The Christmas lights have been turned on in town for weeks, and now everyone is asking the same thing: “Do you have your tree up yet?” For some, decorating the Christmas tree is a highlight of the year; for others, it’s a bit of a faff. To make the process as enjoyable and simple as possible, we’ve put together the ultimate guide on how to decorate a Christmas tree!
Select Your Tree
First things first: what kind of tree do you want? Real or artificial? A fir or spruce? If you’re going with an artificial, do you want a traditional green, or something a little more daring, such as white or purple? Do some research: some real trees shed more and some artificial trees look more real than others.
Also, know your measurements! Bring a measuring tape with you when you go to buy your tree, and take note of your ceiling height beforehand to make sure the one you buy fits in the room!
Find the Right Spot
So you’ve found your perfect tree. You’ve just about got it inside, and you find yourself scratching your head wondering where to put it. This is important. Do you want it where you can see it as soon as you walk into the house? Maybe in the room where you’ll be having Christmas dinner? Or perhaps even in your bedroom?
Whichever room you decide on, place it somewhere away from any vents, open flames or heat sources – to stop it drying out and shedding too many needles or catching on fire! Also make sure it’s not crammed into a space it doesn’t fit.
Once it’s positioned, spend some time opening out the branches. If you’ve opted for a real tree, it may take up to a day for the branches to fall properly. If you have an artificial tree, carefully spread out the branches and make sure there are no gaps. If there are, just twist the tree so the fullest side is facing the busiest part of the room.
Create a Theme
This is where you can start getting creative. Whether you like sticking to tradition, or you’re a Merry Maverick, your Christmas tree should show off your personality.
Think about what colours would look good together, what kind of baubles you could use, what colour lights you like. Decorating your tree is no different to getting a new piece of furniture; it should suit the space. Reds and golds are a classic, whites/silvers and blues give a snowy, clean look, and black decorations with white lights can give a classy, elegant feel.
Lights first. Before you put them on the tree though, plug them in to make sure they work – there’s nothing worse than realising they’re broken only after the tree is decorated. Once you’re sure they work, start at the top of the tree and nestle the lights into the branches so as to hide the wires. If you’re unsure of how many lights to use, the general rule of thumb is ‘the more the merrier!’
Next come the decorations. Start with the centre column of the tree. Put plain, simple baubles nearest the trunk. This will set the colour theme and give the tree depth. Place any expensive or fragile decorations nearer the top. They will draw the eye to the top of the tree, and will protect them from any children or pets that may be tempted to play with them!
Lastly, a finishing touch: the topper. Traditionally, this would be a star, to represent the star that led the Wise Men to the stable, or an angel, to represent the Angel Gabriel. Crowns are also very popular. However, there are endless choices. If you’re looking for a less religious option, birds, such as owls or peacocks, add a beautiful flourish to any tree.
Cover the Base
Complete the look by hiding the base with a wicker basket, handmade patchwork quilt, or a tree skirt. It will not only dress up the stand, but also catch any needles, saving you the pain of trying to get them out of the carpet in January. You could continue the decorating, and add a train set around the base of the tree, or maybe surround it with some wrapped presents. Place some cushions or a soft chair next to the tree to make the perfect reading nook on those cold winter evenings.
Get Everyone Involved
If you have children or young family members, give them their own part of the tree to dress how they wish. Or, why not make a party of it and invite some friends over? Make some mulled wine or hot chocolate, play some music and games, and start the festive season as you mean to go on. Not only will it make the whole process more enjoyable, but as the saying goes, many hands make (Christmas-)light work.
Keep It Safe
Decorating is fun but it’s important to be responsible, too. If you’re buying an artificial tree, make sure it’s fire resistant. Opt for LED lights as they don’t heat up as much as traditional lights, and they can save you some electricity bills. If you’re using extension cords, avoid having more than three plugs in one unit at a time, as having too much power draining from one outlet can be very dangerous. Also keep all power sources up and away from the tree base to stop water coming into contact with the power source. Finally, do not leave small children or pets unattended with the tree!