How to Decorate Your Tree for Christmas

Are you Christmas Decor obsessed like me? Do you love transforming your home into a Winter Wonderland? Does your husband think you are insane as you pull out 12 storage bins worth of decorations from your crawl space? Or, do you struggle to put up any holiday decor this time of year, not even sure where to start?

Either way, I’d like to share with you my top tips on how to decorate your tree for Christmas. (I totally understand that not everyone celebrates Christmas or puts up this kind of decor, this is just what we do at our house. LMK in the comments below what you celebrate and the types of decorations you put out – I’d love to learn!) If you aren’t as Christmas Crazy as me, a single tree is a great way to embrace the season without becoming Santa’s Workshop.

Most of the photos I’m featuring here are from Pinterest because, let’s face it, there’s no better place for some Christmas tree inspo, lol. If you’d like to see some images of my own decor, check out my instagram page!

   

Step One: Select a Location
First thing is to decide where in your house to set up the tree. Keep in mind, this may mean moving or rearranging some furniture to create your ideal setup. Many people like to put a tree in front of a big window so it can be seen from the outside as well. Or you might just want to put it in the room you spend the most time. Scout out some areas of your home and see what makes the most sense to you!

   

Step Two: Determine the Size/Shape/Style of Tree
Now that you have the perfect spot carved out, you need to decide what specifications make sense for the tree. First, real or artificial? There are pluses and minuses to both, but I’ll share with you that we use all artificial trees. I like that I can reuse them for decades and I can manipulate the branches to go where I need them. Sometimes if people are coming over, I spritz a little pine scented room spay near the tree for a little more of the live tree ambiance.

Next comes size/shape. Taking your room into consideration, how tall should your tree be? If you have huge vaulted ceilings, you can afford to do a much taller tree. If your space is somewhat small, you might need a smaller/slimmer style of tree rather than a big, full, bushy tree.

Short and Fat
Tall and Skinny

Lastly, what style are you going for? There are certain trees that definitely have a certain look that may dictate the style of ornaments – white tree, flocked tree, rustic tree with integrated pinecones/berries, etc. If you aren’t sure exactly what decor style you are going to go for, or want to switch it up year to year, I’d look for a tree that has a neutral look to it.

White Tree
Flocked Tree
Standard Pine Tree

Also, if going artificial, you will want to decide on pre-lit vs. something you will light yourself. I’ve done both – just keep in mind when pre-lit trees start to have burned out bulbs (typically non-LED style) it can become a huge headache to get them working again.

So now you are ready to take a trip to the woods or to Michael’s and select your tree, lol. There are usually good deals around Black Friday and you can always score a great sale after Christmas for the next year.

   

Step 3: Assemble and Fluff
If you went with the artificial tree, you now need to follow the directions on how to stack all the pieces and secure them into the base – usually pretty obvious. If you went real, you need to get it in a base and make sure you have a way of providing water to the tree. 

Next, Fluff it Up! This is my favorite thing about artificial trees. You can spread out all the branches and really fill in any gaping holes in the tree creating a nice, symmetrical shape. Obviously this isn’t possible for a live tree, so you will just want to rotate it until it is showcasing it’s best side.

   

Step 4: Choose a Style
So by now, you probably have some idea of the decor style you want to go with. If not, hop on Pinterest and browse until you find some pictures of trees that you are drawn to. Some styles are:

  • Classic Style – Red and Gold Color Scheme, beaded garland, bows
  • Rustic Style – Pinecones, berries, wood ornaments
  • Modern Style – More minimal, nontraditional color scheme like blues or pinks
  • Vintage Style – Pastel type colors with collectors ornaments
  • Glam Style – As shiny and glittery as you can get! More feminine
  • Kid Tree – All the handmade and child friendly things 🙂
  • A million more combos and ideas!!! My mom has a white tree with hot pink and bright blue flamingos and feathers – anything goes!
Classic Red and Gold
Rustic Style
Feminine and Glam
Modern Blue and Silver

   

Step 5: Shop Until You Drop
So if you are in fact starting from scratch, you now have the task of shopping for all the ornaments and decorations for the tree. Since you have a decor style and color scheme in mind, you are ready to brave the stores and see what might fit with your scheme. My favorite stores for Christmas tree decorations are Target, Michael’s, Jo-Ann’s, and Hobby Lobby. Here are some of my tips:

  • Stores will typically lay out their products according to design/color/theme anyway, so see what area of their displays you are drawn to. It might be something you didn’t expect. They often showcase their products on actual trees, so that will help you visualize what it will look like.
  • I always look for the big value set of ornaments first. A set of round ornaments in 3 colors is pretty common at most stores. Start there and then build. These are your foundation.
  • Once you have the bulk of value ornaments, pick a couple boxes of fancier, unique, or special ornaments. These are the special jewels of the tree.
  • Then consider what fillers you want. This could be sprigs you just stab into the tree – glittery branches, pinecones, berries, etc. Or you might want ribbon or bows, especially if you are going more Classic. You could also find a garland of colorful beads. These items provide a different set of textures to the tree so not everything is ornaments.
  • Look for a variety of sizes when it comes to all of your decorations. You will want a mix of shapes and sizes of ornaments to add dimension and perspective to the tree.
  • You almost always need more than you think, and in my opinion, more is more when it comes to Christmas trees! 
  • Make sure if you need lights for your tree, you pick those up as well. Again, there is a huge variety of options – white, colored, blinking, etc. – so choose something that goes with the look/theme of the overall decor style you’ve chosen. 
  • Consider if you want a special tree topper or something to crown the top of the tree – star, angel, unique ornament of some kind, etc.
  • Pick up a coordinating tree skirt to cover up the base of the tree making sure the circumference is a good scale for the tree. An 18″ skirt isn’t going to work on a 12′ tree. You want the skirt to be about the same size as the lowest set of branches, plus or minus. 
  • Think about any special electrical cords, plugs, timers, remotes, etc. that you might want to make your life easier. We plug all of our trees into Alexa outlets so we can just say “Alexa, turn on Christmas” and everything in our whole house lights up!
  • Don’t forget to pick up a large storage bin for all of your new purchases! I have one bin for the decorations of each tree I have and I label it with the theme or color scheme on the outside, ie. Plum/Bronze tree, so it makes setting up next year a breeze. We also get huge, rip-free bags to store our trees in because you know you are never going to be able to stuff them back into the box they came in!
Colorful Lights
White Lights on a White Color Scheme
Great variety of ornaments/decorations
Whimsical Elf Tree Topper

Step 6: Get to Work!
You’ve done the hard parts – namely braving the store during the holiday season – and now you are ready to rock and roll! But first, make sure you tell Alexa to play some Holiday Hits for you! Here are the order of operations that I decorate by:

  • Lights – I start at the bottom and work my way to the top. Don’t pull to tight, let them wander throughout the branches row by row. If you have some extra by the time you get to the top, just start working back down a little less densely and more spread out.
  • Tree topper – While it is more momentous to make this the final step, it’s much easier and safer to do it first before there are ornaments in your way. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did this first!
  • Ribbon, Garland, Bows, and/or Sprigs – If using any of these non-ornament decorations, I do these next. Ribbon or Garland are similar to the lights, so apply a similar process. Bows and Sprigs are good hole fillers, so see where those might be useful and add them in.
  • Feature ornaments – I like to go in with my special or fancy ornaments first to make sure they get equally distributed since I don’t have a ton of them and so they also get all the “good spots” on the tree. If you have kids or pets, you will want to focus these in the midsection and top of the tree to avoid them being pulled off and broken.
  • Value ornaments – I work my way from my favorite or featured ornaments down to the value ones. While these might not be the standout ornaments, they are super important in filling up the tree. Think about placing them at all depths of the branches so you add some dimension to the tree. If you have different colors/finishes, try to not put all the same types right next to one another. This sounds obvious, but somehow my husband always manages to fall into this trap, sigh. 
  • Sizing – Remember we bought a variety of sizes of ornaments? You will want to focus the smaller ornaments mostly towards the top of the tree and the larger ones towards the bottom with a little intermixing here and there. This gives the proper scale and dimension to the tree.
  • Also remember that if you went artificial, you can continue manipulating the branches to get the ornaments exactly where you want them.
  • Lastly, push the tree into its exact spot and add the tree skirt over the base. Voila! Your tree is done! 
Ribbon can also be draped vertically from top down
No lack of ornaments on this baby, lol!
Cool alternative to a tree skirt!

~Takeaway~ Don’t be a scrooge, get yourself in the Holiday Spirit by putting up a beautiful Christmas Tree. There are SO many ways you can create an awesome tree – which is why I have to put up multiple so I can have all kinds of themes/colors/styles. Really, there is no wrong way to do it, these are just my own personal strategies that have worked for me. I hope they will help you out if you are feeling a little lost or stressed. 

Please share in the comments below the types of Christmas trees or other Holiday decorations you put up at your house, I love hearing how everyone celebrates! 

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8 thoughts on “How to Decorate Your Tree for Christmas

  1. This is a great, very informative post! I always go artificial and actually bought a flocked tree this year! I added big red flowers and frosted berry sprigs in addition to the ribbon and ornaments!

  2. I have cats and a puppy… so as pretty as my tree was decorated, they keep getting into it. So our decorations are slowly but surely moving up the tree! 🙂 These are amazing and packed with great tips. I really prefer the trees that are short and fat but I feel like we need a skinny one in our house right now. Way too much furniture!

  3. Wow Laura, some of these decorations are beautiful. I would love to get some new fancy decorations but I can’t convince my wife to do so. Any how thanks for sharing these tips with us. I hope that you have a great day!

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