Recently, a friend referred to me as “The Harbinger of Christmas Spirit,” and I’ve decided that’s my official title now. Please address mail accordingly.
*Moving on to the public service portion of this post: does everyone remember when I mentioned, about a year ago, my willingness to defend, at top-volume, the correct way to string lights on a tree? I was not making that up. That was a very real thing that happened one year when I was beyond frustrated with the fact that, no matter what I did, lighting the tree was the ugliest part. And I’m a glamour perfectionist, when I change out of my jammies and brush my hair, so it was really upsetting to me. The problem, for those who haven’t already encountered this same struggle (or who don’t realize they’re living it) is that the internet is chock full of stupid-ass tutorials that will tell you there are three ways to light a tree, five ways to light a tree, nine ways to light a tree, but every single damned way they show you basically involves looping the lights around the outside of the branches. Where you see the wires. Not only can you see the wires, but you get a really obvious line of lights. Not a magical effect.
The solution? To light every single branch individually, of course!
The first year I tried this method, it was a disaster. Not gonna lie. It took me days, I was pulling each strand straight down to the end and then sort of winding it back around and around the branch to hold it in place…. the result was over 1500 lights on a 6′ tree and you could see the damned thing before you could see our house. Planes tried to land on my roof. And still, 1500 lights in, I didn’t have quite enough to reach the top and tearfully told my husband we would need to go back out for more lights and he (sensibly, I’ll admit now) put his foot down and told me to find another solution because we were interfering with the daylight sensors on the streetlamps – the ones on the highway.
The next year, I’d had time to do some good thinkin’ – and I found this stuff:
Twist ties, on a roll, with a built in cutter.
So much excite.
Using this magical product (or whichever brand/version your local craft/fabric store carries) you too can have a tree that is, as one friend put it, fucking magnificent.
It’s really important to me that you understand I’m not the one who called it that. I mean, I know it’s the best tree ever, but I didn’t say that out loud – someone else did.
The pattern now becomes a simple down-and-back under the center of each branch. Very important that you run the lights right down the middle there, spanning out to side branches if you can but keeping it tight to a single center line always. This way the wires are not visible from most reasonable viewing angles. Observe:
You can see that, from below, the wires do form sort of a hot mess. But that’s okay, because the only times anyone will be under the tree (opening gifts or having sex – everyone does that, right?) they’re not going to be paying attention to the wire configuration. Also, turning the lights on really helps to disguise even from that angle, especially if you’ve got a complicated or “random” pattern going. I use 16-function lights because I can complicate the shit out of anything.
Additional advice: be liberal with your use of the twist ties – sagging wires are not magical. You’ll get a feel for it and be able to work faster and faster as you go, but that first year and that first strand or two are going to feel like you’ve taken on a Sisyphean task. Put on some Christmas music and promise yourself a hot buttered rum when you’re done. Or just use the time to mentally prepare your humble response to the effusive praise you will receive for having the most beautiful tree your friends and family have ever seen.
(Bonus photos, because I’m so thrilled with this year’s tree I can’t help it)
*Missing the actual conversations part of this blog? Don’t worry, I’ve got some of that coming. But, you see, the tree thing was a genuine public service issue and I needed to get this information out there. To you! And it took up a lot of my brainspace, because this is not my usual sort of thing. But now that I’ve done it, we’ll get right back to the ridiculous things he says and how heroically I put up with them. Honest.