With the festive season slowing approaching, it’s time for Christmas tunes, Christmas shopping and, of course, the pride of any household – the Christmas tree.
16th century Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, was reportedly the first to adorn lighted candles on a tree. Walking home one evening, he was so struck by the beauty of twinkling stars amid evergreens, he recreated the scene for his family by putting a tree in the main room of their home, and wiring lighted candles through its branches.
It must have been an amazing sight for him to have gone through so much trouble, and probably explains why so many of us, till today, take such great care with decorating our festive masterpieces.
You would be wise not to underestimate the pure joy these festive beauties bring. The excitement of a decorated tree transcends time. Even an excited 13-year-old Queen Victoria wrote about the delight of Christmas trees in her 1832 journal on Christmas Eve:
‘There were two large round tables on which were placed two trees hung with lights and sugar ornaments. All the presents being placed round the trees…’
Who can resist the lush array of twinkling lights, colorful baubles, sparkly garlands, and perfectly balanced Christmas toppers – not to mention the excitement and pure happiness a Christmas tree brings? However, many times our vision of what our tree will look like, doesn’t exactly pan out in reality.
Luckily we have so many beautiful Christmas tree decorations to choose from, unlike the Christian Germans, who, reportedly, were the first to bring decorated Christmas trees into their home during the 16th century. They made do with candles and wood.
Yet, not all of us are Picassos with a natural flair for decorating, and the process of adorning your beloved Christmas tree can surprisingly encompass more than just matching colors. There are numerous factors to consider before you set about the fun-filled activity of decorating your Christmas tree.
7 Easy Steps on How to Decorate a Christmas Tree:
- Choose your tree
- Prep your location
- Spruce up your tree
- Put up your Christmas light
- Hang your Christmas ornaments
- Finishing touch
- Put the tree topper
Whether your aim is decorating for a cozy family get-together, or rivalling the Rockefeller Centre Tree in New York City, the following tips should have you covered. Here’s a step-by-step-guide on how to decorate a christmas tree. Let’s get started.
1. Choose your Christmas Tree
The first step on decorating your Christmas tree is, of course, getting yourself a Christmas tree. There are various options to choose from, but in general, you have two to choose from: natural or artificial tree.
Natural Christmas Tree
If you’re opting for the traditional, natural look, you can choose one of the many available options at a Christmas tree park.
The best variety of natural Christmas trees can be found among the Noble, Fraser, Douglas and Balsam Firs. Among the pine family the Eastern White and Scotch Pine are quite popular, and White and Colorado Blue Spruces are a firm favorite too.
Artificial Christmas Tree
With artificial Christmas trees the options are endless. You can go for the traditional green tree in a variety of sizes, or white trees – even wood or steel, which can often be made by hand if you’re up for some DIY’ing. In recent years families have become increasingly creative with the type of Christmas trees they buy.
Top Tip: Keep the available space in your home in mind when buying your tree, and also the overall color scheme you’re going with if buying an artificially-colored Christmas tree.
2. Location, location, location
First and foremost, where will your Christmas pride and joy be placed?
Picture perfect Christmas tree: If you’re planning a family photo shoot in front of your tree, ensure there will be enough space for everyone to put on their best smiles and show off their Christmas jumpers. Got particularly drab curtains or unpainted walls? This might not make the perfect background for your Christmas tree photo shoot. Besides, the curtains might clash with your carefully color-coordinated Christmas baubles.
Kids-friendly: If there’ll be kids unwrapping Christmas gifts, keep this in mind. There’s nothing more beautiful than children sitting at the foot of the tree, innocent faces bathed in soft glowing light, strewing Christmas wrapping all over the floor. This is probably the only time of year you won’t mind the cleanup afterwards!
Power source: You will need to be near plugs to get those lights brightening up your tree. Keep in mind that you wouldn’t want anyone tripping over loose wires and spilling their eggnog.
Height and width might be a factor, depending on how much space you have available. Keep this in mind before deciding on the perfect location for (and purchasing) your tree.
Top tips: If you’re using a real tree, there’s a chance of it drying out too much before Christmas day if placed in a warm environment. Try and place it in a cooler part of the house, and not close to fires and/or radiators.
Always trim a real Christmas tree from the bottom up to retain its rectangular shape.
Pet-safe: Cats love exploring Christmas trees, so if you have a particularly curious feline friend, remember to put your tree far away from any breakables – just in case it topples over. In fact, any four-legged friends might be a potential hazard. Try placing your tree away from their normal path of entering and exiting the home.
3. Sprucing up your Christmas Tree
Source: Design Love Fest
Yes, we have all seen the dismal state our carefully packed away Christmas trees are in, once hauled out of the cupboard where it has been patiently waiting for its grand reappearance.
Surprisingly, this step is key to obtaining that lush Christmas tree look: Fluff up those branches, and take your time!
Yes, the anticipation of getting to the fun stuff and decorating will tempt you to gloss over this step – but be aware, it won’t end well. There’s nothing worse than a Christmas tree with scraggy branches. Spend a good amount of time on this step, and you’ll be glad you did.
Fluffing up the branches of your tree will lend depth and richness, making it so much easier to hang baubles, garlands, and the like.
