How To Decorate A Christmas Tree: Step-By-Step Photo Tutorial ~ Tips and ideas for how to decorate your Christmas tree so it is gorgeous, sparkling, meaningful and saves you time!
Decorating a Christmas Tree is one of my favourite things to do at Christmas time! I created this How To Decorate A Christmas Tree: Step-By-Step Photo Tutorial to demonstrate how I create a stunning tree every year! Hope you find it helpful!
There are so many possibilities! Do you get a real tree or an artificial tree? If you get a real tree, do you get one from the tree lot, tree farm or go out into the forest and cut down your own? If it is an artificial tree, do you get one with or without built in lights? Then there are all of the questions about how to decorate the tree. Where does one begin?
Other problems to consider are how much money to spend, how much time will it take to finally complete the whole decorating process and one thing that we don’t always think about and that is to make sure the Christmas tree super safe while it’s on display. We have had a few mishaps with our Christmas trees over the years that we still talk about in our family.
As I have written in my other DIY posts, all of these decisions can be simplified if you start with a plan and a system. So here are my steps for decorating a Christmas Tree that are budget friendly, timesaving and if I might say, create a pretty decorative and safe tree for the Christmas holidays!
Step 1: Choose a Theme For Your Tree
Before starting a décor project I like to start with a general picture in my mind of what I want it to look like in terms of a theme. Having a theme for your Christmas Tree helps narrow down your choices for how you want to decorate it. Having a theme in mind also gives your tree a sense of continuity and a pleasing pattern to look at rather than a random collection of non-related items. Now I don’t want to come across as being super pretentious with a whole bunch of rules for how to and for how not to decorate a Christmas tree. The theme you choose to go with is totally up to you and you can totally have a few themes blended into your tree too! That’s what I do!
Themes can be Crafty, Whimsical, Nature, Textures, Heirloom, Vintage, Splash of Colour, Hand-Made, Memories…. as I said there are no rules. The purpose of the theme(s) if to help narrow down the choices when there are so many possibilities. A friend of mine lovingly called their tree ‘Charlie Brown’ every year.
By the way, notice I didn’t say ‘trendy’. There are so many beautiful new things to buy every year with such fabulous colour schemes. I love the aquas, purples and even the browns. But years ago I chose to stick to a more traditional colour scheme because I knew my budget couldn’t support keeping up with the latest trends. I just change the tree up a bit each year by adding something new and changing a way I do something as you will see!
Let’s see if you can figure out my themes for my tree as you go through the directions. I’ll give you the answer at the end.
Step 2: Set Your Tree Up The Day Before
It’s a good idea to set up the tree the day before the decorating day whether it’s a real or an artificial tree. This is a time to not only let the branches settle but also use this time for a safety check. Does the tree stand support the real tree? Is the structure of the artificial tree still sound. Trust me. Learn from my mistakes. last we put up the 16 year old artificial tree and it was definitely showing its age. After it was all decorated it leaned to one side so we took everything down and ended up buying a new tree. Yup, we had to decorate that tree again. But it did look much better and was definitely much safer!
This is also a good time to make sure all of the strings of lights are working before you start to string them up and if your tree is a pre-lit version, that all of those lights are working too.
Step 3: String Lights Around The Tree (Skip this step if you have a pre-lit tree)
Notice my subheading is ‘around’ the tree. One year I heard an expert speak on a popular talk show and said you got your best effect from stringing the lights up and down the tree so I tried it and I didn’t like it. Instead, what I suggest is to start at the bottom and wind the lights around towards the inside of the tree working your way up to the top. Then wind the lights around the outer branches as you work your way down. This way you get lots of twinkling lights coming from both the inside and outside branches. Much prettier!
Step 4: Hang Little Double-Sided Mirrors
I bought little mirrors at Michaels and glued them together so the mirrored side was facing to the outside with a little piece of green embroidery floss inside. These little mirrors add just a little more sparkle and shimmer to your tree by reflecting the lights.
Step 5: Hang Your Garland
Garland comes in many forms. I prefer to just use simple beads because they are easy to store afterwards and they add to the tree décor. This year I tried something different. Rather than wrap the beads around the tree I draped four red and four gold strands evenly over the top of the tree and just had them drape down the sides close to the bottom. Now my husband and daughters were skeptical about how this would look at first but they changed their minds once the whole tree was completed. They agreed that the cascading look was actually pretty nice and between you and I, it was a lot faster to drape eight long strands over the top than wrap them around and around the tree till you got just the right even and balanced look.
Step 6: Set Out The Ornaments
I haven’t mentioned this yet, but decorating the tree is a family affair in my home where everyone helps decorate. To make the job more organized I arrange all of the ornaments on the kitchen table for easy access. When the kids were little they of course took over the bottom and the adults were in charge of the top. Back then I wasn’t too fussy where they hung them. I was just happy to have their help and as long as they were hung safely.
Step 7: Hang The Ornaments
Hang the ornaments for not only a balanced look but also for an even weight distribution. Here are some of the ornaments I have collected over the years…
It snows where I live so we always have a white Christmas. Snowflakes fall into trees!
What also do you find in trees during the winter? That’s why I have an assortment of birds too!
These translucent icicles also belong in trees especially after one of our chilly cold winter snaps. I like how these ones hang and catch the light!
All of the Christmas balls are either red or gold or a combination of both.
I love anything made with beads! These ornaments just add a nice variety to the tree too.
Step 8: Add Your Tree Topper
I don’t have any good luck with tree toppers and have gone through so many different ones over the years without success. My poor and pricey angels always seemed to flop over and those lovely spikey tall toppers never seemed to stand up straight and tall. So I came up with my own plan. I just made this big bow using two different ribbons. It sits at the top of the tree and smartly hides the beads draped over the top and the long bow ends cascade nicely down the sides of the tree. Phew… super cheap, super easy and no more issues.
Step 9: Add Your Final Embellishment
My final embellishment is these bows that I made from one of the same ribbons that I used in the tree topper bow. These bows are inexpensive and easy to make. I made these several years ago so they store really well too. I wrote a How To Make A Big Bow Photo Tutorial that you can use as a how-to guide to make your own bows. You can buy things like glittery sprays to tuck into your tree too if you are not into bows. That’s the beauty of decorating a tree. The possibilities are endless!
So that’s it! It does take some time to decorate a tree but with a plan and a system it can be a lot of fun to come up with a stunning result. Hopefully, my little tricks and timesavers help with your design process.
By the way, have you figured out my themes? Check out these final photographs to help you with the answer…
My Christmas Tree themes are: Reds, Golds, Translucent, Cascading, Nature in a Tree, Textures to create a Shimmering and Sparkling Christmas Tree!
After you have enjoyed your decorated tree you will have to take it down and store the decorations. This post gives tips and ideas for how to do that …
If you have an artificial tree that can create an interesting storage situation. This post gives you a very smart manageable idea for how to store it …
My Christmas tree was featured in Huffington Post in the article These 21 Christmas Trees Perfectly Match Your Favourite Movies. You will never guess which movie this Christmas tree was matched with1 it is one of my favourite Christmas comedies.
I would so love to hear what your themes are for your Christmas Tree!