Maths students have the solution for decorating the perfect Christmas tree

If you've gone overboard while decorating the Christmas tree this year and it's more gaudy than great then maths students from the University of Sheffield may have the answer.


Members of Sheffield University Maths Society (SUMS) have created a festive formula to ensure just the right ratio of lights, tinsel and baubles are used to give your Christmas tree the perfect look.

Using their 'treegonometry' calculations they say a 152cm (5ft) Christmas tree would need 31 baubles, around 776 cms of tinsel and 478 cms of lights with a 15cm star or angel to top it off.

Their calculations look like this:

christmas tree

So whether it's a Norwegian Spruce or an artificial tree, use the calculator to make sure you have the right number of decorations and your home is a winter wonderland this Christmas.


George Amos, president of SUMS said: "Being interested in maths can be a struggle for a lot of people but this is a brilliant way of showing an applicable side of maths.

“This equation - which was created by two former students and SUMS members a few years ago - is a nice and easy equation to get people involved in maths, as well as a bit of good, festive fun."

Christmas tree facts

  • The world's tallest Christmas tree would, at 2,600ft tall, need more than 16,000 baubles, over 4,000 meters of tinsel, almost 2,500 meters of lights, and an 80 meter tall star.
  • This year's Trafalgar Square tree is about 25 meters tall, meaning it would need 515 baubles, over 100 meters of tinsel, 78 meters of lights and a 2.5 meter tall star.

Additional information

The University of Sheffield
With nearly 26,000 students from 125 countries, the University of Sheffield is one of the UK’s leading and largest universities. A member of the Russell Group, it has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. The University of Sheffield was named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards 2011 for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, and 2007).

These prestigious awards recognise outstanding contributions by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield also boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and many of its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence around the world. The University’s research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, ICI, Slazenger, and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

The University has well-established partnerships with a number of universities and major corporations, both in the UK and abroad. Its partnership with Leeds and York Universities in the White Rose Consortium has a combined research power greater than that of either Oxford or Cambridge.


For further information please contact:

Clare Parkin
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 2229851