The Goal: Find an elegant upgrade to the standard green wired (and tangle-prone) Christmas-tree lights. We spoke to department-store-window designers and interior decorators who guided us toward new LED fairy lights, which are strung along a metal cord so thin they almost disappear when lit (making them easier to store too).
The Verdict: TaoTronics starry string lights ($20 at amazon.com) are made of a copper strand stiff enough to avoid drooping and clumping, yet malleable enough to fit around just about anything — even a cactus — and then coil right back up in their box when the season is over. They also stay cool even after being lit for 14 hours and come with a wireless remote to adjust the red, green, and blue LED bulbs between ten brightness levels and fade-or-strobe modes, depending on what the holiday party calls for.
*This article appears in the November 30, 2015 issue of New York Magazine.