12 Magical Decorating Hacks for Your Dreamiest Christmas Tree Yet (PHOTOS)

Caroline Olney | Dec 10, 2015 Home & Garden
12 Magical Decorating Hacks for Your Dreamiest Christmas Tree Yet (PHOTOS)

You know the drill: Open the Christmas tree box, find entire side of tree flattened. Or, saw off stump, only to see gigantic hole in back. Christmas trees are serious business, and no one tree is going to look perfect as soon as you get your hands on it. But there are ways to make your tree look as perfect as you've been dreaming ... if you know where to look.

We've got your holes, bare branches, flat sides, and sappy situations covered: Here are 12 Christmas tree decorating hacks to make your tree magical.


Images via iStock.com/Andrew Rich; Kzenon/shutterstock

  • Add a Base


    It's simple but changes everything: Setting up your tree on a stand (or a table or a cardboard box) adds height and a certain sense of majesty to your tree. Plus, it doubles or triples the gift-stacking room underneath, which we're pretty sure your family will be excited to hear. Fake it Frugal covered the base of her tree with burlap after raising it up to hide the stand, which is a sneaky way to make the whole setup look natural.

  • Fluff


    Image via iStock.com/zoomstudio

    Fluffing might be the most underrated part of Christmas decorating. It'll make fake trees look real and real trees look better -- all you have to do is pull all the small branches backwards so they stick out and give the tree volume. (But when we say all the small branches, we mean it -- really get in there and tug down all the little pieces. It's worth it, trust us.)

  • String Lights Verticallly


    Image via Caroline Olney

    Winding lights around and around and around the tree might be how you've always done it, but this year, try stringing up and down instead. The vertical lines help the lights blend in a little more, and it will make the tree look lit from within (instead of a shell of lights). 

  • Fill It In


    Image via iStock.com/fotohunter

    If you're lucky, your tree has one or two sparse patches. If you're unlucky, you'll get a sad-looking Charlie Brown tree. Either way, tinsel is your secret weapon: Buy a bunch in dark green and wrap around the trunk and inner branches to make your tree look fuller. (Or, if you're feeling fancy, use fake vines or pine garlands for a more realistic look.)

  • Tree Trunk


    Image via iStock.com/ghostdom

    If you're a fake tree fam, try hollowing out a tree trunk and putting it around the base before you put your tree on the stand. Here's a how-to for a DIY Natural Wood Tree Stand on the UO blog. It'll look more natural than a plastic spine and way cooler than a bland skirt.

    If hollowing out a tree is too much for you, though, you could always strip the bark off a tree and glue it to PVC pipe, cardboard, or cloth and wrap that around the base.

  • Cornered


    Image via Elena Efimova/shutterstock

    If you're lazy (and don't want to admit it) or if you have limited decorating supplies, prop your tree up in the corner. This way, you only have to decorate a third of it and it won't attract as much attention if it's not perfect.

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  • Use Ribbon


    Image via Karen Grigoryan/Shutterstock

    You always see ribbons flowing down the sides of Christmas trees in store displays, and we think they have the right idea. Hanging ribbon gives the illusion of height, and it can add a fun pop of color to your tree.

  • Pinecones


    Image via iStock.com/magnetcreative

    Hanging real pinecones like ornaments does two things: First, it'll make fake trees smell nice. Second, it'll make everything look more natural and authentic and filled in ... and kids can turn gathering them from outside into a fun scavenger hunt game.

  • Store Ornaments in Egg Crates


    Image via iStock.com/MariyaL

    If they're too big, plastic cups will work too -- we're really just interested in the separation and protection that sectioning off ornaments like this provides.

  • Hook Your Garlands


    Image via auntpeaches.com

    Why is it that beaded garlands always look great on display tress but so crappy on our own? It's because they know a secret that we don't: Just draping garlands around branches isn't going to do the trick, says Amanda from Aunt Peaches. Instead, use ornament hooks every 20 to 30 inches and hook your garland on branches to get that sought-after swoop.

  • Layer Ornaments


    Image via iStock.com/franckreporter

    Trees will look instantly fuller if you hang your ornaments in layers -- try putting larger and less personal ornaments deep in the branches, and the cute ones you want to show off on the outside.

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  • Make a Lights Hanger


    Image via truevalue.com

    You can make a DIY Christmas light hanger by putting two nails in a V formation at the end of a wooden rod ... ooooorrr you can buy an extendable No-Ladder Holiday-Light Hanging Kit ($22, truevalue.com). Either way, it'll make the hanging process way easier.

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