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How to Decorate a Christmas Tree

A lit electric fireplace by a Christmas tree decorated with black top hats, snowballs, and red check ribbon.

Best Way to Decorate a Christmas Tree

It’s likely the one element of the holidays that takes center stage in your home—the Christmas tree. Whether you hold the title of decorator-in-chief every year at your house, or if this will mark your first holiday to deck the halls, we offer up some great tips to get you prepped and ready to decorate for Christmas and map out a game plan to put your annual tree decorating into action.

Get out the Christmas decorations, untangle the lights and let’s get ready to decorate the Christmas tree like a pro.

Do Some Advance Planning

Before you get to decorating your Christmas tree, to need to take into account if you will have a real or artificial tree. Consider these details as you plan.

how-to-care-for-a-real-christmas-tree

How to Care for a Real Christmas Tree

For some, it just isn’t Christmas without a real tree. The smell of pine, the falling needles, the not-so-perfect shape, all add to the charm and tradition of decorating a real tree for the holidays. Whether you scout out one in the wild and cut it down yourself, or you head for the local tree lot to pick out a winner, caring for your tree once you bring it home requires a little extra TLC. Choose wisely. If you visit a tree lot for your tree, test a tree’s freshness by pulling your hand towards you along the branch. Needles should not fall off. What are the top sellers? Scotch pine, Douglas fir, white pine, and balsam fir.

Once you get your tree home, make a fresh cut about ½-inch from the bottom of the base of the tree. Don’t whittle down the sides of the tree to make it fit in the stand. And don’t drill a hole into the base; it won’t improve the tree’s ability to take in water. Choose a stand that will fit the base of your tree. You can trim lower branches so that it will fit down into the base. Generally, pick a stand that provides about 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. Fill it with water as quickly as possible. The longer you wait, the less likely it will be able to take up water. And once a tree doesn’t take water any more, you have a very dry tree that will lose its wonderful fragrance and begin losing its needles.

The number one thing you can do to preserve the beauty of your fresh tree, is to ensure that the water never drops below the base of the tree. With many stands, there may still be water in the base, but the tree may not be submerged.

How to Pick and Care for an Artificial (Fake) Christmas Tree

When looking to buy a fake Christmas tree, two important things to consider are its height and profile (diameter). Make sure it will fit nicely in your space. It is highly recommended to purchase a tree with hinged branches. Hinged branches are already connected to the tree, store easier, and make set-up and take-down a breeze. Natural or molded needles more closely resemble real trees. Some artificial trees have more than one type of pine needles, resulting in a fuller look. Flocked needles also give the impression of frost and snow on the tree.

If you have an artificial tree, its care is not nearly as critical. Pull it out of storage (or its brand new box) and assemble it according to directions. Are you a one-tree household? Or a one-in-every-room kind of home? Think ahead about how many trees you want to decorate and plan accordingly. Consider where you want to position the tree in your room and clear space ahead of time. The holidays can be a great excuse to try a new room arrangement or put a piece of furniture temporarily in storage.

 

Pre-lit Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree Ornaments

Christmas Tree Location

Keep in mind where the natural focal point of the room is, and how you plan to entertain. Do you like to open gifts Christmas morning around the tree? Then be sure to place it near comfortable seating. Do you prefer your tree to welcome everyone at the door? Then find a place in the foyer. Want to take advantage of a gorgeous front window? Center your tree so the lights and décor can be seen from the outside. Take time to get all your Christmas décor out of storage ahead of time. This way you can take inventory and think about your color theme, and whether you need to do some shopping to augment your supplies.

Christmas Tree Lights

 Start With Christmas Lights

The first step to decorating is filling that naked tree with lights. Choose light strands that have wire that matches the color of your branches. Usually, this is green, but there are lots of gorgeous white trees out there too, and options for white-wired lights as well. Choose the light style that best fits with your decorating theme. There are classic lights that twinkle, multi-colored lights, bubbling retro lights, mini-globe lights, and charming options, like angel string lights. Once you have chosen your color and style, then look at the options between LED or incandescent. If you’re buying new sets of lights, consider buying a few extra strands—they will come in handy! 

Christmas Tree Ornaments

Christmas Tree Ornaments

Add Christmas Tree Ornaments

Hang large, prominent Christmas ornaments first so that you can space them out evenly across your tree’s real estate. Then fill in smaller ornaments from there. Be sure to hang ornaments inside the tree’s branches and not just along the tips of the branches. If you have an artificial tree, you can also manipulate the branches to create a bit of a “shelf” that can hold large, heavy ornaments. We have several handmade ornament tips to get you started.

Evergreen Ribbon Tree

Decorate Your Christmas Tree With Ribbon

Ribbon might be a decorator’s new best friend when it comes to trimming your tree. Take a pretty colorful red plaid ribbon and let it replace the usual garland by gracefully arranging it in billowy bursts around the tree. It can go from top to bottom and add instant color while bringing your tree’s color scheme and theme to life. Prefer smaller, pretty ribbons tied into bows? Scatter red velvet bows throughout your tree for a delicate, lovely style. Or, try deco or net ribbon to make a particularly stylish impression with your Christmas tree.

Snowman Hat Christmas Tree Topper

Top if Off

Don’t forget a unique Christmas tree topper! Whether you prefer a traditional star, or something more whimsical, like a snowman’s top hat or a gorgeous opulent ribbon, it is nice to have a distinctive element to draw your eye to the top of the tree.

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Comments (1)

J.carter

It’s amazing how organized I already am acording to your planner. I am going to download your planner and send to my daughters. Thanks for sharing.

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Published on Nov 07 2019

Last Updated on Oct 09 2020

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