Friday, December 05, 2014

Lights on a string

For years I've been lighting my tree the wrong way. That's about to change!

WE ALWAYS HEAD HOME to my folks for the holidays. We're big on Christmas and we long to be together. But we've been doing a lot of traveling this year, and it's been eventful to say the least. So for the first time in five years, we're spending Christmas and New Year in Manila. It's going to be a bit lonely all around. But I'm also a bit relieved that I don't have to subject myself and the kids to the stress of holiday travel. The traffic, the hauling, the flights in bad weather. And it means another thing too. I need to be serious about putting the tree up this year. So let's begin with the lights. This is a funny story...

I thought I'd light the tree up so it really glows. I fall hard for beautiful Christmas trees and a lot of that has to do with the lighting. The best ones have magical light. I thought that meant just filling the tree with lots of light. That is kind of true, but it's also about how the lights are strung on the tree. I looked at the techniques here and here. And I know I looked at other how-tos because I remember someone saying you should work in triangles. Jamon's been having this bad allergy around 3am for the last two days and I was seriously low on sleep so I was like work in triangles...WHAT. 

But I always learn something from the Internet. The result of this lighting technique is a tree with depth. Presenting my version of the summary:

Tree Lighting 101 
You will need about 100 lights per foot of tree. My artificial Spruce is 6 feet, and I ended up using 500 lights. So thereabouts. 

Make sure the lights work before you start. Turn them on while you work so you can see how they look on the tree. String the lights during the day in a well-lit room so you can see how the wires look on the branches too. 

Instead of wrapping the lights around the tree in one layer, WEAVE the string lights in and out of the branches instead. Start deep in the tree (the trunk), going up and down one side of each branch, then the other side, back to the trunk. Then move on to the next branch. 

Divide the tree into sections and work on one section at a time. 

Have some floral wire or any green flexible wire and cut to about 1-2 inch pieces. Use the wire to secure the string lights to the branches in difficult areas. I used about 40 pieces of wire and kept them in my pocket while I worked.

When stringing the lights, allow them some slack so the wires are relaxed. Don't string them too tightly on the branches, but also not too loosely so that they dangle. 

Lastly, listen to Reeve Carney's New For You. Perfect for tree lighting and other things.

I got both my arms in there. And half my face.

Lighting the tree took longer than I expected, and it took some practice. But I love how it looks naturally aglow, like it's got it's own galactic world in there.

String lights are one of my favorite things in the world. And Christmas trees. Growing up my Mom would make these genius trees from scratch. They were always so unique and memorable. I remember hanging out under them, the lights were kept on. And I felt like crawling in there, and getting lost.

In a good way.

Also, check out these remote control flameless candles, and these Aurora String Lights!

And thanks for reading.

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