Sorry, I kept forgetting to reply to your question about stringing tree lights, and now that post is on about page 3, so I figured I'd start a new post for you :)
I really don't have any special technique for putting the lights on the tree. I just plug them into the extension cord and wrap them around the tree. In some places, I twist the end of a branch around the wire to hold a particularly stubborn light in place. But mostly, the wire is just loosely strung all around the tree. I put the lights on first, and then try to cover up as much wire as I can with the decoration placement. If you look at the tree close up, you can see some of the wires. But in the dark with the tree lit, they really don't show.
In summary -- I'm too lazy to string the lights the proper way!!
One handy thing I have is an extension cord with an on/off switch at one end and the plug-in part at the other end. I can hide the switch part under the treeskirt, and it's easy to access to turn the lights on and off.