From grand buildings adorned in festive illumination to the humble domestic Christmas tree, Christmas lights are an integral part of the holiday season, and it would be foolish for us not to take a look at their ever enduring appeal.
The Christmas tree concept that we’re all so familiar with can be traced back to the Yuletide traditions of mid 18th century German aristocracy, who would decorate their trees with small candles, hence the first Christmas or ‘Fairy’ lights were born.
It wasn’t long before the tradition spread to the rest of western civilisation, and by the 1880’s Sir Joseph Swan in the UK, and Edward H. Johnson in the USA, were some of the earliest pioneers of electric Christmas lights, and were quick to demonstrate their inventions to awestruck onlookers in London and New York.
By the 1950s electric lights had become standard in the average person’s home, and soon it was more than just Christmas trees that were decorated, with light strings hung around doorways, mirrors and staircases becoming popular Christmas decorations, as of course they still are to this day.
Why do we love Christmas lights?
Part of the role of the festive season is to bring joy to a time of year that could otherwise be seen as quite cold and gloomy, and what better way to add to the warmth and the spirit of Christmas than to light it up in the most fantastic and colourful way possible!
Whether you’re part of a street of neighbours who like to outdo each other in an annual display of lighting that covers your house and garden, or enjoy watching the lights get turned on in your local city centre, or even just love the tradition of decorating your Christmas tree with fairy lights, there is something for everyone when it comes to lighting up the holiday season.
These days technology has put to rest many of the headaches associated with Christmas lights, (a bulb blowing in a string of lights causing the whole lot to go out sound familiar?) thanks to shunts used in incandescent bulb strings keeping remaining bulbs illuminated should one fail. LED technology is now favourable over incandescent bulbs as they use about one tenth of the energy, which is great news for those concerned about coping with rising energy bills or and increased carbon footprint. However it should be noted that the initial purchase cost of LED light sets is likely to be greater than their incandescent equivalents.
If you aren’t already set this year, here are a few of our favourite Christmas lights to get you inspired!
Proxima Direct 12 Metre Fairy Lights
If you’re looking for a reliable set of white fairy lights then look no further than this set by Proxima Direct.
- 12 metre length. So many Christmas light strings on the market today are far too short for decorating all but the smallest of areas, with these however you’ll be able to make short work of decorating an entire room, or large Christmas tree if you choose to.
- 100 LEDs. It may be long, but don’t assume that means your illumination will be sparse. With each LED positioned just a few centimetres from the next, rest assured that this set of lights will be shining boldly above each part of every space that you hang them.
- IP44 (Sprayproof but NOT waterproof cable) means that accidental splashes won’t ruin these lights, but don’t think about putting them outside as they aren’t designed to cope with outdoor humidity
- LED technology is exceptionally bright, but also low voltage meaning these are much cheaper to run than traditional halogen bulbs
So there you have it, quality lights that emit a strong and bright light, and do it economically in the process. Also don’t forget, being white these lights lend themselves to being put to good use during a whole host of celebrations, not just Christmas.
Heart Shaped Light up Wreath
If you love Christmas and want to put a contemporary spin on your decorations then why not start things off with this elegant heart shaped wreath?
Smaller and more delicate than traditional wreaths, this is best suited for indoor use, perhaps fitted to the back of a bedroom door? Ten warm white LEDs give just the right amount of soft light, so you can keep it switched on all night without any risk of the light being too invasive. The pearls and beads that make up the rest of the structure give beautiful glistening effects when the light shines on them.
It’s powered by batteries so you won’t have to worry about leads trailing from plug sockets, and the cable and battery box are a clear colour to match the rest of the light. Hanging it from the supplied ribbon is the intended mounting method this wreath, so just make sure you consider this when deciding where to put it.
USB Christmas Tree
Who needs to be home for Christmas when you can enjoy it from the confines of the office? Sound good? No? Well ok then, perhaps that’s a step too far, but certainly in the run up to the holiday season it’s always good to be able to get into the spirit of things at work, and with that in mind, what better addition to your desk than this great little USB powered fibre optic Christmas tree? It’s not just for those with access to a computer either, there’s also the option to power with batteries, so take it out on the road with you in the van, or even just have it as another decoration at home.
