Decorating the Christmas tree is one of my favorite parts of the holiday season, and this year I got to do it twice. Once with my own tree at home, which is now chock-full of ornaments I have collected over the years, both old and new. Then I was given the chance by the folks at Christmas Tree Market to decorate a second one for the charity of my choice. I chose The Child Success Foundation, which provides intensive intervention to middle income families affected by autism.
During this process, you can believe I learned a thing or two about tree decorating. So here are my five strategies to help you with your last-minute yuletide adventures before the big day!
lighting is everything
This is the one part you don’t want to skimp on. I like to wrap every branch going all the way back to the trunk, as this will give you great light dispersion and will make the whole tree glow. A rule of thumb, a 7’ tree should have about 1000 lights. I was also recently looking at a tree that was lit only by wrapping the trunk of the tree with lights, which might be a more modern approach…plus, it’s faster!
don’t be afraid of filler
For years I was a purist about my trees, obsessing over just lights and ornaments. Now I have become much more of a fan of filler pieces like garlands and foil shreds and icicles. Especially if applied inside the tree, these can add a lot of depth and sparkle—and are good extras to add if you don’t already have them.
theme or no theme?
This is sort of the age-old question, but, really—what is a theme? It could be shown through using thematic ornaments, or a strict color palette, or even only handmade ornaments. Over the years, I have collected so many ornaments that have meaning to me, my tree doesn’t have a particular theme. But I think that if you were just starting out, a theme can be a big help. Try a color first, or, as I did with this tree for the Child Success Foundation, I tried to use mostly baubles, and made a garland using them to create drama.
on a tight budget?
The key to working on a tight budget is repetition. It’s okay to have singles of some ornaments, especially if they are unique and meaningful. If that’s not the case, try to use lots and lots of a single type. On this tree I used mostly baubles that I was able to get for an amazing price at the 99 Cents Store, and using a ton of the same type makes for a much bigger impact.
decorating a tree is a team sport
This is not an activity meant to be done alone. Try to make dressing the tree a real family tradition. Put on some Christmas music, make some hot chocolate or egg nog, and gather everyone together. Remember too that when you are dealing with little ones, it may not be perfect, but it will be perfectly special!