Types of Christmas tree light bulbs

Updated June 29, 2018

Lights on a Christmas tree convey celebratory feelings and warm comfort. Christmas tree lights are produced in many colours, types and varieties, from the miniature dancing lights to old-fashioned bulbs emitting a soft glow. The type of lights you choose should complement your tree's overall appearance and coordinate with the ornaments.


In the mid-17th century, Christmas trees were lit by securing candles onto the limbs and branches of the tree. In 1882, Thomas Edison had invented the first Christmas tree lights as we know them today. He had a colleague hand-wire together the bulbs, which were coloured patriotic red, white and blue. Soon to follow in 1895, President Grover Cleveland displayed a Christmas tree at the White House with lights, and America fell in love with the electric-lit tree for Christmas celebrations.

Mini Incandescent and LED Lights

Mini lights come in two types: compact incandescents and the newer LED, or light-emitting diodes, which do not produce heat. These small, capsule-shaped light bulbs are also flameproof and fireproof, and are thus safe to place on your tree. The mini, multicoloured lights are the most popular, followed by strands in one solid colour. LED lights are available in star-shaped and cone-shaped frames, all in various sizes.

Globe Lights

Christmas tree globe lights are also produced in many sizes and are round in shape. They appear to be balls of colour on the tree and can be multicoloured or all solid colours on a strand. Globe lights emit a softer glow than miniature lights, but each lights a larger area due to its round shape.

Bubble Lights

These retro lights from the mid-20th century are back by popular demand. Bubble lights stand straight up on the limbs of your Christmas tree and when the tube of liquid atop the light warms up, bubbles travel up and down inside of them. They work on the same principle of a lava lamp. This type of light, with its mesmerising motion, will hold the attention of both young and old.

Incandescent Bulbs

The most traditional Christmas tree lights are the incandescent bulbs that resemble the original lights created for Thomas Edison. These are available in several sizes including a C7 and a C9, with either assorted colours per strand or in one colour per strand. This type of bulb may also be used outside because they are waterproof. Many people enjoy these lights because when they are on, they warm up the branches of a real tree, which then release the sweet smell of pine.


All Christmas tree lights are available on green or white strands of wire. The white strands will be hidden in a white tree so only the lights are seen, and the same is true with the green strands on a green tree. Lights may stay on solid or they can twinkle on and off randomly, or the pattern and speed may be changed with a built-in controller box. There are also chaser lights, which appear to "run" around the tree in merriment.

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About the Author

Mary Lougee has been writing for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree with a major in Management and a double minor in accounting and computer science. She loves writing about careers for busy families as well as family oriented planning, meals and activities for all ages.