Featuring a proper ‘wooden’ pot, multi coloured fibre optic lights, and even a set of decorations so you can enjoy all the excitement of decorating your Christmas tree on a small scale, customising it to suit your taste.
Light up Christmas village Ornament
Here is an ornament that embodies everything about the excitement of Christmas in an area the size of a laptop or tea tray. Not only is it really intricately detailed, with snow capped houses and trees, and people walking and skiing, but it’s also beautifully lit by a series of LED lights. The icing on the cake however, has to be the moving ice rink and slide with children tumbling down it, thanks to some ingenious motors hidden in the base of the model.
So for all it’s detail, movement and illumination, this little alpine scene will surely bring smiles to the faces of all this Christmas, perhaps it could even provide a centrepiece on the dinner table to keep little minds in awe, rather than keep little hands fidgety!
Powered by a low voltage transformer, this is both a safe and most importantly great fun addition to your festivities this Christmas.
3D Starburst Christmas Light
A striking alternative to more ‘fluffy’ and cute Christmas lights and decorations, this angular starburst light is none the less symbolic of birth and creation just as other Christmas traditions are.
At one metre across this isn’t a small lighting decoration by and means, so you’ll need a fair amount of room to be able to give it a home. Luckily it can be used outdoors although you’ll need to ensure that it is plugged in indoors as the plug is not rated for outdoor use, but again the 10 metre cable should mean that you don’t have too many problems when it comes to this. For storage each of the arms, or ‘spikes’ is removable.
With a total of 160 LEDs, this is a bright beast, and thanks to the supplied 8 way controller you’ll be able to enjoy a variety of different flashing effects.
Our only gripe with this is it’s potential to cause injury, with each spike being prone to contacting any passers by this is probably not the right choice if you have over zealous pets and young children.
Santa Climbing Ladder Christmas Light
A variation on what’s become an old classic, this cheeky Santa on a ladder is sure to bring smiles to the faces of you and your neighbours this Christmas.
Featuring some really nice detail you might even be forgiven for thinking that the real Father Christmas is scaling your wall when you look up in the festive night sky. Complete with real fabric clothing, a fluffy beard, and of course that all important sack of gifts, this Santa definitely looks the part, and that’s before we’ve even considered that this is a lighting installation!
So whether part of a larger ensemble of lights outside or inside your house, or as a standalone feature, rest assured that the lighting on the ladder is bright enough to make this an attractive lighting feature and to show off Santa and his details in all their glory.
In terms of functionality, this installation can be used both inside and outside the home. If hung outside, bear in mind that you’ll need to plug in the power socket from the inside, but with 5 metres of cable this shouldn’t cause any problems.
So, he’s smiley, he’s bright, and at a total length of 1.5 metres he’s a decent size. Light up the whole festive season with this Santa on display to add the anticipation of the man himself appearing on Christmas Eve.
Ringing Bell Christmas Light
If you like to invite guests to your home over Christmas then what better way to welcome them than to decorate your home inside, outside, or even both. You’ll be spreading joy before you’ve even heard the door bell! This is a lovely example of such a decoration that quite literally rings with Christmas spirit.
At around 50 x 50 cm this ringing bell motif of Christmas lights is certainly a decent size to be appreciated, and you definitely won’t miss it by the fact that it is animated, with each bell alternately flicking on and off to give the impression that they are ‘ringing’, with the bright red bow proudly sitting above them both. With a string of many lights in each section of the motif this will certainly be bright enough to impress, probably standing out best against the night’s sky.
Whilst this light is really easy to hang and install, unfortunately it only comes with 2 metres of cable, which could limit you to where you position it given the obvious requirement to be near a plug socket. Of course this can be easily remedied with the addition of an extension lead, but obviously it still isn’t the ideal solution.
So as a really clear and simple symbol of festive joviality this lighting motif ticks all the boxes, you’ll see it from afar and know instantly what it is. Just be aware of the limitations in cable length and you’ll be good to go.