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Christmas Tree Decorating Ideas

Christmas Tree Decorating

Christmas Tree decorated in red and white


The best Christmas tree decorating ideas and tips to help you create a beautiful holiday tree!

It's easy and free, so find out more now!

I love the Christmas holidays and put up the tree early in the season.

My philosophy is this - Christmas only comes once a year, so I want to enjoy the sights, sounds and scents as much as possible.

We're usually pretty well decorated for the Christmas holiday by the time Thanksgiving weekend rolls around, then enjoy the holiday decor through year end.

No matter when you decide it's time to do the holiday decorating, the tree is the centerpiece of traditional Christmas decor.

There isn't really a 'right' or 'wrong' way to handle this project, but if you're wondering just how to put up and decorate a tree for the holidays, here are some simple steps for you to follow!

Christmas Holiday Decorating Ideas

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Christmas Tree Decorating Idea #1: PUTTING UP THE TREE

Christmas Tree Decorating Ideas

First, decide what kind of tree you will use, real or artificial, and what size will work the best in your space.

I'm always an advocate of natural looking artificial Christmas trees.

You can get just about any size, shape, style and price point desired - it just makes sense. Best of all, the needles don't fall off! If you enjoy a Christmas tree in your home for more than a week or so, an artificial tree is your best bet.

As for the size of your tree, make sure you are taking into consideration:

1) the size room it is going into,
2)ceiling height and
3) the space allocated for the tree.

These are the three things that will determine the size of the tree.

Try to get the most tree out of the space you have. For example, if you have a 20' x 18' Great Room with 12' wall heights, a 7' slim Christmas tree tucked into the corner might look a little lost in the room.

So now you have the Christmas tree. Our next idea is about the process of putting the tree together (we'll assume you have an artificial tree for this section).

Holiday decorating tips

Whether your tree goes together branch-by-branch or in two to three main sections, here is a very important piece of advice: make sure that you fully open and 'fluff' each branch before putting it into the trunk of the Christmas tree.

When I put our Christmas tree up, I literally take each branch and pull every piece of greenery out, rotating some greenery above the branch and some below.

You want the branch to look as real as possible, so a random number of greenery above, below and extending out is a good way to approach the task. This is a rather tedious process, but take your time and the result will be well worth it!

Also, if you are using a tree skirt or any type of protection on the floor, be sure to get that settled early on in this process, for obvious reasons!

When you have all of the branches fully opened and on the tree, step back and look at your work from all angles to see if you've left any 'holes', or branches that need adjusting.

Better to fix them now when there is nothing on the tree - it's much easier. Or, you might notice that the tree needs straightening or turning. Again, make all of these adjustments now, not after the tree is fully decorated.

Here are three distinct Christmas Tree decorating ideas and styles for you to consider. There is no 'right' or 'wrong' way to decorate your holiday home and tree in particular, just preference for what appeals to your spirit and works in your home.

White flocked Christmas Tree
Colorfully decorated Christmas Tree
Traditionally decorated Christmas Tree in gold and white




A white flocked tree creates a snowy holiday atmosphere and works in any style home, particularly rustic, casual decor.

How much fun is this funky, colorful holiday atmosphere, including the Christmas Tree?

If you love the bright, bold and unique approach this look could work for you!

A traditionally decorated Christmas Tree is lovely, and if your home can handle the height, go for it!

An elegant, traditional home shows off this style well.

Christmas Tree Decorating Idea #2: PUTTING ON THE LIGHTS

Your next idea is a fool proof method for putting the lights on the tree. It doesn't matter what style of light or color you select; follow these steps and it will be absolutely beautiful.

NOTE: If you have a pre-lit Christmas tree, feel free to skip this portion!

Family Room decorated for the holidays

First, make sure you test all of your lights before putting any of them on the tree. It's not a 100% guarantee that you won't have any issues down the road, but at least you'll know they work.

You should have a strand of 100 lights for every vertical foot of the tree. So if your Christmas tree is 7 feet in height you should have a minimum of 700 lights. I use more than that on my trees - my 8' tree has about 1,200 lights on it because I put them very close together and enjoy that look.

I also use a multi-outlet surge protector to handle all of the lights, stringing together no more than four strands of lights. It makes turning the Christmas tree lights on and off very simple - just flip the switch on the extension box.

Share your holiday decor with our readers...show off your beautiful home! It's easy...just go to the Holiday Decorating page and complete the simple form. You can upload your photos, too!

Here is an idea that I find very helpful: place the lights on the tree as you are putting on the layers of branches; place the lights on each branch. Have the tree lights turned on while you place them.

Make sure you take the lights all the way to the innermost part of the branch, then work your way back out on the next branch, repeating this process until you have literally circled your way around that layer of the tree. You are using a zig-zag process, if you will.

Depending on the height of your tree, you might want to have a ladder handy to help with the upper layers of branches.

It takes more time, effort and lights to do this, but the result is a Christmas tree that almost glows, because the lights are layered from the inside out.

You can adjust the layering to your preference by stepping back to see your work after two layers of branches.

(If you are planning to use simple, minimal decoration on your Christmas tree, placing the lights in this manner will give you enough warmth, interest and 'glow' to accomplish that look very well.)

Christmas Tree Decorating Idea #3: THE GARLANDS & ROPING

Now for the next holiday decorating idea - the garlands or roping for the tree. Of course, this is optional depending on the style of tree you are creating.

By the way, do you have a particular style, theme or color selection for your Christmas tree? Not sure what to do? Find helpful ideas for Christmas decor.

Christmas Tree, Fireplace and Wreath

There are many different types of garland available, and it's a point where your creativity comes into play. You can fashion Christmas tree garland out of just about anything that suits the style of your tree.

  • Traditional tree roping found in the 'tree trimming' section of your favorite holiday store is always an option.
  • There are many types of beautiful, wide ribbon that has wire inserted into it, so you can shape it as you rope it around the tree.
  • Beads, fabric, silk floral roping, faux berry/natural element roping, etc.
  • Use your imagination!

Beads and narrow roping usually looks best when draped, or swagged, around the tree. The top of the tree should have smaller swags that get larger as you go down the tree.

I have used 6' lengths of roping that has faux leaves, twigs and berries on it (although it could be of any type and style), and I tuck them in throughout the tree. It's a different look than literal roping; it becomes more a part of the tree decor and is a little bit more subtle.

Other types of garlands can be lightly wrapped around the tree.

If you try one method and are not satisfied with the results, try something a little different. Get the result you want before going any further with your Christmas tree decorating.

Christmas Tree Decorating Idea #4: THE ORNAMENTS

Yes, we are finally to the most fun part of the tree decorating - the ornaments. Here is a really important tip, so listen up!

Gather all your Christmas tree ornaments and separate them by size, style, etc. so you know what you have to work with. It takes a few minutes to do this but is well worth the time.

Beautiful Christmas ornaments

Hang your larger ornaments first, using the lower part of the tree for the majority of those. Save the smallest ornaments for the upper portion of the tree.

If you have both matte finish and shiny finish ornaments, be sure to vary them around the tree.

Hang the ornaments on the inside of the tree as well as the outside, just like the lights (although the majority of ornaments will be near the outside of the tree).

Step back and look at your handiwork as you progress, to keep things evenly distributed.

I always like to use fillers on my Christmas trees to cover the inevitable gaps that occur between layers of branches. I use a variety of silk flowers and greenery, birds nests, etc. You can literally use any type of 'filler' that you want, depending on the theme of your Christmas tree.

For example, if your tree has a Victorian theme you could use antique Victorian shoes (lightweight shoes - not boots!) filled with baby's breath.

A cottage style tree could have small painted plastic flower containers turned on their side and filled with silk flowers/greenery. Use your imagination - anything will work as long as it is lightweight.

If you need ideas for roping/garland/filler material, go to a craft store like Michaels or Joann Fabrics, or a landscape supply store that carries a good selection of silks and greenery.

Just about anything that catches your eye and will blend with your color/style/theme for the Christmas tree will work.

Use your imagination with these Christmas tree decorating ideas and have fun!

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