4. Lighting is Key
We all want to achieve that perfect Christmas glow, or recreate the majestic beauty of what Martin Luther witnessed amid the starry nights and evergreens. There are a few technical points that might make this easier to achieve.
According to experts, for every foot of Christmas tree, you’ll need an average of a 100 lights. Of course, this is Christmas, so the more lights the better!
Where experts differ, is whether to start wounding your lights from the top or the bottom.
Either way, make sure to avoid any deliberate patterns, rather opting for a natural look, ensuring that every branch gets some sparkle. Try to leave about six inches between each loop, placing some lights deeper into the branches and some towards the front. This creates an illusion of depth and warmth to your lighting.
Top Tip: Make sure your lights are working before bobbing and weaving them through your branches. There’s nothing worse than having gone through all the trouble, just to find your lights as dead as doornails.
5. The Art of Christmas Tree Decorating
When it comes to adorning your carefully prepared Christmas tree, you probably have some vision in mind. Whether you would like to go in the direction of minimalist and stylish, or more traditional and eclectic, there are certain things you should still keep in mind.
Color Schemes: Choose color palettes that go well together, and try not to be overly perfectionist when it comes to matching your Christmas theme on your tree with those throughout your house. Variation is good – matchy, matchy not so much.
Garlands and Tinsels: Adding garlands, whether it be foil, beads or ribbon, lend texture to your tree. According to experts, you will need approximately two strands of garland for every foot of tree.
Baubles and Christmas Balls are probably what they had in mind when they said: Save the best for last. Everyone loves hanging these little globes of joy. Start from the inside of your tree, using those cheaper multi-pack baubles if you can.
Keep the more expensive and decorative baubles for the outside of your tree. Larger baubles should be placed close to the center of the tree, to create the illusion of depth. Smaller ones will be hung more towards the end of the branches. Baubles are fun, so use a variety of shapes and sizes to adorn your tree.
Christmas Tree Ornaments: There are a vast majority of Christmas ornaments to choose from. Traditional candy canes, glass, metal, wood or ceramics – the options are endless. The fun is choosing the ones that will eventually make their way to your tree. Want to go totally historic? The first decorated trees were reportedly adorned with pastries in a variety of shapes and sizes, apples, and white candy canes. This is sure to set your tree apart from the rest, and imagine the interesting stories you can regale your guests with.
Top Tips: Hang garlands before baubles, ensuring no baubles are hurt during the decorating of your tree!
Got a precious glass bauble from Aunt Mary last Christmas? Hang it at the top, safe from prying little hands. We all know how irresistible those beauties can be!
Make your children part of the Christmas tree decorating, by asking them to design and create their own Christmas tree ornaments. This is super special, and will create memories that will last you a lifetime. It might not be as fancy as store bought decorations, but it’s priceless in comparison.
6. Finishing Touches
Don’t leave your Christmas tree red in the face and skirtless. You have gone through all the prepping and trouble, your Christmas tree is looking beautiful – until you stare down towards the bottom.
You don’t want extension leads and unsightly green plastic tree holders showing and spoiling the overall look of your masterpiece. Use a Christmas tree skirt. There are many tutorials on how to go about making your own DIY skirt, and it just finishes of your Christmas tree perfectly.
7. The Crowning Glory
Just before it’s time to step back and admire your handiwork, don’t forget the cherry on top. It’s time to place your Christmas topper on the tree.
There are a variety of Christmas toppers to choose from, and this largely depends on personal taste.
Many opt for a topper with religious symbolism, such as the Star of Bethlehem or an angel.
Some choose a more personalized topper, such as a handmade item one of your children made. This adds a unique touch to your tree, not to mention being extra-special. Christmas is after all about family and loved ones. Can you imagine how pleased your little ones will be to see their creations perched on the Christmas tree? These decorations can be packed away and become family heirlooms. Imagine the stories you would be able to tell your future children-in-law and grandchildren?
Top Tip: Some toppers can be extremely pretty, but also very heavy. Make sure the topper of your choice will stay upright on your tree, otherwise you will find yourself having to adjust a droopy topper throughout the festive season.
At last it’s time to admire your masterpiece, and revel in the festive season spirit.
If you’ve decided to go all out and become a three-tree household, well, then you will have to delay your reveling until a bit later. There’s still more work to be done!
Many households opt for three trees: One for Father Christmas to deposit his goodies under, and for all to admire. Number two is a child and dog proof tree, usually placed in the play room – away from the prying eyes of the Joneses. Number three will be placed in the kitchen, a smaller version of usually a foot tall, perching on the window sill or dresser.
You might have been tasked with not only decorating your Christmas tree at home, but a Christmas tree for a variety of other locations and settings. These tips could help you decorate the perfect Christmas tree for any occasion:
How to Decorate Summer Christmas Tree
If you’re living in the Southern Hemisphere, then a cold and white Christmas doesn’t necessarily apply to you. It’s out with the eggnog and cozy fireplaces, and in with the sun, sand, and sea.
