Best Christmas Lights for a Dorm Room
Snow days as long as you want and the endless drinking of pumpkin spice lattes – Christmas away from home can be exciting. However it can also be hard to capture that certain festive ambience and put it in your small, maybe slightly dreary, dorm room. Adding Christmas lights is one way of doing just that in a way that won’t break the bank and might even inspire you to get creative.
Finding a set of lights is easy, but finding a good set of lights is a little more difficult. You might think that a light is just a light, but don’t forget that you need to find a set that is suitable for your room size, last through to January and, of course, look the part.
Our Top 4 Christmas Lights for Dorms
Lights come in a variety of colors, materials, lengths and with different modes. Choosing a set of lights starts by thinking about the size of the area you actually want to hang lights from. Your dorm might be big, but maybe you might only want to hang the lights from a certain part of the dorm or an object like a bed. Indoor Christmas lights are usually around 30 feet, but come in a wide range of sizes.
Then think of color. Classic white is often a good choice for round-year flexibility, such as the TaoTronics String Lights. White lights perfectly reflect the winter season while remaining classy long into the New Year. For a stronger festive punch, try multicolor lights like the Excelvan 24V Christmas Fairy Lights.
And of course different lights can blink, twinkle, glow or just stay on. Some can even do all of those things in different controllable modes. The more they can do, the pricier they might get, so consider how much versatility you want versus how much you want to spend.
LED Christmas lights are safer but perhaps less vibrant than their glass bulb counterparts. LEDs are also harder to break than bulbs and easier to fix when they do, as glass can shatter into pieces. The argument for bulb based lights is that they are brighter and feel more authentic, such as the Holiday Wonderland 100-Count Clear Christmas Light Set.
Editor’s Choice: TaoTronics String Lights
The TaoTronics String Lights are the clear winner for dorms and other smaller rooms. At 33 feet in length, they are long enough to be hung along dorm rooms or windows. 100 mini white LEDs create a very bright light and festive feel. These lights are also safe, being CE certified, meaning they conform to EU manufacturing standards. After 13 hours of use they were still cool to the touch and are at little risk of overheating.
The standout feature of the TaoTronics String Lights is the thin copper wire which means they can be bent, shaped and moulded with ease. These lights are for the creatively minded as they can be wired around plants, doors, windows, headboards, bottles and even other decorations like reindeers or Santa Claus to create different illuminated displays.
What We Liked:
- Long enough for the job, but not too long to get tangled and take up space after use
- Thin but durable copper wire means these lights can be be moulded around other displays and decorations, making these lights extremely versatile and reusable
- CE certified and didn’t overheat or feel hot after use
- 12 months warranty, plus 6 months after registration
What We Didn’t Like:
- These lights were brighter than we initially thought – we could even read under them
- Putting together more than two strands was possible but each strand needs its own outlet, which meant cluttering our room with extension cords
Excelvan 24V Christmas Fairy Lights
If you’re fortunate to have a large dorm room, or even a Christmas tree, then the Excelvan 24V Christmas Fairy Lights might suit you. 50M long and with 250 multicolored LEDs, these lights have eight distinct lighting modes, including flashing, lighting in waves, or slow fades. Despite this complexity, they were very simple to set up. As soon as you plug them in, they turn on, and the lighting mode is controlled by a button hanging from the lights.
The lights were also extremely easy to unpack and pack away. They arrive inside of smaller zippered bags in a reusable box. We found that they didn’t get tangled when we repacked and unpacked them, probably because there are fewer sockets than other bulb based lights of this length.
Using the Excelvan 24V Christmas Fairy Lights after dorm life is definitely possible. They’re both outdoor and indoor capable as the LEDs are anti-cold and waterproof. So they could be used back at home as outdoor lights for other holidays or parties.
What We Liked:
- Long length means we can use them for bigger spaces or for a more intense lighting style
- Eight different lighting modes, such as flashing, twinkling and alternate fading
- Capable of being used outdoors and indoors – waterproof and anti-frost
- Easily stored, packed and resisted getting tangled
- The twinkle mode is particularly lovely
- Multicolored lights felt very festive
What We Didn’t Like:
- The control button is on the lights themselves and it would be more convenient to have a remote control
- Some modes, like the steady on mode, make the lights seem a little dim
- Not sure that we’d keep these lights up after Christmas due to the multicolored LEDs
Holiday Wonderland 100-Count Clear Christmas Light Set
The Holiday Wonderland 100-Count Clear Christmas Light Set contains almost 25 feet of slightly golden lights. The Holiday Wonderland lights are not LED lights and instead are made from traditional glass bulbs. The combination of bulb and gold color means that the Holiday Wonderland lights are perfect for twinkling and glowing effects, creating a very relaxing and warm lighting style.
