The History of Christmas Lighting

People all over the world use them to decorate over the festive period, but why do we have Christmas lights and when did this tradition begin?

18th Century

The Christmas tree was first adopted in upper-class homes in Germany, where it was occasionally decorated with candles. Towards the end of the 18th century, candleholders, small lanterns and glass balls were used to display them.

19th Century

Christmas lights grew in popularity, starting in 1848 in the UK and spreading to the US (however, a bucket of water or sand had to be kept to hand as there was a high fire risk!). The first electric Christmas lights were introduced by Thomas Edison in 1880 while his partner Edward Johnson was the first to decorate his tree with them in 1882. Being difficult and expensive to generate, they were only really used by businesses while candles were still used in the majority of homes.

20th Century

In 1917, moved by a tragic fire caused by Christmas tree candles, teenager Albert Sadacca urged his parents, who had a novelty lighting business, to begin manufacturing affordable string lights. By the 1930s electric Christmas lights had become a standard part of festive decorating.

21th Century

Nowadays Christmas lights continue to evolve and are used in many places both indoors and out, for other occasions like Halloween and Easter and as a year-round decorative item.

Types of Christmas Lightings

Indoor / Outdoor

Our Christmas lights are suitable for use both indoors and out but bear in mind that the plug should always be kept inside. The wire is thin enough that it simply runs through a window or door.


White fairy lights are a versatile and classic option which can be used to add instant sparkle to any scheme — warm white lights are great for giving a golden glow.


For a more vibrant festive look, go for multi-coloured fairy lights which are great for making a bold statement.

Cluster Lights

Cluster lights have bulbs which sit at the end of individual strands coming off the main cable as opposed to ones which are spaced apart on a single string — they’re great for a filled-out, tinsel-esque effect.

LED Lights

All of our Christmas lights have LED bulbs which are energy-saving and cost-efficient to run.

How to use your lights

Safety First

Check if a string of lights is working before you start. Our modern LED lights should work every time but it’s always best to inspect for damaged cables and broken bulbs before you plug them in.

Where to Put Them

Christmas lights aren’t just for the tree or the front of your house; get creative and place them anywhere you fancy. Here are just a few fairy light ideas to get you started:

  • Wrap them around the bannister.
  • Drape them over your shelves or mantelpiece.
  • Place them inside bowls, jars or lanterns.
  • Wrap them around vases filled with festive flowers.
  • Make a feature of a photo or piece of artwork by draping lights over the top.
  • Hang them from the ceiling.
  • Use them to create a Christmas card holder.
  • Weave them through an outside tree or bush.
  • Lay them over or hang them above the dining table for a twinkling table setting.
  • Wrap around a mirror for a glamorous effect.
How to Store Christmas Lights

The best way to keep lights shining brightly year after year is to store them away properly when not in use. Keeping them away from water and free from tangles will save you a lot of future stress. Storing Christmas lights as they came in their original packaging is your best bet, but if you don’t have this to hand, try one of our DIY storage methods:

  1. The Cardboard Method

    Save some cardboard packaging from your Christmas presents and use it to make a rectangle of approximately 12x6 inches. Cut a notch on one side, hook one end of the lights into it and then wrap the lights around. See where the end of the cord is and cut another notch along the side of the cardboard to attach it before wrapping in tissue paper for extra protection.

  2. The Tube Method

    Polish off the last of the Pringles or Twiglets because these cans make for great Christmas light storage! Cut a slit in the top of the can, slip one end of the lights into it and then wrap the lights around the can, tucking the end into the same slit. Place the lid back on to prevent unravelling.

  3. The Cable Reel Method

    Using a cable reel is a great option for storing Christmas lights as you can keep several strings together. Simply insert the lights into it and wind slowly and carefully to avoid breakages.

  4. The Coat Hanger Method

    Wrap string lights around a sturdy coat hanger to keep them tangle-free. If you have a hanger with hooks on the bottom bar you can use these to anchor the ends before hanging the whole thing up for easy storage.

How many lights for your christmas tree

It can be a bit overwhelming deciding how many Christmas tree lights you need. It’s mostly down to personal preference but as a general rule, you want around 100 lights for every vertical foot of tree.

BG-Christmas Lighting How Many Table

Remember to take into account that if your tree is slim you will need less lights than if your tree is full and bushy.

Read the Christmas Tree Buying Guide
How to hang Christmas Lihts outside

Lining windows, porches and outdoor trees with twinkling lights is guaranteed to bring the festive spirit to your home. Take the stress out of the decorating and get ready to dazzle with our top tips (because failing to prepare is preparing to fail!).

  1. Choose a day when the weather is dry and mild for a safer and easier experience.
  2. Make sure you have a ladder and decorating clips or gutter hooks to hand.
  3. Decide where you want to put your lights; some good choices include along your roofline or porch or around door and window frames.
  4. Take measurements to work out how far your lights will reach from your plug socket, using an extension lead if necessary.
  5. Attach your decorating clips or gutter hooks, using one approximately every 12 inches.
  6. Plug the lights in but leave them switched off. Work backwards carefully from the socket, clipping the cable into the clips or hooks. Try not to tug too hard but also don’t leave any cables hanging down loosely. It can be helpful to have another person on the ground guiding you as you go.
  7. Work slowly around the area then use a clip or hook to secure the end of the string.
  8. Step back and look at your lights, checking that bulbs are evenly spaced and there are no drooping cables.
  9. When you’re happy with the spacing, you’re ready to switch them on and appreciate your hard work!
  10. Grab yourself a mince pie and some mulled wine; you’ve earned it.