How to Decorate a Christmas Tree

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When it comes to the holidays, there’s no better way to make your home feel warm and festive than to have a beautiful Christmas tree. But making your tree look perfect can be harder than it appears! With tinsel, broken ornaments, and prickly pine needles, decorating for Christmas can feel like a hassle. Fortunately, we’ve got the tips and tricks to make yours look better than ever. We’ve also included some great DIY videos for reference.

Read on for the top tips and tricks for decorating your Christmas tree this year.


Step 1: Hang the Lights

A good way to estimate the amount of lights you’ll need is to use the guideline of 100 lightbulbs for every foot. So, an 8-foot tree will need roughly 800 lights.

Start by setting up an extension chord. You want it so that when the end of the string of lights comes down, it’s behind the trunk, tucked out of sight. An easy solution so you’re not on your hands and knees everyday is to get a foot-controlled button for your lights.

Begin from the base of the tree and work your way up. (An alternative method is to begin by wrapping the lights tightly around the trunk from the top, as seen in the video above.) Another tip? Leave the Christmas lights on so you can see how everything looks as you’re going. Also try to avoid any obvious patterns– the objective is to make it look random. Play around with depth, too– reach some lights back further into the branches and place others closer to the front.

Better Homes and Gardens suggests mentally dividing the tree up into three triangular sections from top to bottom. Then weave the lights back and forth across one section. Do the same with the other two.

There are many options when it comes to the kind of lights for your tree: LED lights consume less energy, and typically have smaller bulbs that blend in with the tree. C-bulb light strings are a classic choice, and can be extremely vibrant. To read about the 10 Best Types of Christmas Tree Lights, click here.

If you want a LOT of lights: Start at the bottom of your tree, and string lights along the bottom of each branch. When you get to the end of the branch, loop the string around the top of the branch. At the trunk, wind to another branch and repeat the process. On the taller branches (higher up on the tree) do the opposite. String the lights on the top of the branch, then loop it back around the bottom. This Martha Stewart reccomendation works great especially with white Christmas lights for a natural looking feel.


Step 2: Garlands and Ribbons

After the lights are done, you’ll want to string your garland and ribbons. (Note, if you have a tree topper, put this on BEFORE the tinsel and ornaments!) Tinsel is another option, and should be used if you want to add shimmer to your tree, while garland is thicker and wraps around the tree. The quick tip from Howcast when it comes to tinsel is to commit to hanging one piece at a time. Also, don’t hang more than 5 or 6 strands her branch.

When it comes to ribbon, there are many types out there: wired, not wired, burlap, etc. Wired is typically the easiest kind to incorporate into your tree, but it all comes down to preference in the end. If you love grosgrain ribbon, try mixing it in with the wired ribbons.

When using garland, buy about 10 feet for every foot of the tree. Begin draping garland from the top of the tree.

Step 3: Ornaments

Start with your favorite ornaments– the must-haves that you want everyone to see! Place these in prime positions around the tree. Next, move on to the larger ornaments. These clunkier pieces should be placed evenly around the tree. Next, fill the holes in with medium ornaments, followed by smaller ones. You should add ornaments at different depths on the tree– some closer to the trunk and others closer to the front. If you’re not sure what kind of tree you’re going for in terms of theme, mercury glass ornaments go well with anything.

Clip on ornaments and glass pieces (like icicles) should be added last.


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