Which Christmas Lights Should I Buy and Why?

With so many new types of Christmas lights, read our guide to the best ones to choose when decorating your home and garden this Christmas.

With the addition of LED technology, Christmas lights and light up decorations have never been so abundant, with nearly every single decoration that you could think of now being able to be lit up with the use of LED lighting. We are definitely spoilt for choice when it comes to filling our homes with dazzling decorations that will continue to sparkle throughout the festivities. It also means that decorating the outside of your home has never been so cost-effective or easy to accomplish,  you can create a spectacle that will be the envy of your neighbours, a stunning show to brighten the bleakest mid-winter, all for a lot cheaper than it used to be just a few years ago.

With so much to choose from and so many new types of Christmas lights available, read up on our handy guide to Christmas lights and the best ones to suit you and your home this Christmas.

Different types of Christmas lighting

LED's - Now the most common and well-known type of lighting, LED's bring a flash of brilliance to Christmas that traditional bulbs just couldn't. Vivid and crisply colourful, LED's can decorate large areas of your house and garden with minimal expense when compared to previous lighting types back in the day. They're more vibrant, last longer (with an average lifespan of 50,000 hours when on), use a lot less electricity and can be purchased in even longer sets, some stretching up to a whopping 3000 LED's just on one set. Now used for string lights, fairy lights, icicle lights and cluster lights instead of the old filament-style bulbs.

Faux Filament Bulbs - Original filament bulbs and their greedy globes of coloured light have been a very visible part of Christmas for so long, but have had their day. However, traditionally shaped bulbs and decorations can still form part of your display, as outwardly these lights look the same as those your dad hung around the tree or in the garden, but on the inside but they are now lit by brighter and more energy-efficient LED's.

They are very energy efficient consuming up to 90% less power than conventional light bulbs. They last much longer, emit less heat which is so important when used in the home, and if one does fail, all the rest stay on. This means that you have a much brighter Christmas and save money on energy while benefiting the environment, not a bad result.

Fibre Optics - Very big in the '90s, you'll most likely remember a rainbow-coloured Christmas tree in the living room with all those white strands of fibre sticking out of the tips of the trees. These are made by flexible, transparent glass fibres, very thin strands that transmit light from one end to the other, and can be used to great effect for Christmas decorations. They allow artificial Christmas trees and ornaments to shimmer with subtle and soft changing colours producing a magical effect, although are a diminishing technology now that LED is able to do the same job for a lot less electric!

Lasers - Fantastic party effects can be achieved by lasers both inside the home and in the garden, and with smart technology, these can be linked to Bluetooth speakers to synchronize sound. Operating on low voltage, the lasers are very safe and can project animated and very colourful patterns on the outside or indoor walls.

Different types of Christmas lighting

Power sources for Christmas lights

Battery Operated - Due to the advancements in LED technology, Christmas light sets these days, especially sets of up to 200 bulbs can easily be powered by batteries instead of a mains plug. Some battery-operated sets like the battery time lights even boast to be able to last up to 30 days when used every day for 6-hours straight - that means only one set of batteries for the whole Christmas period!

Mains Powered - Mains electricity is used by most light sets above 200 LED's and for those outdoor Christmas figures that light up the neighbourhood during the colder winter nights. However, just because it's mains powered does mean to say that it'll be energy hungry! As long as the light set uses LED bulbs, then it'll still only use a small amount of electricity, meaning brighter Christmases for you with barely any impact on the electricity bill!

Christmas lights for trees

It's never been so easy to decorate a Christmas tree with lights, and in 2023 it's even simpler. Specially designed light sets are now available made specifically for your tree height, starting from the top down these TREEBrights. TREEBrights boast 4x the amount of lights per metre (2.5cm between each) compared to regular light set, plus you get a similar style and look as cluster lights with more bulbs being clustered together.

Spaced out perfectly, these light sets give you enough cable to dress a standard size 6ft, 7ft or 8ft Christmas tree with just one set of lights. Plus, due to there being more lights on the string closer together, your Christmas tree will be more vivid, brighter and Christmassy than ever, and it only takes a few minutes!

