How to Decorate Your Christmas Tree

Trim Your Christmas Tree Like a Pro

Trim the Tree Like an Expert

When it comes to making your home festive and merry, a beautifully trimmed Christmas tree is undeniably the centerpiece of your holiday decorating efforts. Festooned with lights, ornaments, ribbons, and shiny baubles, it becomes the focal point of the room. We sit by it in the evening, enjoying the calming and magical effect of the lights as we relax after a long day in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Then on December 25th, it becomes a place to gather around as gifts are exchanged and unwrapped.

Because the Christmas tree is the most important element in your home during the holidays, we want to create a tree that co-ordinates with the style of your home while becoming the star of your seasonal decorations. Creating the perfect tree may seem daunting, but all it takes is a little know-how and a few easy-to-follow steps to decorate your tree like a pro.

Decide on a Theme

Before you even begin decorating your tree, determine a design theme to create a central look that ties all the decorations together. Your choice of theme will set the tone for your materials and gives you a clear idea on what to use when decorating your tree. The possibilities are endless but here's some common trends to help inspire you.

Traditional Christmas Tree

Classic & traditional

You can never go wrong with relying on Christmas traditions that harken back to earlier times. A classic way to decorate a traditional tree is to incorporate time-honored touches such as heirloom ornaments passed down through the generations, gingerbread men, incandescent, colored lights, simple garlands, and a lighted star on top.

Rustic & farmhouse

Give your tree some country charm by jazzing it up with farmhouse themed ornaments and rustic accents. Plaid or buffalo check bows, cranberry or wood bead garlands, a quilted tree skirt, and clip-on candlestick-style lights, and homespun ornaments, and a galvanized metal star.

Neon bright & trendy

Quirky and fun, you can buck tradition and go colorful with a neon-bright tree. Pink, blue, red, and silver are just some of the colors you'll find in tree designs. Opting for vibrant colors make a playful statement and make your holiday décor festive yet funky.

Organic & minimalist

If you like a clean, minimal look, decorate sparsely rather than covering the entire tree in ornaments and decorations. Instead, opt for just a few types of decorations in a one color family or design to keep it simple and low-key. You can adorn your tree in pine cones and simple laser-cut wood ornaments for example and use lights sparingly to let the natural beauty of the tree itself take center stage.

All-white with a color accent

An all-white Christmas tree makes an eye-catching foundation for a single accent color such as red, blue, or wintery silver. Elegant and calming, this design also evokes a bit of glamor without being overly glitzy.

All White Christmas Tree

Red & green

A perennial favorite, a tree that uses a red and green ornaments is always a classic. Keep it fresh by layering softer green leaves through the branches and add touches of white or gold as accents.

Elegant silver & gold

Create a tree that evokes a frosty winter wonderland with elegant silver and gold ornaments against a background of sparkling white mini lights. Start with a white, flocked, or traditional green tree and layer it with metallic baubles, white poinsettia picks, and silver and gold garland or ribbons.

Coastal chic

Whether or not you live by the shore, you can bring a bit of the beauty of the beach to your Christmas tree. Showcase a collection of coastal ornaments like seashells, blue, white, or silver ornaments, and a starfish tree topper add a coastal chic look.

Coastal Christmas Tree

Pick Out a Tree

The first step to decorating for the Christmas holidays is to select a tree. You can buy a pre-cut natural tree, go old-school and cut your own down from a tree farm, or purchase a good-quality artificial tree that you can use for years to come. A Christmas tree made from premium materials will last longer, look more realistic, and provide sturdy support for all your decorations.

Artificial trees come in a wide selection of styles, sizes, colors, designs, and tree varieties from fir, spruce, and pine. They come unlit so you can add your own strands of lights or pre-lit and strung with multi-color lights, white lights, or a combination of both in either incandescent or LED. Pre-lit trees make decorating more hassle-free since they save you the time and effort of hanging your own lights. For small spaces, you can even opt for pencil trees with slimmer profiles, half-tree that sit flush against a wall, or even tabletop trees for when floor space is not available for a standard tree.

If using an artificial tree, select a tree with a high branch count for a fuller look. The better quality trees use branches molded from PVC to mimic the real thing for the outside layer with PE branches closer to the trunk to act as filler. After unboxing the tree and assembling it, make sure you fluff and shape each branch so they fan out and cover as much area as possible and cover any gaps. It can be time consuming, but the end result is more than worth it. Once the tree is set up and fluffed, it's time to get to the fun part…decorating.

Christmas Tree with Beaded Garland

Start by Hanging the Lights

Unless your tree comes pre-strung with lights, the first step to trimming your tree is to add strings of lights. You can use LED, mini lights, incandescent, globe lights, bubble string lights, or even retro-style larger bulbs depending on the look you want. Incandescent lights come in a wide variety of sizes and color and many can also be used outdoors. LED tree lights tend to cost a little more, but they stay cool, are fireproof, and a safe option for both real and artificial trees. Globe lights produce a softer glow than mini lights and their light covers a larger area than mini lights. Bubble lights which are small tubes with bubbles floating up and down in liquid are a great choice for a more modern, retro look. For a fun look, you can also use themed novelty lights.

Whatever type of light you choose, use the plug as a starting point, wrapping it around the tree's trunk and working your way up from the center of the base of the tree. Wrap the string of lights evenly around the branches nearest to the trunk, then weave it up from the middle of the crown. At the crown, weave your way back down, arranging the lights out further out on the branches. Continue weaving until you reach closer to the tips of the outer branches. For the best look, aa general rule of thumb is to use 100 lights per foot of tree, so for a six-foot tree, you would want to use six 100-count light sets or three 200-count light sets.

Drape It with a Garland or Ribbon

There are no hard rules when it comes to adding a garland or ribbon to your tree. Garlands come in a wide array of choices including beaded designs, paper, foil tinsel, and embellished with faux berries, florals, glitter, and more. Use at least nine feet of garland per each foot of tree height to ensure you have proper coverage without bare areas. You can wrap your garland in a variety of ways. Start at the top of the tree and work your way down in a spiral pattern around the tree.

Drape it in gentle swags for a softer, more graceful look. Create a crisscross pattern with intersecting diagonal lines. Hang it vertically (more commonly used with ribbon-style garland) with twists and subtle curves as it drapes downward. For vertically hung ribbon, you can add a large bow at the top in place of a traditional star or angel tree topper.

Christmas Tree

Hang the Ornaments

Now comes the fun part, hanging the ornaments. Make trimming the Christmas tree a family tradition by getting everyone involving in decorating the trees. The selection of ornaments you choose is up to you. You can pick ornaments based on a theme, color, or style for a more unified look. You can collect ornaments from your travels or use ornaments saved over the years as special mementos from important events or occasions in your life.

Whatever style of baubles, balls, and decorations you choose, make sure you pick ornaments based on your tree size. The larger the tree, the bigger the ornaments you can use. Smaller trees will look overwhelmed by over-sized ornaments and conversely, small ornaments may not be visible on larger trees.

If your family has small children or pets, you may want to place shatterproof ornaments near the bottom or in high-traffic areas. Hang the delicate heirloom ornaments closer to the top out of harm's way. If desired, add some tree picks as subtle accents to complement the entire look. These pieces come in the form of decorated branches, twigs, berries, and pine cones. Those with bendable stems make them easier to shape and attach to the tree branches.

Add a Tree Topper

The crowning touch for any Christmas tree is a tree topper. This ornamentation is placed on the very top of the tree to create a focal point. Traditionally, tree toppers are in the form of a star or an angel, but many other designs from elegant to whimsical are available. Many are designed with added lights inside with a plug that connects to an outlet on your light string designed for this purpose. The tree topper will attach to the uppermost branch of the tree via a metal coil that covers the branch or a spring clamp that clips to it. When choosing the height of your tree, make sure you leave enough space between the tree top and the ceiling to accommodate whatever topper you use.

Finish It with a Tree Skirt or Tree Collar

Either a tree skirt or a tree collar is a popular accessory that not only hides the tree stand from view, it also enhances the overall appearance of your tree's décor. A fabric skirt also provides a layer or protection for your floor from fallen pine needles from a real tree while a wicker or metal collar adds color and texture. Both tree skirts and collars give you a decorative backdrop for the beautifully wrapped Christmas presents arranged under the tree.

With Christmas just around the corner, it's time to start planning how you will decorate your tree. Check out Riverbend Home's broad selection of trees, wreaths and garlands. ornaments, holiday home décor, lights, tree skirts, faux florals, Christmas outdoor décor, stockings, Christmas collectibles, and holiday supplies. You'll everything you need to make your home festive and holiday ready.