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

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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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