For a tree of up to 7ft tall, we recommend a set of 1000 or 15000 lights to decorate your tree with. The great thing about the Christmas lights at World of Christmas is that the majority of light sets we offer are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, so you could alternatively dress a tree or bush outdoors rather than an indoor Christmas tree, or use them differently one year to decorate the outside of your home, along with the guttering for example.

To maximise your Christmas tree, especially for 7ft+ heights, sets of 3000 cluster lights are recommended for maximum illumination. Available in vintage gold boasts a bountiful array of LED's to decorate with. The dark green cable effortlessly blends in with natural green-looking branches, while the elegant glow brings a touch of class and elegance that would be even more vivid when matched with similarly traditional baubles and decorations.

Christmas lights for trees

Christmas lights to decorate inside the home

Normal string lights and icicle lights can be used to dangle from a ceiling, around a room or in a window so that they can be seen from both inside and outside your home. This isn't a new thing to do and most likely a tradition you've partaken in for many past Christmases.

Glitter lanterns, however, are quite new to the Christmas scene and are fast becoming a firm favourite with those who prefer both traditional and modern decorations as they mix technology with traditional designs and scenes. 

These lanterns are filled with a clear gel and a little magical glitter, in fact, plenty of glitter. A small, hidden electric fan at the base blows the glitter up to the top of the lantern and it cascades slowly back down floating inside, swirling around the inside of the lantern until it gets blown back up again. The glittering snow never seems to stop. Even more mesmerising are the reflections from the glitter as the light cast integrated LED beams through the inside of the lantern, ever reflecting from one piece of glitter to the next.

Table and fireplace lights are also a way to show off and to unleash your decorating skills. Whether they're lights to drape over the dining table to illuminate Christmas dinner, or to envelope the fireplace to keep the area lit with life even when the fire isn't on, the Christmas tree doesn't have to be the only thing to light up over the festive season, so get decorating and lighting wherever you can!

For your front window and mantelpiece, there's a large selection of both contemporary and traditional welcome lights and candlesticks. Delightful bridge lights come in many forms and will welcome visitors at this special time of the year. There are wooden and metal versions, elaborate or minimalist and, unlike real candles, the LED flames are completely safe. There are also exquisite alpine scene silhouettes, expertly crafted using fret cut wood and warm white LED lighting, and these contrast with more humorous novelty window decorations.

Indoor light sets in various shapes and styles including silver beads, stars, metal balls and copper flowers, can be placed around the house as vivid decorations. Christmas table and mantelpiece lights can be beautiful confections of silver and gold ornaments together with candles with dancing flames, garlands and lanterns. Captivating effects can be achieved from any of these along with a touch of decorating flair.

Christmas lights to decorate inside the home

Christmas lights to decorate the front of your home

For the traditional, less flashy feel, whether draped over or inside a porch, attached to the roof, on trees or along the path, festoon lighting is a wonderfully bright and colourful way to welcome guests. Copying the look of a normal house light bulb, these festoon bulbs are great to portray that old-fashioned look, however inside they are lit by LED's rather than traditional energy-wasting filaments, making them a low energy-use option that still looks great.

To maximise their traditionalist look, festoon likes are a great choice. Classically shaped and redolent of yesteryear, these lights may use less energy but that doesn't diminish their impact.

For those with bigger front gardens and to decorate trees, shrubs and other outdoor features, there's an abundance of low voltage outdoor Christmas lights that would suit almost any setting. Standard fairy lights, star lights, cherry lights in red, white and purple, or strings of micro yet vivid multi-function and coloured LED's. Cluster lights, similarly advised to decorate Christmas trees indoors above are another fabulous way to introduce masses of light. If you gaze at the millions of stars on a clear night, that’s the effect cluster lights have. Very small micro LED's create a tinsel effect that smothers everything with a frosty crystal brightness.

Icicle lights are among the most popular Christmas decorations as these frozen crystals hanging from rooftops and guttering are integral to what we perceive as a 'proper' winter.