They were also extremely affordable – the best for value on this list. This was great because the Wonderland Lights can be connected with up to three strands, if you want a longer length of lights. This meant 75 feet of white lights for a very reasonable price.
However the 25 foot length of a single strand also makes them perfect for smaller rooms by sparing floor space. They are the perfect length for hanging above beds, along mirrors or even window frames.
What We Liked:
- Slightly gold light and glass bulbs create a very warm twinkling atmosphere
- Perfect length for small spaces
- Three strands of these lights can be connected together, making them more customisable for your dorm size
- One bulb flickered off during assembly but didn’t affect the rest of them
What We Didn’t Like:
- A glass bulb was difficult to replace when it shattered as we had to pull out the remaining broken glass
- The wire is green which meant they were very visible during the daytime
- Gentle illumination was beautiful but not powerful enough on its own
OMGAI Snow Falling Icicle Lights
The OMGAI Snow Falling Icicle Lights are a more unique take on the Christmas light. Rather than a strand of bulbs or LEDs, the OMGAI Icicle Lights are smaller strings of LEDs within small tubes which look like icicles. The OMGAI Icicle Lights are the shortest we used at only 10.5 feet long with 8 icicle tubes. In each bulb there are 18 LEDs. When turned on, each LED lights in sequence, creating a snowfall effect inside of the tubes.
The OMGAI Icicle Lights are waterproof and dustproof, meaning we didn’t have to worry about them getting wet, although they didn’t look strong enough for outdoor use. The structure of these lights compared to string lights could give them a longer shelf life as the LEDs are protected within the tubes.
What We Liked:
- Unique design made for a striking and beautiful lighting display
- Up to five strings can be connected
- The price seemed reasonable for what we got
- Transparent so they weren’t as obvious during daylight hours.
- 90 day warranty
What We Didn’t Like:
- Short length limited where or how we could hang the lights
- Looked too flimsy to withstand outdoor weather, which limits what you can do with them compared to other lights
- Doesn’t have an on / off switch so we had to manually remove the plug from the socket
Are Christmas lights safe?
A 2013 USFI consumer survey showed that over two thirds of Americans use electrical lights indoors to decorate their homes. As with any electrical appliance, Christmas lights do have the potential to cause electrical hazards.
In order to maximize safety at home, you can:
- Use LED lights – they don’t become hot and are made with durable lenses which make them harder to break
- Turn off your lights when you go to sleep or leave the house
- Keep fabrics, clothes and other flammable materials away from the lights
- Never completely encase lights in small spaces such as behind headboards or under drapery
Be careful when hanging your lights too! Falling can seriously injure you. So make sure to use a ladder, go slowly, and ask for your roommate’s help steadying it.
Can Christmas lights be recycled?
Christmas lights can be a pain to store. They often break or blinker out after long use, or make huge tangled messes. If you’re over your lights and want to get rid of them, there are a few ways to recycle them, but it’s not as easy as other everyday objects.
The basic problem is that Christmas lights are usually made of glass, plastic and metal (copper wiring). These elements need to be separated before they can be recycled. Some of your options are to:
- Check large department stores near you like Lowe’s and The Home Depot – they often participate in recycling schemes and will take your old lights off your hands
- Call other electrical stores near you to see if they will also take them – you might even get a trade-in deal
- If they aren’t completely broken, consider donating them to a thrift store
- Reuse them with crafting to make an illuminated decoration, mirror or plant
Our Final Thoughts
The TaoTronics String Lights are our clear winner because of their ability to be shaped and positioned without risking overheating or breaking the wire.
When Christmas is over, the durable and bright TaoTronics Lights can be incorporated into other decorations or displays, helping with the stress of what to do with lights when the festive season is over. This allows for greater flexibility for your dorm than the beautiful, but short, OMGAI Snow Falling Icicle Lights. The TaoTronics String Lights could also be stylishly used year round because of their white LEDs, unlike the festive multicolored Excelvan 24V Christmas Fairy Lights, which we feel like we’d take down soon after New Year.
The LED lights of the TaoTronics String Lights create a beautiful effect that almost beats the bulbs of the Holiday Wonderland 100-Count Clear Christmas Light Set. However having to deal with broken bulbs puts the Holiday Wonderland Lights below the TaoTronics, even if the lighting effect was more relaxing and gentle.