Christmas lights on branches

How To Light Up Christmas

Christmas lights bring a touch of magic to your home and garden

Choosing Christmas lights can be a minefield, but hopefully this article will make it a little easier. If you come into the store ask our expert Tony for advice; he has several years’ experience and knows everything about lights. In recent years the choice has exploded into every light combination imaginable for illuminating both inside and outside. The good news is they are safer and cheaper to run than ever before.

Lighting Christmas trees began in the 17th century by fastening candles onto tree branches. The candles were placed in holders around 1890 in order to cut down on the fire risk; they began to be placed in glass orbs and lanterns around the early 20th century. The first electric tree lights as we know them were used in New York in 1882. By the early 1900’s they were widely available in stores.

The novelty lighted figures are now usually made with LEDs, so they are robust, long lasting and you can cover the outside of the house and not have an enormous electricity bill.

If buying cluster lights just be aware that most of them have a large number of lights but only on a short length of wire. They look fantastic used on garlands and wreaths but are totally unsuitable for trees unless you are prepared to buy a lot of sets, in which case they can look stunning.

Filament lights

Filament Christmas lights

These are the old-fashioned type with replacable bulbs.
Pros: cheap to buy; bulbs are replacable
Cons: they are not suitable if there are children as they become hot and are therefore a fire and burn risk; they take a lot of electricity and are therefore costly to run; the bulbs are made of glass and shatter easily; if one blows they all go out and it can be difficult to find the culprit, especially if they are on a fully decorated tree

LED (light-emitting diode) lights

Pros: take around 90% less electricity than the filament type lights, so are therefore better for the environment; they are cold so are perfectly safe where there are children; they are maintenance free as most of them are non-replacable ‘bulbs’; if one goes out the rest of them carry on working; they last a long time, approximately 50,000 hours; they are not made of glass so don’t shatter easily; very bright
Cons: LEDs are initially more expensive, but you more than make this back by saving on the electricity bill

Long-life lights

Long-life christmas lights

Pros: use less electricity than the old filament type lights; cheaper to buy than the LED’s; if one goes out the rest of the string keeps working; maintenance free as most of the bulbs are non-replacable; they last for approximately 6,000 hours; the bulbs are hard plastic and therefore don’t shatter easily
Cons: cost more to run than LEDs; don’t last as long as LEDs; are not as bright as LEDs

If you need any help regarding buying Christmas lights please call Tony in the Christmas department at the store.

Angela Slater
Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas