Think for a moment about your picturesque holiday display scene. What’s included? You’re probably envisioning snow falling, twinkly Christmas lights, a Christmas wreath, and of course, presents—but what’s at the center of it all? No holiday scene is complete without a fully decorated Christmas tree.

Whether you’re using an artificial or real tree, figuring out how to properly decorate a Christmas tree is an art. Here at Christmas Designers, we’re passionate about helping you bring in the season with a spectacular holiday display—no matter the size. We specialize in commercial-grade Christmas lights for homes and professional displays.

In this blog, we take a look at how to decorate a Christmas tree properly. While no two Christmas trees should be the same, we hope this guide provides you with some ideas for making your Christmas tree even brighter and merrier this holiday season.

christmas tree decorating

CHRISTMAS TREE PREPARATION 

Before decorating your Christmas tree, the preparation needed will heavily depend on whether you have a real or artificial tree. One of the benefits of artificial trees is that they have relatively little prep work—just set up and go. However, a real tree requires a bit more consideration and planning to ensure it stays healthy for days, or even weeks, to come. 

With a real tree, make sure your cut along the trunk is fresh before setting it up in your house. Why is this? Once a tree is cut, the bottom end effectively closes off and can no longer absorb water. If your cut is fresh (within a matter of hours) before placing your Christmas tree in a stand with water, the tree will continue absorbing water and stay fresh and green. 

It’s also beneficial to provide your tree with an extra boost of water the night before your trimming celebration. Following a fresh cut, many people soak the tree in a bucket of water overnight so that it absorbs as much water as possible. This extra boost ensures that your Christmas tree lasts even longer—which is especially helpful for those of us who begin setting up for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. 

CHOOSING THE RIGHT LIGHTS

The right Christmas tree lights make all the difference when decorating your tree. In recent years, LED Christmas lights have seen a surge in popularity as the technology improves, and more people become aware of these lights’ benefits. 

Compared to traditional, incandescent bulbs, LED Christmas lights are more durable, longer-lasting, and far more energy-efficient. In fact, according to the US Department of Energy, LED lights to last up to 25 times longer than incandescent lights and use up to 80 percent less energy. Made of plastic instead of glass, LED lights are also safer because they don’t break as easily and they don’t get as hot.  

PLANNING YOUR CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS

Before you start hanging the lights or ornaments on your tree, it’s smart to have a specific plan in mind. It’s helpful to lay out all your Christmas tree decorations to get an idea of what you have to work with. Also, be sure to measure the width of your tree and the length of your Christmas lights. One of the most common issues people have when trimming their tree is not having enough lights. Save yourself a last-minute trip to the store by measuring out all your holiday decorations before the trimming begins. 

SPREAD OUT AND SHAPE THE BRANCHES

Before putting any lights or ornaments on the tree, you’ll want to ensure all your branches are in order. Artificial trees’ branches are uniform; however, real trees’ branches require a little touch-up work. It’s not uncommon to trim a few branches after you’ve purchased and situated your tree. 

When Christmas tree shopping, keep an eye out for trees with large gaps in the branches. These gaps can be a pain to cover up—no matter how big your ornaments or lights are. Also, keep in mind the type of Christmas tree you purchase. Noble and Fraser firs are renowned for their strong branches and durability. If you’re stringing a lot of lights and heavy ornaments, you’ll need strong branches. 

START WITH CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

Once your tree is ready to go, most people begin by stringing up their Christmas lights. It’s useful to begin with the lights because, once the ornaments, garland, and other decorations are on the tree, it can be challenging to find free branches to wrap the lights around. 

First, what type of Christmas lights are you using? Whether you’re using LED Christmas lights, mini string lights, large bulb lights, or even icicle lights, be aware that some lights are more luminous than others. Compared to the smaller string lights, large bulbs create a warmer, softer glow. 

When hanging your lights, start at the top and work your way down, weaving the lights between the strongest branches as you go. With artificial trees, you can even keep the lights on when the holidays are over—just make sure the lights are secure to the tree before packing it storage. 

TREE PICKS

Once your Christmas tree decorations are nearly complete, tree picks are the perfect finishing touch. Christmas tree picks come in a variety of types, such as branches, sprigs of holly, pinecones, or clusters of berries or fruit. Tree picks can be inserted anywhere on a tree, and when used sparingly, are the perfect accent to your lights and ornaments. 

BALANCE YOUR CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS

If you have small children, you’ve most likely seen the results of a Christmas tree with unbalanced decorations. Small children can only reach so high, and thus, the bottom half of the tree will be clustered with ornaments while the top is relatively untouched, leaving the parents to make adjustments later in the night.

Of course, family fun is part of the fun of decorating a tree; however, there’s just something so aesthetically pleasing about a well-balanced tree. When arranging (or rearranging) your lights and ornaments, think about balance from top to bottom and around the entire circumference of the tree. This is especially important if your Christmas tree is positioned near a window so that the whole neighborhood can see your festive work on display. 

CHRISTMAS TREE TOPPER

In addition to trimming your tree with all the Christmas lights, ornaments, ribbons, and garland, no tree is complete without a Christmas tree topper. Whether choosing a Christmas star, angel, or ribbons, it’s always a special moment when you place the final decoration on your tree. After this final touch, stand back and take it all in. 

Stars and angels are certainly the most traditional Christmas tree toppers. However, if you’re going for a creative twist with your holiday display this year, there are endless unique ideas to incorporate. Some people go for a twist on the classics by using a wooden or straw star. Some go further by topping their trees with other holiday items, such as gingerbread houses, tinsel, cookie cutters, or an oversized snowflake. The choice is yours. 

TREE SKIRT

Last but not least, you’ll want to select the right tree skirt for your Christmas tree. While the skirt may seem unnecessary, it serves a few important purposes. The tree skirt can cover a good portion of the trunk, and depending on the color and style you select, it will fit perfectly with your lights and ornaments. On the more practical side, a tree skirt also protects your floor from loose needles (if you have a real tree, of course) or fallen ornaments. 

CONCLUSION – HOW TO PROPERLY DECORATE A CHRISTMAS TREE

We hope this brief guide to properly decorate a Christmas tree gave you some ideas and pointers for getting started on your holiday display this year. Of course, there is no one “proper” way to decorate your Christmas tree. It’s all about determining what type of Christmas tree decorator you are. What matters most is that decorating your tree serves as an opportunity to spend time with friends, family, and loved ones and gives you a chance to show off your Christmas lights and holiday ornaments. 

At Christmas Designers, we’re always here to help with your holiday displays by providing Christmas trees, LED Christmas lights, fiberglass displays, and even laser lights. Feel free to reach out to us via our Contact page with any questions, and be sure to check out our YouTube channel for more pro decorating tips. Enjoy the holiday season in your unique way this year, and make that Christmas tree shine.