Best Christmas Tree Lights of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

Is it time to buy new holiday lights? We've got you covered.

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

Fhm Best Christmas Tree Lights Of 2023KATHLEEN PURVIS FOR FAMILY HANDYMAN

What’s Christmas without lots of lights strung from the eaves or wrapped around a Christmas tree? We’ve come a long way from attaching real candles to Christmas trees. From battery-operated strands that are easy to use (even if there’s no outlet nearby) to multicolored strings with special effects from flashing to fading, Christmas tree lights have more choices than ever before. Knowing which Christmas tree lights to choose can be difficult, but we’re here to help.

We compared customer reviews, price points and lighting longevity when selecting the best Christmas tree lights. All of our choices are safe to use both indoors and outdoors, and most use LED bulbs for the most efficient use of energy. So, without further ado, here are some of the best holiday lights this year.

1 / 7

FHM We Tried It Mzd8391 Led Multi Color Lights
Kathleen Purvis for Family Handyman

Best Overall

MZD8391 LED Multi-Color Lights

With 300 twinkly lights covering 108 feet, these multi-color lights provide a lot of bang for your decorating buck. The yellow, red, green and blue lights have eight modes you can set, from flashing in different colors to twinkling in all the colors at once. Plus, you can connect four strings with a generous 6.5 feet from the plug to the first light. This is why this is one of the best Christmas tree lights this holiday season.

“The lights can be customized with a wide range of colors, from warm white to multicolor, and they feature eight different lighting modes including steady, slow fade, twinkle, and more,” five-star reviewer Bishal explains. “The remote control included in the package ensures that I can easily control the lights’ function right from my couch! The quality of these string lights is fantastic. The lights are also energy-efficient and do not produce any heat, allowing for safe and prolonged usage.”

Pros

  • 8 lighting modes
  • Includes memory setting
  • 300 multi-colored LED lights on a 105-foot strand
  • Safe for indoor or outdoor use
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • There’s no dimmer setting, and no “off” setting other than unplugging it

Shop Now

2 / 7

FHM We Tried It Prextex Warm White Twinkle Lights
Kathleen Purvis for Family Handyman

Best Budget

Prextex Warm White Twinkle Lights

If you’re looking to save money on your holiday lighting, these warm lights are for you. With 100 lights on almost 20 feet of wire, this inexpensive twinkle set is rated for up to 2,200 hours. The color is very bright, and you can attach up to five sets, which is enough to cover a 6-foot tree. It comes with two spare bulbs, two red bulbs to transform them into blinkers and two spare fuses.

“The lights arrived very well packed, new and at the scheduled time,” reviewer Alex explained. “They are the perfect size that I was looking for to replace my old lights on a small Christmas tree. They give adequate light that allows me to clearly see the ornaments of the tree.”

Pros

  • Reasonably priced for the coverage
  • Flasher bulb for twinkle effect
  • UL-certified for indoor and outdoor use
  • 12 inches from the plug to the first light

Cons

  • The green wire is a little heavy and harder to hide in the tree
  • Incandescent bulbs

Shop Now

3 / 7

FHM We Tried It Pms Led Fairy String Lights
Kathleen Purvis for Family Handyman

Best Fairy Style

PMS LED Fairy String Lights

With a warm white color, these LED Christmas lights can brighten up a tree or mantel with options from 100 to 1,000 lights. The stay-cool bulbs are energy-efficient and safe for indoor and outdoor use. The two-strand black wire is one of the slimmest we’ve seen and easy to hide within a green tree. I like that there is less than 10 feet from the plug to the first light. Bonus: The transformer plug has eight modes and a built-in timer (six hours on, 18 off), and stays on your last setting when you plug it back in.

“We live in a log cabin and keep lights on our loft railing year round,” reviewer Kari explains. “In 4 years we have been through too many “traditional” Christmas lights to count. I searched the internet for a set of warm LED lights for a couple of months before finally landing on these. I wanted the longevity and efficientcy of LED, but warmth is also a top priority. The color is exactly what we wanted and unwinding them was super easy.”

Pros

  • 8 modes, from waves to slow glow
  • Indoor/outdoor use
  • The slender black two-strand wire is easy to hide in the branches of a green tree
  • Automatic timer
  • LED bulbs have 30,000 hours lifespan

Cons

  • Can’t attach additional strands

Shop Now

4 / 7

FHM We Tried It Holiday Essence Led Mini Lights
Kathleen Purvis for Family Handyman

Most Energy Efficient

Holiday Essence LED Mini Lights

These stay-cool bulbs promise to last an average of 25,000 hours, or three years of daily use, and use LED to save on energy costs compared to incandescent bulbs. The plastic bulbs resist fading, scratching and breakage. With 60 lights on a 16-foot strand, you’d need ten strands for a 6-foot tree.

“Love these Christmas lights – we have a small artificial tree we get out each year but the lights that came with it were mostly burned out,” reviewer Thomas explains. “We have a dark corner in our living room and the multi-colored lights brightened it up with pleasant colors.”

Pros

  • 25,000-hour average bulb life
  • UL-certified bulbs are kid-friendly
  • Safe for indoor/outdoor use
  • Includes one spare fuse and two spare bulbs
  • Can attach up to 30 strands

Cons

  • Even at 16 feet, you’ll probably need multiple strands to cover all but the smallest trees

Shop Now

5 / 7

FHM We Tried It Koopower String Lights With Timer
Kathleen Purvis for Family Handyman

Best Battery Operated

Koopower String Lights with Timer

Say goodbye to extension cords! With these lights, your best friend for holiday decorating is a battery pack. The flexible silvery cord on these 130 LED warm-white Koopower string lights would be hard to hide in a green tree, but it’s perfect for wreaths, mantels and banisters. Promising 120 hours of battery life from three AA batteries, the lights can be set on eight modes and will reset to the previous mode when it turns back on. Sounds like smart lights to us!

