The best Christmas lights for every decorating need

Noelle Ike, CNN Underscored
Fri November 9, 2018

Story highlights

  • CNN Underscored ranks the top Christmas lights to buy this holiday season
  • Amazon offers classic, multicolored, fairy, and outdoor lighting options

If anything signals the start of the holiday season, it's lights. Lights wrapping trees, decorating homes and lining city streets. They're a festive way to usher in cold weather, and a simple but effective way to transform any old room into a cozy haven.

We've narrowed some of the highest-rated options from Amazon into four categories, so you can get to decorating as soon as possible, with a range of lights to choose from. Whether you want to go with a multicolored classic or are looking for an option that will make your home stand out from the rest this holiday season, we've got you and your decorating needs covered.

1. Classic White

White lights are the essential holiday lights. They're classic and versatile and can be used to decorate everything from a Christmas tree to a living room or an outdoor patio. This option from Pretext (amazon.com; $9.95) is one of the most affordable on the market, and it boasts a 5-star rating with over 140 reviews. Reviewers cite the white wiring -- as opposed to the more common green wiring -- as a nice aesthetic touch for household decoration.

For an upgraded classic, the globe string lights from Brightown (amazon.com; $15.99) look pricier than they actually are. Available in three lengths - 25, 50 and 100 feet - they're ideal for both indoor and outdoor decoration. The bulbs are replaceable and energy-efficient, and you can connect multiple sets together for large-scale decorating.

2. Multicolored

When it comes to decorating a Christmas tree, there's nothing more festive than multicolored lights. This option from Holiday Joy (amazon.com; $18.88) comes with 300 multicolored lights, giving you a good bang for your buck. Extra bulbs and fuses are included, but even if one light breaks the string will remain lit, so you won't have to worry about replacing this set anytime soon.

For a fancier option sure to impress your friends and family, this LED string light set from Aloveco (amazon.com; $8.99) is the way to go. Featuring multicolored glowing orbs, it comes with a remote that has eight different settings so you can customize the color and pattern of your lights. The lights are battery-powered, which is helpful if there's no power outlet near where you're decorating.

3. Fairy Lights

LED copper string lights - often referred to as "fairy lights" for their delicate, sparkling effect - are the easiest way to give your home a festive upgrade this holiday season. The TaoTronics LED string lights (amazon.com; $12.99) have a 4.5-star rating with 3,200 customer reviews. The copper wire is bendable and lightweight, which makes it the perfect material to wrap or shape around furniture, plants or signs.

If you're looking to really customize your lighting, TaoTronics also offers LED string lights with remote control (amazon.com; $15.99) which feature 10 levels of brightness and adjustable lighting patterns.

4. Festive / Outdoors

To truly step up your holiday decorating this year, try going beyond basic string lights. The Twinkle Star LED curtain string lights (amazon.com; $17.99) features 12 star-shaped ornaments that hang from strings covered with smaller light bulbs. There are eight settings for different lighting effects, so you can create a whimsical or peaceful atmosphere through different speeds and patterns.

The BlueFire cascading icicle lights (amazon.com; $30.99) are a great option for eye-catching outdoor decoration. To ensure durability, each string of lights comes in a transparent tube made of waterproof material that the maker says is resistant to corrosion and aging. Within each icicle, individual bulbs turn on and off one by one to create a gorgeous cascading effect.

If you really want to show up the neighbors this year, 1ByOne's outdoor laser light projector (amazon.com; $25.48) might be what sets you apart. Just plug the projector in and the front of your home will be covered in sparkles of festive green and red light. It's an easy and cost-effective option that eliminates the work of unwrapping and hanging lights year after year.