lights

This type of light comes with small bulbs and have been popular for the past few decades. They have a sparkling glow that exudes warmth. They’re colored and can give your Christmas tree that ageless look. For medium lighting, you are going to need about 100 mini Christmas tree lights per foot, when looking vertically at a tree. In the case of dense evergreen trees, like pines, firs and spruce you may need to use more lights. Larger bulbs might be better suited for this type of greenery. Keep in mind that they use quite a lot of energy.


Microlights are just the smaller version of the mini string lights, They are designed for indoor use only. As they are low voltage and use less electricity than mini string lights, they can last up to 12,000 hours.

Chrismtas decorations with micro lights

Flameless candles

Flameless candles are another type of Christmas lights with a charm of their own. Put them on your windowsills or anywhere else in your home where you can add a little extra light.

Icicle lights

As their name suggests, icicle lights imitate icicles when hung with their small, lighted extensions. The drops hang down from anywhere from 5 – 30 inches each. They come in uneven length so that when hung up they don’t look even.

Net lights

Net lights can be easily placed over surfaces or shrubs to illuminate them. Since they’re already strung together, it’s easy to install them to help create that wondrous holiday atmosphere.

Rope lights

Rope lights are usually LEDs bulbs in clear sheaths trying to recreate the classic Christmas string lights. They can be used to adorn doorways, windows and walkways.


It’s easy to create a cozy Christmas ambiance with these lights for the outdoors. Originally from New Mexico, they are basically made out of paper bags which are weighted with sand. Inside, there’s usually a lit candle. They’re used to line paths and walkways or arranged in interesting patterns to light up the ground level.


Holiday-themed lanterns are another lighting solution that promises a little bit of vintage charm to your holiday ensemble.

Lighted trees and branches

If you want to take a simpler route to decorate your shrubbery for Christmas, go for the pre-lit trees and branches. They save the hassle of finding the right lights and they’re elegant.

outdoors Christmas lights

When trying to pick which string of lights will best suit your display, make sure you decide on the style that you’re going for. Is it retro or more modern? Start by picking a focal point. Then, place lights outside of that point to help bring your display together.

4. Find the right lights by the power source

Make sure you have a power plan in place before picking the right lighting scheme for your home. Think about how far into your yard you wish to extend your lights, and whether you are going to need extension cords. Here are some of the ways in which you can power up your lighting scheme:

Use an electric power supply

If you opt for this type of power supply for your Christmas lights, you need to make sure you have enough extension cords within reach of the outlet, especially for the more remote areas of your yard.

Consider battery-operated lights

Since no plug is necessary, battery-operated lights can be placed anywhere inside the home. They are best suited for décor that’s away from outlets, but you can also use them if you decide to wear a light-up costume.

Take advantage of solar-powered lights

They’re typically used for the outdoors and are a very efficient source of power. Connected to solar panels that can be grounded, solar-sourced Christmas lights use to turn on when it gets dark outside. They’re a little more expensive, but they save you energy in the long run. You should also know that they only come in cold LED coloring.

5. How many Christmas lights will you need?

It is up to you how many lights you want to put up, but there is a general rule that can help you out in this context: You need about 100 mini lights for every foot-and-a-half of the indoor tree. If you enjoy a generous Christmas lighting décor, you can always add more. Keep in mind that you can add fewer lights on thinner trees. Also, you should use large bulbs for pines, spruces and firs.

indoors Christmas lights

6. Plan on storing your lights after the holidays

Making a plan on how to approach your Christmas lights will prove itself useful to getting that dreamy décor you’ve been waiting for all year long. Make sure to also plan on how to store your lights when the holidays are over. Instead of cramming your home with all lighting display, you can put them in storage. Renting a 5×5 storage unit might be all that you need if you have fewer lights. If, however, you have a large house that was adorned with yards of Christmas lights, you’re better off looking into a 10×10 storage unit to make sure all your lights can comfortably fit. Besides, you can also store other household items such as clothing and even a small piece of furniture when you rent a unit of this size

Did we help you decide which kind of Christmas lights you are going to need for your home? Let us know in the comments section below.


Mirela is a real estate writer and lifestyle editor for Yardi. With an academic background in English and translation, Mirela now covers a range of topics including real estate trends, lifestyle and economy. Her previous experience in proofreading academic articles has inspired Mirela to choose a writing career path. In her free time, Mirela enjoys reading, but also hiking and creating art. You can contact Mirela via email.

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