A lot of people celebrating a summer Christmas spend their days holidaying by the beach. So why not make your Christmas tree beach-inspired? You can use shells and nautical-themed decorations, and go with a blue and white theme to suit the seas, or more natural earthy tones, incorporating beach sand into your décor.
This is a great way to make your children part of the Christmas preparations. They can go searching for the perfect shells at the beach, and fill mason jars with beach sand. You can place a tea candle inside these mason jars, wrap a ribbon around, and it would make the perfect decoration for your summer-inspired Christmas. The shells can be hung on your Christmas tree with a simple piece of string. Imagine all the possibilities when you decide on a beach-inspired Christmas tree.
The choices are plenty, but opting for a lighter and more minimalist look might suit the warmer weather, and a smaller Christmas tree would work perfectly.
A wooden Christmas tree will suit the summer weather. It’s usually smaller, easier to cart around, creates an immediate earthy tone, and takes much less time to decorate. You can even go as far as to make your own. There are many tutorials you can find on going about doing this.
How to Decorate Winter Christmas tree
Source: A Pumpkin and a Princess
Traditional winter Christmas tree: Traditional colors of red, green and gold suit a classic White Christmas, and brings the rich warmth so needed while it’s cold outside. In fact, all the traditional Christmas décor goes with a winter Christmas tree. Santa statues, reindeers, and snowflakes all find the perfect place in this setting.
Winter wonderland-themed Christmas Tree: Of course, there’s an array of other color combinations that will suit your winter Christmas tree. Silver, blues and purples also work well for a winter-wonderland look, with yellow and white LED lights lending a more blue hue to your tree.
Source: Home Oh My
Minimalist winter Christmas tree: If minimalist is more your style, white, silver and wooden decorations works well too.
Flocked Winter Christmas tree: A real, lush tree would do well in this setting, or a rather large, artificial flocked tree, decorated with beautiful winter ornaments.
How to Decorate Office Christmas tree
It’s a great idea to share the festive spirit with your employees. What nicer way to brighten their day than a cheerful Christmas tree to welcome their way?
Depending on the size of your organization, you could opt for a smaller tree perched on a table, or if you have the space, a large, elaborate tree greeting employees and guests at reception. Sticking to a Santa and gift theme is a great way to keep things neutral, whilst spreading goodwill and festive spirit throughout the office.
You can even personalize baubles with employee’s names on it, handing it out as gifts when the holidays arrive. Or hang photos of your employees on the Christmas tree, to add that special extra touch that will warm their hearts.
If your work setup consists of cubicles, simply placing some strategic fairy lights across the office will surely brighten their day and lift everyone’s spirits.
How to Decorate School Christmas Tree
Children just love Christmas, and why keep them from reveling in Christmas cheer at school? Counting down the days in anticipation of Santa’s visit is a childhood memory we all share. Make them part of it, by asking every child to make a unique decoration for their School Christmas tree.
Try and keep it uniform, by directing the pupils to a specific type of decoration, e.g. cutout Santa’s they can color in and decorate at will. They will just love being creative, and the Christmas cheer is sure to fill your school.
How to Decorate Shopping Plaza Christmas tree
The shopping plaza Christmas tree is known to be elaborate and extravagant. Less definitely isn’t more, and decorating your Christmas tree with the most interesting and intricate Christmas baubles and décor is key.
Keep in mind the overall look of your tree though – and try to stick with colors that will give an impressive end result. Yes, the detail is important, but people will be seeing this tree from afar, and it has to make a big impression. The theme is up to you, but the more dramatic the better!
You can opt for a wondrous winter-wonderland theme, complete with snow-covered branches in stark white and green colors, or you can go with a rich and lively traditional gold, red and green.
Ensure that you keep symmetry and precision in mind when decorating your Plaza Christmas Tree. Shoppers will be expecting to be wowed by it. You can also be extra creative by using unusual decorations to create a “christmas tree”.
The most important aspect would be: Think Big! Throw in a real-life Santa (and his whole workshop), and you’re good to go.
How to Decorate Christmas Tree Park
The Christmas Tree Park is the birthplace of Christmas Trees. Therefore, whatever décor ideas you have planned, keep this in mind.
Folks will be making their way to your establishment, excited about picking out their very own tree, and it’s great if your décor inspires them to greater heights!
Opt for elaborate lighting, illuminating your establishment from afar. Traditional colors, such as gold, green and red will warm the environment, and the bright colors will be inviting to excited children visiting the park with their parents.
This is a great opportunity to transform your park into a real-life winter-wonderland, with Santa and the reindeers lurking somewhere among the enchanting trees. Remember that you are not only offering families their perfect Christmas tree, but often an experience and memory that will last them forever.
Let them walk away in awe, just like Martin Luther did after witnessing the twinkling stars amid the evergreens, or fill children with excitement and joy, just like Queen Victoria on Christmas Eve. Your customers will be inspired to recreate this at home. You really can’t go wrong, as long as it’s over the top and magical!
Now that you have all the tips to decorate your perfect Christmas tree, you can sit back and admire the beauty – like so many others have done throughout the ages.
A twinkling, sparkly Christmas tree, decorated with love and care, brings joy and magic throughout the festive season.
Happy decorating – and may all your Christmas tree dreams come true!