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There Is A Mathematically Correct Way To Decorate Your Christmas Tree, And This Is It

Many of you are probably setting up the Christmas tree this weekend, and if you’re anything like us, it’s a daunting task. The pines and spruces of our youth, were always decorated with love, care, and not a little shouting. They also usually left one with the impression that we had jammed all the ornaments, tinsel, and lights at our disposal into a cannon, fired it in the general direction of the tree, and moved on with our lives. The University of Sheffield’s Maths Society – presumably sick of watching people like me decorate like an animal — has offered up a Christmas miracle — a series of calculations that, if followed, will get your tree looking picture perfect, from an exacting tinsel-to-tree ratio to a star or angel that’s just the right height.

Are you ready to decorate your tree in the nerdiest possible fashion? Mathematical! Here are the equations you’ll need:

  • To determine the number of ornaments appropriate for your tree, take the square root of 17, divide by 20, and multiply by the height of the tree in centimeters.
  • The length of the tinsel in centimeters should be 13, multiplied by pi, divided by 8, and multiplied by the height of the tree in centimeters
  • For lights, multiply height of the tree (cm again) by pi to determine how many centimeters of lights you will need
  • And the height of the angel should be the rather simple height of the tree in centimeters divided by 10

If you’re math-dumb like us — or, y’know, just lazy — the University of Sheffield has provided a handy calculator that does all the work for you in just a few keystrokes. You’re on your own for metric conversions, but there’s probably a calculator for those, too.

Real talk for a moment, if we could? This formula is going to come in crazy handy this holiday season. While I’m not the Grinch I used to be, Christmas still isn’t exactly my jam, and decorating the tree has always been especially jarring, as it combines “Christmas” with “Needing a sense of visual aesthetics.” Neither of these things are exactly strong suits of mine. Honestly, I just spray canned flocking at the branches until I get lightheaded, at which point the tree is decorated and it is egg nog o’clock.

Now that I have data and a battle plan in front of me, though, my sad little Charlie Brown tree might even look like it was decorated by a human being with some self respect and joy left in their heart. I mean, probably not, but stranger things have happened.

(via University of Sheffield, image via flickr)

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