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josie's avatar

Should you put ornaments on the Christmas tree with the lights on or with them off?

Asked by josie (27657points) November 23rd, 2012

Just wondered if there was an objective design principle involved or if it is just a matter of whim.

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23 Answers

Kayak8's avatar

Lights typically go on first as it is easier to add the ornaments after. If you do the ornaments first, their little hooks make adding the lights a real challenge . . .

harple's avatar

I agree with @Kayak8 – Lights go on first, because they’re on a continuous roll, and so would knock off decorations already placed. Also, you generally want to hide any really visible wiring for the lights. I know it’s usually green-coloured, but it can still be noticeable. Nice to put the lights on first, then add your ornaments and tinsel etc around them.

Sunny2's avatar

I read your question as “lit” or “unlit.” Obviously only “unlit” would be correct because lit lights get pretty hot to the touch. Also, putting the lights on after trimming the tree is something you would only do once!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I put the lights on with them off, turning them on occassionally to check the layout. Then I put the ornaments on with the lights off. After I get the rough outline worked up I turn the lights on and fine tune the ornaments.

PhiNotPi's avatar

I put the lights on first, and I usually test them before I put them on the tree. I turn them back off before putting them on the tree.

josie's avatar

Assuming we string up the lights first, the question should have read lit or unlit

gondwanalon's avatar

Whatever rattles your cage.

hearkat's avatar

I always put the lights on with them lit. That way I can check the placement (I like a string of white and a string of colors), it also allows me to notice any issues with bad bulbs or maybe frayed wires.

cookieman's avatar

1) Lights onto tree while lit
2) Ornaments next
3) Then garland or tinsel
4) Sweep floor around tree
5) Lay down tree skirt

JLeslie's avatar

Whether lit or not lit I would say ether way, personal preference, but I have never trimmed a tree with the lights on.

augustlan's avatar

Lights go on while lit, ornaments go on with the lights lit. I can better see where the ‘holes’ are that way, and fill them appropriately. Plus, it’s more festive!

glacial's avatar

I do both with the lights unlit – being that close to the bulbs for so long hurts my eyes. I’m sensitive to bright lights. :P

Once ornaments are up, I turn on the lights and assess, then make adjustments if need be.

Sunny2's avatar

We string the lights on the tree first. Then the ornaments. Then we turn the lights on and change the bulbs where they are not in balance (No clumps of one color in any area). Then we put on the tinsel and finally put the star on top. It’s always the best tree we ever had.

Jeruba's avatar

I plug in the lights so they’re lighted when we place them on the tree. That way we can see where they’re going and distribute them pretty evenly. I can also avoid arranging an entire light string only to find that it’s gone out or has dark bulbs.

The lights are the first thing that goes on the tree. They remain turned on for the rest of the process. I place certain ornaments where they’ll get a nice reflection.

The lights aren’t hot. They’re cool enough to touch. Hot lights would be risky because they’d be sitting on top of increasingly dry branches. I try to keep them away from the needles anyway, just as a precaution.

harple's avatar

Ah, in which case, having checked they work, they remain unlit until the whole tree is decorated – that way you get the great switch-on moment where it all comes together :-) Love that moment!

tedibear's avatar

I put the ornaments on with the lights on. The lights help me to find gaps and spaces for bigger ornaments, and it allows me to see the overall effect (affect? I never get that right!) as I’m hanging things.

glacial's avatar

@Jeruba I remember the lights my parents used when I was a child – those really did get hot! So yes, I’m careful about keeping them away from the needles, too, out of habit.

@tedibear You got it right the first time! “Effect” is a noun, “affect” is a verb. :)

Jeruba's avatar

@glacial, “effect” is also a verb, “to bring about”: “We’re working to effect a change in the law.”

glacial's avatar

@Jeruba Yes I know, but it is much less commonly used that way – and my feeling is that people who already have trouble distinguishing between the two words benefit from a simpler rule. Let them learn about “effect as a verb” after they’ve got the rest down.

Jeruba's avatar

Hmmm—and I’ve found during my editing career that those supposedly simple rules (e.g., “Place a comma where you would normally pause in speech”) end up causing people more confusion than they relieve.

glacial's avatar


Unbroken's avatar

@Jeruba People vary from longwinded bagpipers to chain smokers.

I would put the ornaments on first, the reasoning behind this is a prelit tree. Also works well when you are on a conserve electricity mode.

Kayak8's avatar

Just a quick holiday reminder that tinsel can be deadly to cats and other pets who find it interesting to eat . . . I never use tinsel . . .

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