people's choice

The Best Christmas Lights, According to Hyperenthusiastic Reviewers

Some of the best string lights malleable enough to fit around just about anything — even a cactus. Photo: Bobby Doherty

Here at the Strategist, we like to think of ourselves as crazy (in the good way) about the stuff we buy, but as much as we’d like to, we can’t try everything. Which is why we have People’s Choice, in which we find the best-reviewed (that’s four-to-five-star reviews and lots of ‘em) products and single out the most convincing. Last year, we picked our favorite Christmas lights, but this year, we decided to go deeper on all kinds of string and holiday lighting. Below, the best in Christmas light shows. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.) Don’t miss all of the Strategist’s holiday gift coverage right here, too.

Highest rated Christmas lights overall

“These lights are wonderful! My initial idea was regular holiday tree lights, but they were too bulky and heavy, so I found these. They are lightweight, beautifully lit, and just great with the remote control for power and display options. They are so thin and light, they are invisible in the canopy. The perfect backlight for a tween on her iPad. Love ‘em! And the price is very reasonable.” [Editor’s note: We’ve written about these excellent Christmas lights before. Read more here.]

Best traditional, white LED lights

“These are nice lights. They cast a warm glow and are working well for what I needed them for. Purchased two strands to run under the eaves of my chicken coop so that I could have lighting out there. They aren’t so bright to disrupt my hens, but light enough that I can easily make it to the coop to lock up the ladies at night.”

Best traditional, white incandescent lights

“Great little lights. The wiring almost disappears and the lights are so small, but put out just as much light as a larger bulb. Nice being able to adjust the light output.”

Best traditional, multicolored LED lights

“We wanted to do a candy-cane column for the holidays, and finding solid-red LED strands that were as bright as our cool white lights was a challenge. There are tons of ‘fairy’ strands out there, but they are very dim when placed near normal LED strands and have a high failure rating outside in our experience. These lights are PERFECT! Very bright, solid construction. Highly recommend these lights!”

“Very happy with these lights. They look great on our tree! And all four that I purchased worked right out of the box — no dead LEDs. They’ll probably pay for themselves in energy savings within a couple of years, since we like to keep our tree lights on nonstop throughout December. And no worries about fires since these babies put out zero heat. My only dislike is that they contain some white LEDs. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t think they belong on a color strand. But they are hardly noticeable unless you look for them.”

Best traditional, multicolored incandescent lights

“Great price! And the lights are really quite pretty! Deep, rich color — in fact, we couldn’t mix with other sets because these lights made the others look bad!”

Best Christmas lights with white, round bulbs

“I bought three sets of these a while back and just ordered three more! I seriously spent hours on Amazon and other sites trying to find the best deal on string lights (length and bulb size versus price) and these do not disappoint. Glad I did my homework! I hung mine in my loft, and I get so many compliments on them. The lights are bright but definitely not too intense, and the bulbs are fairly durable.”

Best Christmas lights with multicolored, round bulbs

“I thought the lantern lights would be a great way to create a unique look for my Christmas tree. They were so much better than I could’ve imagined! I love the way they look so much that I already ordered another string to add. My friends have called this tree the ‘rave’ tree or the ‘Disneyland’ tree because a couple of the settings look like a light show. Buy these lights if you want your Christmas tree to stand out!”

Best light-up icicles

OMGAI Meteor Shower Rain Lights/Icicles
$18

“I loved them; the neighbors loved them; they’re beautiful! I ordered two more sets. As far as the plug part not being waterproof, I put it inside two plastic bags and duct-taped over it, never had a problem. I’ll order more for next year!”

Best purple string lights

“If you are looking for great lights for a cheap price, look no further. In comparison, these lights are a million times better than any at Walmart. They also have a beautiful clear cord and awesome dimming settings, so you can change the mood of the room with just the lights. Overall, these lights blew me out of the water with my expectations. I love them!”