Christmas Tree Tips: Deck Out Like a Designer

Follow our 10 tips for a beautifully decorated Christmas tree that gets the Santa Seal of Approval.

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Photo By: Marian Parsons

Take Time to Fluff (or Trim)

It’s one of the most boring parts of decorating a Christmas tree, but taking time to properly fluff an artificial tree or trim a live tree will set the stage for a beautiful holiday focal point. On an artificial tree, pull apart the branches and bend them at a slight upward angle. When preparing a live tree, remove lower branches that will interfere with the tree stand and give a "haircut" to any that are distracting or awkward.

Creative Containers

One of the most impactful ways to add personality to your tree is to put it in a unique container. Crocks, baskets, crates, wagons and large buckets are all excellent choices. If using a live tree, insert a plastic bucket or container inside to hold water. Alternately, secure a faux tree's trunk by stacking a few bricks around it.

Picks + Sprigs

To add texture and color variation to a tree, tuck in sprigs of greenery, pinecone picks and berry bunches. Pick one from each category and use 10-12 of each for a 7-8 foot tree. For example, combine blue/green leafy lamb’s ear with white berries and frosted pine cones. Tuck the sprigs and picks in gaps in the branches. Secure with a green pipe cleaner or twist-tie if necessary.

Add Color + Softness With Ribbon

Wide, fabric ribbon is a fantastic way to add color and softness to a tree. It can also visually divide the tree into sections, so it’s not a big, green triangle at first glance. Look for wired ribbon that's about 3-4 inches wide. It might seem like a lot but purchase about 50’ of ribbon for typical a 7-8 foot tree. Wrap the ribbon around the tree as a garland or allow it to cascade from the top.

Complement + Contrast

To take the ribbon to the next level, pair it with a garland or trim in a complementary color and contrasting texture. For example, match up a cream wool pom-pom garland with a gray velvet ribbon or wired gold mesh trim with a red plaid ribbon. Secure the ribbon and trim together with a twist tie or pipe cleaner. Where the two are connected, attach them to branches, close to the trunk, to hide the connection points. Fluff and shape the wired ribbon around the branches to fill in gaps.

Take Lighting Up a Notch

Use two different types of lighting on the tree to add even more interest. A mix of large and small bulbs, string lights and electric candles will take an already beautiful tree and put it over the top.

Work From the Top Down

The star, angel or topper of choice is traditionally put on last, but leaning over a tree loaded with ornaments is impractical and can be unsafe. Put the star on the top before any ornaments are added to make the decorating process easier. Add ornaments from the top down for this same reason.

Theme + Variety

When adding ornaments, stick with a theme, even if it’s a loose one. Find a common element, whether it’s color palette, style, material or a specific theme like woodland, coastal, rustic, lodge, etc. Within that theme, add lots of variation. Use ornaments of different sizes, textures, tones, hues and finishes. Mix new and old, handmade and store bought, high-end and bargains. Variety within boundaries prevents the tree from looking too crazy or too boring.

Don’t Miss the Tree for the Branches

When decorating a tree from about a foot away, it’s easy to miss the big picture. Frequently, take a few steps back to view the tree as a whole. Are there any gaps or clumps in the branches, lighting, ribbons or ornaments? Are any elements distracting or do they work together to enhance the overall look? It’s even a good idea to take a break for a few minutes; then walk back into the room to view the tree with fresh eyes.

Finishing Touches

There are so many ways to elevate traditional elements of a Christmas tree. Add ribbon and sprigs of greenery to embellish a star or angel tree topper. Put vintage-style reflectors on classic string lights. Add a village scene or electric train to an otherwise ordinary tree skirt. Layering is one of the keys to designing a stunning room and the same thing is true when decorating a Christmas tree.

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