There are even some fabulous opportunities to turn your garden into a very colourful, bright and welcoming place throughout the Christmas period. Whether you're looking to go for a dramatic hi-tech light show or something more restrained, there’s an outstanding selection of lighting and ornaments to choose from at the World of Christmas shop. Even the most modest house can be turned into an icy evocation of a wintery scene, making it a preferred destination for Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve.

Even the most traditional wreaths and garlands that decorate front doors throughout the country haven’t escaped a makeover. They have been given impetus with mains or battery-powered LED's illuminating their pine cones, foliage and berries. Whilst illuminated Christmas characters including iconic personalities such as Santa Claus and the animals that we associate with this festive time of the year – polar bears and penguins - can populate your garden, delightful depictions that will enchant all your guests.

There are cheerful snowmen with blue buttons and carrot noses in a number of poses, posting cards, ringing bells, ski-ing and sweeping snow. Father Christmas is pictured driving a steam train full of presents, with a sack on his back or just waving at passers-by. Reindeer look particularly elegant in ice white acrylic, their sparkling filigree bodies pictured prancing, grazing and at rest. Although there's no guarantee he'll take any notice, other novelty items include a 'Santa Stop Here' sign.

Christmas lights to decorate the front of your home

What are Christmas cluster lights?

The name is on the tin, so to speak, as this type of LED Christmas lights utilises bunches, or 'clusters' of closely grouped bulbs that are held away from the main string to form a garland of lights, closely packed to increase their numbers, sparkle and illumination, with more bulbs per length of wire than traditionally used.

You do not need, or want miles of cable wrapped around the tree that produces lots of plastic cabling with minimal effect. What you need is an elegant swath of lights that has an immediate impact and is easy to drape on even the largest tree - and that is a set of Cluster lights.

What's the difference between cluster lights and fairy lights?

Fairy lights are the common name for a set of string lights used at Christmas. Usually provided in a multi-colored set, or white. Fairy lights have their main wire string, with a single bulb attached to it, spaced out around every 20cm - 30cm or so. This would mean that a set of fairy lights can have around 20 - 400 bulbs per light set, depending on the chosen length.

However, with cluster lights it's all about more bulbs per length. Instead of one single light bulb every 20cm - 30cm, you'll find a whole bunch within close proximity of each other, in a 'cluster'. This means that a set of cluster lights can range from 1000 to 3000 bulbs per light set, a massive increase compared to a set of fairy lights! The clustered lights help to give a much more vivid, sparkle effect when dressing a tree or the outside of your home, giving that extra touch of Christmas spirit during the festive period, and offering an amazing display of illuminated colour.

What is the difference between fairy lights and cluster lights?

The easiest way to put cluster lights on a Christmas tree

Starting at the top you wind the lights around the outside of the tree slowly descending in a helter-skelter style. To achieve this you will need to have access all around the tree and preferably with a second person that you can pass the lights too if space behind the tree is tight. You can wrap the cluster lights up in a ball as you pass them behind as they really don’t tangle easily.

As you go from one branch to the next you can allow the cluster lights to slightly drop down in an arc to create a softer swag effect. If you like this idea you will probably need a few twisty ties at the ends of the branches so the clusters do not slip off. Ideally, your lights will finish when you have dressed the whole tree and better still if they finish at the back of the tree too. This can be tricky but you will get a good idea as the lights start to unfurl as the how tight you can space them. Cluster lights are certainly going to be shorter than traditional string lights though.

Suitable for use all around the home

And you can use cluster lights on the outside of your house as well, as they are generally manufactured for use outdoors as well as indoors. And this opens up a whole new range of uses. Do you want to decorate the outside of your house quickly and effectively? Cluster lights will certainly do that too.

We feel cluster lights are the answer to everyone's Christmas Tree lighting nightmare so why not try them and see for yourself. 

Wrapping up

All in all, it's never been a better or cheaper time to make the most of Christmas and all of the light-up fun you can have throughout the season, especially during unprecedented events that we've all had to go through this year.

But I'm sure that Christmas time will be a winner for everyone and our Christmas lights at World of Christmas will no doubt bring joy and light to your home and garden.

~ The World of Christmas Team