The Christmas tree is the ultimate symbol of the holidays. There’s a peaceful feeling of contentment that happens when you see the lights twinkling through the window as you pass by a stranger’s home.
Having your own tree gives you that same atmosphere every day if the decoration is right.
Everyone has their own “best practice” about how a tree should look. When you have little ones or pets (especially cats), you might feel limited in what you can do. It’s okay — you’ll get to have the full tree experience soon enough!
But if you’re looking to create a stylish tree without limits, this guide will lead you like Rudolph’s nose steers Santa.
1. It All Starts With the Perfect Tree
Choosing the perfect tree requires a little forethought. Unless you plan on chopping one down from your backyard (which is excellent if you can do it!), you have to make some decisions.
First of all, think about the logistics.
Where do you plan on putting the tree when you get it? Is that spot near a plug if you want lights as part of your decoration?
Once you’ve settled on a location, it’s time for the great family debate:
Do you want an artificial tree or a real one?
People who are on Team Real Tree swear it’s an essential part of the holiday experience. The smell of pine or balsam in the air, the fluffy branches to hold decorations, the needles covering the floor …
On second thought, maybe a fake tree would be better if you’re the one doing the cleaning.
Still, there are pros and cons to both, and you can’t start your search for the perfect tree until you know what type to look for!
One final consideration before you head out the door (or online):
How tall is the ceiling where your tree is going?
Subtract about half a foot to a foot from there. That’s the maximum height you can get if you plan on putting a tree-topper up.
2. Next, Choose a Theme
Your perfect tree is sitting ready, waiting for you to cover it in beautiful ornaments. Now, you have the fun part!
What theme do you want to use to adorn the lovely branches?
In a lot of families, you accumulate decorations over time with family heirlooms. That, in itself, is a theme, but it’s not for everyone.
To make a stylish tree beyond the hodgepodge of traditional decorations, check out one of these trendy themes:
- A country Christmas with the natural, rustic touches
- Pick a color, any color, and use only that shade on the tree (for extra pizzazz, find an artificial tree that matches)
- Go with whites and silvers for a wintry look
- Modern neon colors brighten every tree
- Choose a forest look by piling on greens in multiple hues
Pick your theme, and then start shopping for the right ornaments to fill it. How many bulbs you need depends on the size of your tree and how much coverage you want.
3. Add the Lights and Sparkly Touches
It’s time to put the pre-ornament frills on! This might be your strands of lights, rows of garland, or popcorn strings. Or maybe all of the above!
First, fluff the branches before you add any decor — whether the tree is real or artificial.
Pro-tip: If you chose a real tree, let it settle for at least 24 hours before you try to decorate it, or nothing will look the same tomorrow!
When the tree is as fluffy and full as you want it, grab your lights. Up until recently, you had one option: multi-colored, solid lights. Now, the stress comes from deciding whether you want white or multi-colored, solid or twinkling, running or musical. (It’s a fun problem to have!)
Add the garland and rope strands if you want, then connect your star or other tree-topper to the very top.
Finish the look off by stringing some tinsel for added sparkle.
4. Choose Bulbs and Baubles That Match
When you bought your ornaments, you picked your theme and decided how much coverage you want with decorations. The general rule of thumb is to use about 80 ornaments per 7.5-foot tree, but you can use more or less to your taste.
Cluster your ornaments in groups of three, making sure they are all different sizes.
Start at the top and zig-zag the clusters down the tree. Place the smaller ornaments toward the weaker branches at the end and the larger ones in the middle.
Keep any fragile bulbs near the top of the tree. Finish the look off with your favorite, special decorations in “pride of place.”
5. Finish Off the Look With a Tree Skirt
No, you don’t have to have a tree skirt. But you should.
The tree skirt serves a few logical purposes. It covers the tree stand, catches pine needles from live trees, and protects your floor from sap or spillage.
As far as style goes, it also adds the finishing touch to the Christmas tree look. When you take pictures of the presents under the tree or your loved ones, the floor looks bare without a skirt.
In short, the tree skirt completes the look of all your hard work. It connects the ornaments and lights to the rest of your room’s holiday decor.
Find a skirt that matches the theme of your tree or one that blends with the other decorations. Now you have an Insta-ready tree for perfect photos and a relaxing festive atmosphere.
There is no wrong way to style your tree. But if you want an impressive backdrop in the main holiday scene, follow these tips.
You’ll turn your bare tree into a Christmas fashion statement!