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Secrets for adding ambiance with string lights

Those twinkly lights...

The ones that flicker and set the stage for a wonderful evening get together. That zig zag here and there creating a charming pattern and seem to float perfectly above the dining table - adding just enough light and magic.
It is no secret that I love string lights. I am actually bordering on obsessed with them.
In the trees, by the fire pit and... above the outdoor dining table.
So many questions about how I hung these lights and got them to look the way they spilling the tips & secrets today.

Proper placement

Of course, you can't hang string lights if you don't have something to hang them from. In this spot- we have a huge old growth oak tree that quite a few low hanging branches.

We set the table in the center of the patio and then my husband got on a ladder and we hung the strands from branch to branch. He used a zip tie to secure them and I should note- these are LED - so no concerns about them heating up and fire danger. Make sure if you are doing something similar in a tree that you use something safe.
If you don't have a tree with branches that will work- get a couple of poles (think laundry type poles) or old charming wood ladders- and place them where you can 'string' the lights to and fro from them.

Zig Zag... or not

I know- it looks like these are zig zagged right? Here is a secret....

This is actually how they are strung through the branches.

Just back and forth in several lines at varying heights. Depending on your point of view- you might see more linear lights- or if at the end of the table - you see the lights dotting different spots giving it the illusion of a whole bunch of zig zag strands. Either way though- the lights add a perfect touch.

Vary the height

The other thing that helps increase that gorgeous lit up look is to vary the height of the strands.

Take one strand and run across at one height- the next about 4-5" inches higher (or Lower) and so on.

Never enough

And of course... you can't skimp on them. You just aren't going to be able to get this type of look with 1 or 2 strands This table has a total of 5 or 6 strands that are 20' long. (maybe more) strands of lights above it. But know that to reach those branches that they are hanging from- there is quite a bit of light going on that is not above the table and so that is partly why so many strands are in place.
These are the lights I used.

I hope that helps answer some of your questions and helps you create the charming atmosphere you are after!

And just 6 more days until my book is released. :)


  1. Such great tips, Courtney! Thanks for sharing! Have a great rest of the week. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  2. Love your string lights! Love the roses and the outdoor table. Gorgeous! Thanks for the tips!

    1. Thank you for the secret tips. I have 3 boxes of string lights in my garage waiting for me to to hang them perfectly.

  3. Lovely setting for a meal and wine!

  4. I love the look of twinkly lights too! Balsam Hill has nice lights and the price has been lowered, but 10 bulbs for $69. adds up if you use 4 or 5 sets. Maybe they will have an off season sale soon😀

  5. Love these tips! We have a lot of trees in our backyard and I'll have to try this 😍 You photos are amazingly gorgeous as always 😘

    Maison de Mings

  6. thanks for sharing your secrets. love the way it looks

  7. I assume these are electric. How to you plug them in without the extension cord showing or getting in the way of walking? I have the lights but didn't know how to plug them in to an outlet. Thanks in advance.

    1. Yes - they are electric. We ran the cord down the tree (or pole) and then it is just sitting on the lawn running to the outdoor outlet. But it’s out of the way where any guests might walk - you could also run it behind planters, etc if that helped. :)

  8. Thank you for the great ideas. I bought lights and then wasn't sure what to do with them. Now I know!

  9. Thanks for hosting Feathered Nest Friday and for sharing your secrets for hanging string lights. I love the lights you found, they look surprisingly warm for LEDs. Thanks for sharing your source for those as well!