It’s the most wonderful time of the year and the time you see social media flooded with photos of gorgeous decorated trees. I know so many people struggle to get the look they want and I want to break it down here to make it simple.
1. The first step is obvious but you will set up your tree and fluff your tree. This is a VERY important step that should not be missed. It will make a huge difference to the final look.
Tips for fluffing: start at the bottom and work your way up by pulling apart all of the branches. Spread them out to create a full effect. An additional step I do is take a few individual branches and create “motion”. I like to bend the middle in the air and then the tip downward slightly, to resemble a real branch that looks heavy.
2. If your tree is pre lit then plug in to make sure lights are working. If it is not, string the lights. I always buy prelit but if I was stringing lights on I would start at the bottom and work from the back of the tree to front per branch, always resetting to the back of the tree.
3. Place your skirt/collar/etc on the bottom and your topper on the top. This will save you from having to do either when your tree is complete and bumping an ornament.
4. I next put any ribbon, tinsel, garland that I want to help create that fuller look on. This is not my finishing ribbon but more so to go inside and in the middle of the tree. For a flocked tree I use a white faux fur ribbon to help create more of a snowy look. For a green traditional tree I use tinsel garland, ribbon, etc. I start at the bottom and wrap around to the top, tucking inside the tree. You should see peaks of it but it should not be sitting outside or on top of the branches.
5. Next up is the large ornaments. Place the largest ornaments throughout the tree to help cover any holes. I tuck mine in, some all the way, some half way to create depth throughout the tree. I carry this up to about 3/4 of the tree. The top 1/4 I do not place any large ones.
6. Next up is mid sized ornaments, these get spread out on the tree, taking it almost to the top. I would say the top 10-15% where its thinnest should be left alone. If you’re unsure, just use you eye to judge. Does it stand out and look funny? Then it’s probably too large for the placement, or needs tucked in a bit.
7. Smaller ornaments is next. Keep any especially special or meaningful ones aside to do last. Spread these out all over the tree and take to the top. Stand back and make sure color/ and the visual weight of the tree is balanced. Adjust accordingly.
8. Now the special ornaments. To keep a tree affordable, I will buy packs of inexpensive bulb ornaments to use for the above steps and then over time collect nicer ones that I want to mix in. This will make your tree look more expensive without having to spend that on every ornament.
I always keep my special and most loved ornaments for last so I can place them more front and center. They should still be balanced out but they will be the ones you see right away and aren’t hidden.
Three Tips when placing ornaments: they should be of varying textures (sparkle, matte, shiny, fabric, etc) and they should appear to hang straight. You shouldn’t place ornaments at an angle, they just look better if they appear to be hanging. Also, I always cut off the ribbon that comes with the ornament and use a thin hook so that it disappears into the tree. You do not want to see how its hanging, just the ornament.
9. Next up are picks. Depending on the style of tree I am doing, I might use picks. These can be stems of flowers/branches/interesting objects/etc. Basically any type of “pick/stem” that you can stick into the tree to give interest, texture and dimension. You can use many different type of picks or one type, BUT, my biggest advice is to use at least 5-7 of each style. It will create more balance if you have 5-7 per style spread out on the tree. The type of pick can greatly change the style of your tree. For example, something with sparkle will make it have more of a glam look while adding berries will give you a more traditional look.
10. Last up is ribbon. Again, depending on the type of look you are going for this can be optional. I like using it to create a full and finished tree. I would recommend only using 1-3 different types of ribbon. (IT NEEDS TO BE WIRED!) I want it to appear cascading down the tree, but that would cost a fortune. So, I make it look like that while saving money and using pieces. I use two methods to create this look. The “spiral” and the “loop”. For both, I cut my ribbon into 10-24 inch pieces. For the spiral, take the ribbon and wrap it around your hand or arm. Then you pull it apart to get that spiral shape, I tuck each corner into the tree gently. For the loop, I take a smaller piece of ribbon and just create a loop by tucking each end into the tree. I start at the top and make my way down to create a zig zag cascading look. Make sure there isn’t an obvious bald spot missing ribbon. It comes down to preference on how much ribbon to add, I would just ensure balance overall.
That is my overall process when decorating a tree. I like to mix up the styles so not every tree looks the same but this full look is my favorite. You can just skip the last two steps if you want a more simple look. Tag me in your tree photos so I can see them and share!