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9 Steps to Decorating the Perfect Christmas Tree

parents and child decorating Christmas tree

The holiday season is here, and with an estimated eighty-four percent of Americans decorating, what better way to get festive than by putting together a Christmas tree? A holiday symbol in and of itself, a Christmas tree radiates joy and warmth throughout homes all season long. Done right, decorating a tree is a task that combines creativity, tradition, and a touch of personal flair. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll show you how to decorate a Christmas tree like a professional and capture the magic of the season.

1. Choose a theme.

Before decorating, take a moment to select a theme for your Christmas tree that reflects your style or complements your existing décor and decorations. Popular options include:

  • A classic or traditional color scheme with lots of red and green.
  • Winter wonderland/snow-centric themes with whites and silvers.
  • A rustic and cozy look with natural elements like pinecones and plaid.

No matter which of these Christmas tree ideas you choose, having a cohesive theme sets the foundation for a beautifully curated tree. If you’re having trouble deciding, look to online resources like Pinterest for help or put together a mood board that represents your desired vibe.

2. Fluff your tree.

Whether you have a live Christmas tree or an artificial one, fluffing the branches is a crucial step. This will give your tree a fuller, more vibrant appearance, providing the perfect canvas for decorations. Take the time to spread out each branch, working from the bottom to the top, and create a lush backdrop for your festive ornaments to pop.  

3. String Christmas lights.

Twinkling lights are the heart of any well-decorated Christmas tree. To keep them from getting tangled, start at the side of the trunk of your tree where the lights are plugged in, and work your way up to the crown, distributing the lights evenly as you weave them around the branches. Once you get to the crown, come back down until you make your way back to the tree trunk. Try to alternate your weaving by going under and over each branch. This should evenly illuminate the tree and cultivate a warm and inviting ambiance when plugged in.  

Stringed lights also look great outdoors. Follow our tips for hanging Christmas tree lights around your home!

4. Cut and tuck your Christmas tree’s ribbon.

Add extra pizzazz by learning how to decorate a Christmas tree with ribbon. Pick a ribbon that matches your theme and, starting from the top, loosely wind it down the tree, tucking it into the branches to create elegant, cascading loops. Ribbons can even be layered for additional stylistic effect, putting contrasting designs on top of each other, or adding a ribbon for each of Christmas’ signature colors. Whatever you choose, stack your ribbons from the widest to the narrowest for visual appeal, and use wired ribbon for the best shape and hold.

woman picking gold ornaments out of box

5. Start with big ornaments.

Next, hang your largest Christmas tree ornaments. These statement pieces serve as focal points for decorated Christmas trees, setting the tone for their overall look. Distribute them strategically to achieve a balance of colors and designs and avoid clustering in single areas. By doing this, you establish an interesting look from every angle.

6. Add medium, small, and scented ornaments.

Once your bigger pieces are set, layer in a variety of ornament sizes to add depth and texture. Consider incorporating scented ornaments for an extra sensory delight, infusing your space with the fragrance of the holidays.

7. Fill in the gaps with tree picks.

Tree picks are bendable stems of flowers, berries, and leaves used to add dimension and a hint of nature to Christmas trees. If you use them, intentionally place them throughout your tree so they’re symmetrical from all viewpoints.

Going natural this Christmas? Find out how to make your tree last all season long! 

8. Pick the right tree topper.

Crown your masterpiece with the perfect tree topper. Our favorite options include:

  • A classic star
  • An angel
  • A unique ornament that has personal meaning to you and your family

The finishing touch, a tree topper is meant to tie together the entire Christmas tree.

woman putting red star on top of Christmas tree

9. Finish with a tree skirt or collar.

Before you stack your gifts under the tree, conceal the tree stand with a tree skirt or collar. Decorative coverings with varying designs, like woven baskets and metal drums, tree skirts and collars complete the presentation with a polished base.  

Perfect Your Home for the Holidays

Each step in decorating a Christmas tree should contribute to a harmonious and visually striking result. By following these guidelines for Christmas tree decorating, you’ll transform your tree into a festive masterpiece that not only captures the magic of the season but also reflects your unique style and holiday spirit. That same mindset can create similar results when you take the necessary steps to host your family and friends over the holiday season. Check out our “At Home For the Holidays” guide for more info on holiday hosting done right!