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This season, consider upgrading to the latest LED holiday lights which burn smarter, safer, greener and prettier than ever.

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There’s nothing quite like a home aglow with twinkling bulbs during the holidays. Here, we take a look at the season’s best new holiday lighting options — and show you how to properly wrap them around a tree for the brightest, most show-stopping illumination.

It’s been more than 130 years since electric holiday lights first began to replace the tradition of pinning candles — often precariously — to evergreen trees at Christmastime. Now, those incandescent bulbs are being pushed aside in favor of a new generation: light-emitting diode bulbs.

LEDs come in different shapes, sizes and novelty designs. They don’t burn hot, use as little as one-tenth the energy of incandescent bulbs and can last up to 40 times longer. Earlier versions of LED holiday lights suffered from a disconcerting flicker and were limited in color to a cool bluish-white, but those issues have been eliminated in recent years.

Before you rush out to buy new lights for the tree, though, you should first figure out how many strings you need. That number will largely depend on how you plan to wrap them: Do you prefer surface-winding (draping the strands around the perimeter of the tree) or branch-weaving (wrapping strings around individual branches, from the center of the tree outward)? The latter method requires more strands of lights, but the payoff is spectacular.

Use these equations, endorsed by our lighting experts, to calculate the number of bulbs required for your tree; then divide by the number of bulbs per string.

SURFACE-WINDING EQUATION

Number of lights = height × diameter of tree × 20

3-D WEAVING EQUATION

Number of lights = height × radius × radius × 50

Novelty lights

Deck the halls (and trees, wreaths and garlands!) with these whimsical LEDs.

1. ICICLES

These look great on a tree or hanging from eaves.

Source: Winter White Icicles, by Kurt Adler, $31.22 for 30 lights, amazon.com

2. GLOBES

Whether turned on or off, the filigree balls, available in both silver and gold, are striking.

Source: From $22 for 24 lights, environmentallights.com

3. LARGE SNOWFLAKES

Brighten a wreath with a dusting of battery-operated snowflake lights.

Source: By Martha Stewart Living, $7.98 for 30 lights, homedepot.com

4. TINY DOTS

These Stargazer lights are battery-operated and work especially well in miniature village scenes.

Source: $38 for 12.5', shopterrain.com

5. MINI SNOWFLAKES

Light up a tree with petite snowflake bulbs.

Source: 50-Light LED Warm White Snowflake Light Set

By Martha Stewart Living, $15.38 for 50 lights, homedepot.com

6. FLOWERS

The bendable battery-operated branches are perfect for a garland-trimmed fireplace mantel.

Source: $14.99 for 24 lights, save-on-crafts.com

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