I love decorating my Christmas tree. I love looking at it all month in December. I won't lie -- I also love the "oh wows" I get from guests when they walk in the door. I'm kinda good at the Christmas tree thing.
I'm here to tell you that anyone can learn to decorate a Christmas tree like a pro -- because this skill did not come naturally to me. Nope, I took a class years and years ago taught by someone that staged greenery for a living and learned some very valuable tips to take my tree to the next level of Christmas decorating.
Here's the number one thing to remember when trimming your tree: More is more. There is no such thing as too many ornaments. Next time you're at a Christmas boutique or holiday party, take a moment to look at how many ornaments are actually on those trees -- there's practically one on every branch! It's crazy, but I swear it works.
Ok, now let's get busy.
First off, let me say that pre-wired artificial trees are the bomb. I got this new one at Costco last year when my old one finally burnt out after a decade.
Please ignore the extra junk in the picture. I'm good at Christmas trees, not housekeeping.
If you don't have a pre-lit tree, you'll need to start with the lights. Begin at the bottom and try to work your way in a spiral, keeping the cord close to the branches, rather than draping it. Go back and forth from trunk to branch tips, and just keep winding. Curse often. Vow to buy a pre-lit tree next year and get that magical evergreen smell from a wreath.
Next secret: Ribbons. I have four different kinds I use, because variety is the spice of life. There's a silvery mesh one, a sheer gauzy one, a glittery sparkly one, and an embroidered one that I didn't buy a lot of because it was hella expensive and have regretted being cheap every year since.
Cut the ribbons in different lengths to make weaving them through the branches easier. When dismantling, just roll up the pieces and store them with your ornaments. Make sure you put them on top so you can start with them next year.
Now the plain, filler ornaments. Get yourself a few dozen plain-ish bulbs in two to three complementary colors. Did I say a few dozen? Several dozen. Start hanging. Really reach in there and hang along the whole branch, not just on the tips.
Stand back frequently to see which areas need filling in.
I have pearlescent ones and also these really cool disco-ball-looking ones that I love.
Get a spray bottle for the cat.
Once you've filled in with the "background bulbs," hang your fancier, more decorative pieces on the outermost branches. It helps to have a fair amount of similar-looking ornaments -- it will tie all the keepsake ones into a cohesive tree.
Be sure to get some helpers.
Try to stick with an underlying theme. I like butterflies.
Getting there. Please note that in years past, I wouldn't have had so many random clashing ornaments, but alas, they make my kids happy, so I threw Christmas tree perfectionism out the window.
Now the secret sauce -- are you ready? Sparkly filler.
Buy these types of things at Michaels or wherever you buy fake flowers. Snip up larger branches into fist-sized pieces and then just gently tuck them into the tree branches. They just kind of sit there, no need to secure them with anything. You can use anything you like -- my mom sometimes puts gold magnolias in her tree.
Ta-dah! You are a Christmas genius.
How is your tree decorated?
Images via Jenny Erikson