“First of all the lights were exactly what I wanted – a small set of miniature, warm colored (yellowish) lights that are battery operated – so no long extension cords needed,” a reviewer on Amazon explained. “What I didn’t expect was how perfectly the timer operation works. I turned the timer function on and then started the lights on my wreath and mantle when the inside lights went on and lo and behold they also went off when all of the other lights went off.”

Pros

  • Battery-powered with a set-and-forget function
  • Long 45-foot strand for wrapping and draping flexibility
  • Eco-friendly cardboard packaging
  • Automatic timer (6 hours on, 18 off)
  • Waterproof for indoor/outdoor use

Cons

  • No remote

Shop Now

6 / 7

FHM We Tried It Twinkle Star Led String Lights
Kathleen Purvis for Family Handyman

Best Decorated

Twinkle Star LED String Lights

The holiday season deserves something special, and these Twinkle Star string lights answer that desire with 100 clear plastic stars over LED twinkle lights. You can set it for eight effects, including blinking, fading and flashing. Each star is about 1 inch, with 4 inches between each one. The clear wire is easier to mix into decorating schemes, and it comes with an adapter so you can string together up to four strands.

“These hooked right into the LED string lights I purchased,” reviewer Kate explained. “They synced immediately to the pattern I chose. Great addition to my Christmas lights!”

Pros

  • Unique star-shaped string light design
  • Setting stays when you restart the lights
  • LED lights use less energy, saving on electricity costs
  • Waterproof for indoor/outdoor use

Cons

  • No remote or automatic timer

Shop Now

7 / 7

FHM We Tried It Noma C9 Diamond Cut Faceted String Lights
Kathleen Purvis for Family Handyman

Best C9 Style

Noma C9 Diamond-Cut Faceted String Lights

If your holiday tastes run more to Grinch green or evergreen forests, this string of 25 C9 bulbs may be just the touch you need: Each light is covered with a 2-inch-tall green plastic diamond-cut faceted prism. Although the 16.8-foot strand won’t cover a whole tree, there are plugs at both ends, so you can string together up to 90 strands. The LED lights are Energy Star-rated and are covered by a three-year limited warranty if they need to be repaired or replaced.

Pros

  • Unique diamond-cut faceted C9 bulbs
  • Each bulb has a clip for attaching to eaves or tree limbs
  • Safe for indoor/outdoor use
  • Includes two fuses and two spare bulbs
  • Can connect up to 90 strands

Cons

  • Pricey compared to other lights
  • No remote, special effects or timer

Shop Now


What to Look for in Christmas Tree Lights

Prices vary widely for an unusual look. Most of our choices are LED (light-emitting diodes), which are more energy-efficient and stay cool to the touch, so they’re safer than incandescent bulbs, especially around children or on live trees. Brightness can range from strands rated “ultra-bright,” which are usually a blue-white, to “warm white,” which has a look similar to the yellow glow of candlelight.

While twinkle-style lights have simple bulb shapes, from blunt to tapered, you can also find special shapes, such as pine cones and stars. Many strands offer up to eight special effects—such as blinking, fading and waves—controlled by a transformer built into the plug. A few have automatic timers (the lights go on at the same time every day and stay on for six hours). Depending on the price, many also come with options that include remote controls and dimmers.

Why You Should Trust Us

As a long-time journalist, I have more than 30 years of testing products and appliances aimed at consumers. I’ve also been decorating Christmas trees of my own since 1982, including longtime use of incandescent bulbs and bubble lights. The Christmas tree lights on this list were tested at my home on a 5-foot artificial tree from Balsam Hill.

How We Found the Best Christmas Tree Lights

To choose the lights we tested for this article, we looked for the highest number of favorable ratings from consumers and considered both the positive and negative comments from people who have purchased them. I then used them on my own tree, looking for ease of use, features like special effects and automatic timers and checked manufacturers’ recommendations on battery or bulb life and energy usage.

FAQ

What are the best Christmas tree lights that last the longest?

While incandescent lights are less expensive, today’s LED lights last much longer and use less electricity, balancing their cost with longevity and energy savings. Most LEDs can last for hundreds and even up to thousands of hours of use without burning out.

How many lights do I need for a 7 foot tree?

In general, you need 100 to 200 small lights for every 1 foot of vertical height. For a 7-foot-tall tree, you’d need 700 to 1,400 lights. That can vary, though, based on how long each strand is and how much space there is between each light. Another consideration is the length from the plug or battery pack to the first bulb. If you’re stringing together multiple strands, you might want a shorter distance to reduce gaps between the light strands, while a longer length at the end of the bottom-most strand will make it easier to reach an outlet.

The number of light strands also depends on how you wrap your lights—horizontally around the tree, or vertically, as many professional decorators do. This zig-zag hack may bring the brightest look to your tree.

Kathleen Purvis
Kathleen Purvis is a journalist with more than 40 years of experience in consumer reporting and product testing. She's a freelance writer based in Charlotte, NC, where she’s spent more than 20 years restoring, maintaining and landscaping a vintage mid-century modern home. Now an empty nester, her next project will be downsizing and remodeling a home for aging in place. Her work appears in many magazines, including Southern Living, Our State, Garden & Gun and Imbibe.