How to decorate the perfect Christmas tree

It’s officially December, which means, the pressure is on and it’s time to put up the Christmas tree. You’ve likely already dug out all of the tree decorations from the basement, and maybe your tree is already sitting pretty in your living room. But are you stuck like sap on a branch and don’t know where to start? If you’re looking for easy tips, you’ll love this step-by-step guide on how to decorate the perfect tree. Now, let’s get to work!

First things first: Find the right spot for your tree

  • You’ll need an outlet nearby to safely plug in your tree.
  • Consider putting away some furniture to make room for the tree. For me, that meant to temporarily move a floor lamp and small end table to a spare bedroom.
  • Avoid high-traffic areas, but do place your tree where it will have high visibility – within your house, and for your neighbours too!

The tree skirt 

Instead of using a traditional cloth tree skirt, I used a galvanized metal collar (it has no bottom). It’s perfect to hide the electrical cords and the base of the tree. Once the holidays are over I’ll use it for one of my indoor trees.

About the tree

I bought a 6 1/2′ pre-lit faux spruce tree. I personally prefer artificial over fresh because it requires less work (no watering, no dry needles to pick off the floor) and also because I feel it’s better for the environment. With that said, to each their own – it’s a matter of preference, and traditions too!

When setting up the tree, I realized I should have bought a taller one to fill more of the wall space. To solve the problem, I simply jacked it up on a box by 6″ or so (the box is hidden in the collar) and I topped it off with a tall tree-topper – now my tree is 7 1/2′ tall. Yay!

Fluff up the branches

After spending months in a box, the tree branches will look pretty flat so they’ll require some major fluffing to bring back its shape. Don’t skip this step, it’s easier to fluff before hanging any ornaments.

Next, turn on the lights to make sure they all work. I know, it seems like common sense but you’d be surprised how many people skip this step and sure regret it.

When decorating the tree, you can either have the lights on or off. I usually decorate with the lights off and turn them on occasionally as I’m adding layers to the tree to assess how the ornaments look when the lights reflect on them. For some, only turning on the lights at the very end brings a moment of celebration, like an official Christmas kick-off, and that’s fun too.

Finding a decorating theme for your tree 

My living room is decorated in grey, black and white with hints of gold. I chose a color palette of white, gold, silver and champagne for my ornaments that would fit in with my décor or enhance it (versus clashing with it). For example, the traditional red, green and white would not have been the right choice for my space.

Make an inventory of what you already have

I unpacked the ornaments that I already had and laid them all out on a rug (a soft surface to avoid breaking any of them).

If you can lay them out right by your tree, it’ll make it easier to grab the ornaments as you’re decorating.

I eliminated all of the red and green ones because I decided they weren’t part of my color scheme (for this year anyway) and sorted out the others by color and size. As you can see, I had a lot of gold ones. Don’t fret, if you can’t use all of your accessories, you can alternate and use them next year.

I picked my favourite ornaments, and planned to put them on the outer edges of the branches (so that I could show them off)! The others, I would use as fillers (see explanation below).

Where to hang the ornaments

Start from the top and work your way down. Hang your filler ornaments right inside the tree branches. This will give depth to your tree and make it look fuller too. Don’t be afraid to get right in the heart of the tree, where the ‘trunk’ is.

Here’s my tree with ball fillers in place and with the lights on.

Hang your favorite ornaments last 

Next I hung the larger ornaments, and the ones with different shapes and textures on the outer edges of the branches. Those are the ones that people will notice the most – your expensive ones!

To add softness to the tree collar, I displayed a garland of pretty little white houses on sheep skins. When it’s on, the light brightens up that corner of the room. I just love it!

Christmas accessorizing

To add a festive touch to the rest of the living room, I added a couple of red cushions that scream Christmas without blatantly saying “Merry Christmas” on them. The look is subtle yet very festive. 

I couldn’t resist adding a red nose and a red and white garland to the reindeer hanging on my gallery wall. It’s playful and so appropriate for the holidays, wouldn’t you say so?

Overall, the look is very simple yet festive but it didn’t require turning the house on its head to get the Christmas look I was after.

How many ornaments are in the tree?

Believe it or not, I have over 100 ornaments on my tree. Remember, some of them you don’t quite see but they do play an important role in filling and brightening the inside of the tree. Fillers + pretty ornaments = approximately 100.

My favourite Christmas gadget this year  

One of my co-workers, Nicole, introduced me to a great holiday product called the Treemote. It’s a remote for you tree, and at the flick of a switch, it turns the tree lights on or off without having to crawl behind the tree. OMG! It’s genius! Who would have thought?! It works from quite a distance too, so yes you can just imagine kids having fun with it, we did – the big kids. P.S. This is not a sponsored post, I just love inventions that solve a simple problem – and this one does.

Planning for next Christmas 

If there’s anything you know that needs to be replaced next year, make a list and buy those items at the end of this year. You’ll save a ton of money and you’ll be more than ready for next year. On my list for next year: get large ornaments to display on the floor by the tree, reindeer, stars and polar bears. I’ve seen faux marble ornaments that I quite like too, so I’ve got my eyes on those and will be pouncing on them when they go on sale at the end of the holiday season.

A few more tree decorating tips you might find very helpful: 

  • Hang all of the same colored ornaments at once, starting with the fillers. Then move to the next color. It’ll make it easier to spread out the colors and you’ll avoid having 2 or 3 gold ones beside each other.
  • Step back occasionally to assess where your tree needs more ornaments. It’s easier to spot the “holes” when you’re further away. You’ll get a well-balanced tree with equal-sized ornaments on the front, the sides and all around.
  • If you can’t see the back of the tree because it’s against the wall, you can hang less ornaments there. Once again, save the prettiest ornaments to display in the prime location, where they can be seen.
  • Wire Christmas ball hooks are easier to hang than ornaments with a string. The height can be adjusted easily and it an be hooked on a branch versus wrapped around it.
  • Get green hooks over the silver ones, the green one disappear into the foliage of the tree versus standing out.
  • Get a tree topper that is lightweight. It’ll be perched on the flimsiest part of the tree, so if it’s too heavy it won’t hang straight. That’s the ornament that you hang at the very end, it’s like the icing on the cake, or the cherry on top of the sundae. It’s also a tradition for me, and likely many others to do it last.
  • Take a picture of your tree before taking it down so that you can easily recreate the same décor next year if you choose too. Trust me, you won’t remember if you don’t.
  • Less is more. Don’t feel like you have to hang every single ornament you own. Alternate every year if you want to.
  • Put on your favourite Christmas sweater and play Christmas songs when decorating, it’ll put you in a happy festive mood and you’ll be completely inspired. Trust me, it really works, I do this every year.

You know the drill, if you have any holiday decorating tips you want to share, please do so in the comment box below. I love hearing from you.

Happy tree decorating!

Liette Tousignant
Co-Founder of Under The Roof Decorating

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