1.Choose a tree
Your tree is your canvas, so it’s important to select a good one — gorgeous ornaments can do only so much for a scraggly tree. Some people prefer the look and smell of a real pine or fir tree, while others like the reliability of a fake one. Your housing rules (in condos, etc.) may also dictate your choice due to fire safety regulations. Whatever you choose, here are some points to think about:
Get a well-shaped tree. If you’re getting a real tree, make sure you see it out of its netting. Look for full, evenly-spaced branches and a symmetric shape that tapers toward the top. If you’re setting up a fake tree and shaping the branches yourself, try to bend them so that you can’t see the inches of space between each layer of branches.Set up a tree stand and skirt. For real trees, you’ll need a tree stand with a deep water reservoir, which you should fill only after the tree is in place. Set up a tree skirt around the floor to catch any falling needles and make clean-up easier later.
Consider a pre-lit tree. If you’ve already decided on an artificial tree, you might want to buy one that already has tiny Christmas lights on the branches. Putting up the lights is the worst part of the process for most people — if you can skip that step, you’ll be able to spend more time and energy on other aspects of decorating your tree.
2.Hang christmas tree lights
The first step in how to decorate a Christmas tree is adding the lights. Tree lights typically come on green or white wire strands; choose the strand color that matches your tree so the wire will be hidden. Illuminating your Christmas tree from the inside out will give it the most dynamic look. Start at the base of the trunk and work your way up, wrapping lights around every major branch, moving from the trunk to the tip and back.
Here are four popular types of lights to choose from when decorating your Christmas tree.
Traditional incandescent lights: These Christmas tree lights, which come in a variety of sizes and colors, are the most popular type of tree lights. They warm up the branches of a real tree, which will release the scent of pine into the room.
LED lights: These Christmas tree lights are newer than the traditional incandescent lights and don’t produce heat. They’re typically more expensive, but they are flameproof, fireproof, and completely safe to put on your tree.
Globe lights: These Christmas tree lights are round and come in many sizes. They look like balls of color on the tree, and while they have a softer glow than mini lights, the light they produce covers a larger area on the tree.
Bubble lights: These retro lights stand straight up on the limbs of your Christmas tree. When the liquid tube on top of the light warms up, bubbles float up and down inside the tube, resembling lava lamps.
Experiment with different lighting schemes until you find one you like — it’s OK to mix and match lights. For example, a background of white or clear lights can be highlighted with strands of colored lights that wrap the outer areas of the tree.
Editor’s tip: Don’t skimp on lights — for every vertical foot of tree, you should use a strand of 100 lights.
3.Pick a color scheme
Sticking to one color scheme will make your tree look cohesive and complete. Keep in mind that you might want to choose something that doesn’t clash with the room the tree is in, and that you might have to concede some space for childhood or heirloom ornaments that clash with the rest of the tree. That said, here are some popular color schemes you could try:
Classic Christmas colors, red and green. Accent the green tree with red ornaments, garlands and ribbons. If you want to add some pizazz with one metallic color, try gold or silver. Red, green or clear lights would work best with this style.
Wintry colors, like blue, silver and purple. Use your tree to imitate the icy, glittering colors of a snowy Christmas. If you choose this scheme, try to avoid mixing in anything red, yellow, or golden. Pick clear or blue lights to go with it. For a truly minimalist winter look, use only white and silver decorations.Metallic colors, such as gold, silver and bronze. The good news is that metallic colors are easy to mix, and you can play with one, two or three. They’re best accented with clear lights.Cool or warm colors. If you want a tree that’s a little more diverse, try sticking to colors that are either cool (with blue undertones) or warm (with red undertones). For instance, a warm tree might feature red, orange and gold decorations; a cool one could have green, purple, blue and silver.
4.Add christmas tree garlands
There are no firm rules when draping garlands on your Christmas tree. To avoid the “sausage effect” (branches bulging between tightly cinched garlands), start at the top of the tree and slowly increase the amount of garland between each wave as you work your way down the branches. Plan to use about two strands of garland for every vertical foot of tree.
To avoid a busy look on your tree, use a variety of garlands from plain to fancy. Thin, beaded garlands look best hung from branch to branch; thicker paper, ribbon, or foil garlands look best wrapped loosely around the entire tree.
5.Put up garlands or ribbons:
Once your lights are up, you can wrap your tree with anything else that should go on beneath the ornaments. What you choose to use will depend on your personal taste, but consider these points:
Avoid fluffy tinsel. Fluffy strands of tinsel were a mainstay of mid-century Christmas trees, but they’ve fallen out of style lately. If you’re a tinsel die-hard or you like the shimmery look, try smaller wire-based garlands that feature smaller pieces of foil, usually cut into shapes like trees or stars.
Plastic icicles are difficult to do right. Like tinsel, strands of plastic icicles with small lights inside them used to be more common. If you’ve used them successfully in the past, you probably know how to pull it off without making the plastic really noticeable; if not, though, choose something else. Icicles are now available in glass and tin and both add shine to your tree.
If you like popcorn garlands, keep them white. That means: no pre-buttered popcorn. For a look that’s as elegant as possible, pop the corn yourself so that it’ll be a nice wintery white, instead of yellow-tinged.
It’s hard to go wrong with metallic or plastic beaded garlands. As long as you choose a color that fits your scheme and a size that’s dainty, strings of metallic beads or stars will probably look great on your tree. Distribute them evenly along the outer branches of the tree, similar to the way you put up the lights.
Use wired or mesh ribbon. If you want to put up a ribbon garland, make sure you choose a kind that will hold its shape instead of flopping over. Choose medium width, so that the ribbon is still wide enough to see from afar, but not so large that weaving it around the tree is difficult. Add small bows, evenly distributed along the length of ribbon, to make it look even better.
6.Add a topper
Putting on the topper before the ornaments might seem crazy, but think of it this way: you don’t want to be calling “Timber!” on a tree loaded with precious glass ornaments if something goes wrong. What kind of topper you choose depends on the theme and look of your tree, but here are some popular options:
A pretty bow
Imitation holly leaves and berries
A large snowflake
A Christian cross
7.Add ornaments last
Since ornaments are the most delicate and moveable decoration, it’s best to add them after the rest of your tree is settled. Work from top to bottom, and try to distribute them evenly. Remember to place some a few inches back into the tree, to give it a little depth.
If you’re using a mix of bulb ornaments and specialty ornaments, add the bulbs first. Think of them as your base. Then you can choose where to distribute stand-out ornaments, so they’ll both easily seen and integrated with the rest of the tree.
Consider the bottom of the tree. If you have pets or small children, you might want to avoid placing anything too precious where it can be easily pulled down. Instead, consider filling in the area with extra lights or garlands.
You can even use things that aren’t strictly for the tree. Candy and other treats are a traditional addition and popular with kids. Also try natural objects like pine cones and fruit.