How to decorate your Christmas tree like a pro
Choose the right Christmas tree
Are you going for the real deal or getting a high-quality faux fir you can use year after year? Either way, choosing the right one is pretty important. Some types of tree you can find in-stores and online are:
- Pre lit trees: These trees have the lights built in to the branches, so you can simply put it up, plug it in and get to decorating.
- Snowy and frosted trees: These trees have a light dusting of faux-snow all over their branches, giving a lovely wintery feel.
- Twig trees: These minimalistic trees are available pre lit and ready for you to add your own lights to, and in multiple sizes – from table-top to make-a-statement.
- Tabletop trees: These trees may be tiny, but the festive feeling they can bring a room is huge. They’re ideal for lots of situations: whether you’re tight on space so sticking with a small tree for now, looking to put a little tree in every room or even using it as a centrepiece on the Christmas table.
- Trees for small spaces: Slimline trees and shorter trees mean that even if you’re celebrating in a smaller space you can still enjoy decorating your very own tree.
- Extra-large trees: Ready to go big? Our faux trees are available all the way up to 12ft, perfect for entrance halls and bigger rooms
I want the real deal
Then the key is to get up close and personal. Try pinching the branches between your finger and thumb and pulling them towards you. If a load of needles come off? Yep, it’s already past its best. (And remember to measure your stand before you cart your chosen tree all the way home.)
Reusable for me
It’s a good idea to opt for something traditional rather than trend-led (so you won’t want to replace it in a few years’ time), and make sure your chosen tree is made from high-quality materials that can handle heavy baubles. Droopy branches? Not a good look.
Let’s start with Christmas tree skirts
Christmas tree skirts are a simple way to hide the base of your Christmas tree out of sight – they're sometimes also called tree baskets, blankets, rings or collars. They come in various sizes, and you can choose from neutral skirts which blend in, to beautiful pieces that stand out.
What is a Christmas tree skirt?
Very simply, a Christmas tree skirt hides the base of your tree. Commonly, they are made from fabric and drape around the base or are a woven wicker basket-style hoop. This year, we’ve also got structured tree skirts in metallic and velvet finishes and even origami-style folded paper.
How do I choose a Christmas tree skirt?
It’s easy! Pick the one you love the most. Just make sure it’s going to fit around the base of your tree. First, measure the diameter of the bottom branches of the tree. Then, you can choose a skirt based on the look you’re going for: if you want the tree skirt to make a statement, then choose an Xmas tree skirt that’s 10-15cm bigger than the diameter of your tree’s bottom branches. If you would prefer the tree skirt to simply cover up the tree base, then choose one 2.5-5cm smaller than the width of the bottom branches. You can choose something neutral that blends in or go for bold and pick a tree skirt that matches the style of your decorations.
How to light your Christmas tree
Decorations-wise, you’ll definitely want to start with the lights. Whether you’re opting for multi-coloured or plain, make sure they complement the theme of your baubles (and if they’ve been packed away since last year, we’d recommend getting them out of the box and untangled well before tackling the tree to save any festive feuds).
Rather than working down from the top, experts say it’s best to use the plug as your starting point; that eliminates the problem of accidentally leaving yourself either too much cable, or not enough to reach the socket. Start from the trunk and work your way around the tree right up to the top - and turn the lights on as you go to make sure the bulbs are evenly spaced to avoid bald patches.
Next, time for the tinsel
These glittering garlands have been a Christmas tree staple since the mid-1800s - but even before then, people would hang bits of metal from their firs to reflect the light. As a general rule, you’ll need around 10 feet of tinsel for every foot of tree e.g. if you’ve got a five-foot tree, you’ll need around 50 feet of tinsel. Unlike the lights, you’ll want to do a top-to-bottom approach here.
Fancy getting creative with the kids? (Or with a glass of wine.) Make your own garlands by stringing popcorn onto colourful string, or by linking loops of paper together to make arty, retro decorations.
What can I use instead of tinsel?
How about ribbon? Ribbon has become a popular substitute for tinsel in recent years as people look for plastic-free additions to their tree. From ultra-traditional tartan to modern jute, there are hundreds of variations to choose from (and you can use any leftovers to add a little festive flair to wrapped presents, too).
Either wrap it around your tree in exactly the same way you would with tinsel, or tie bows around individual branches. And if you want the look of cascading ribbon without the faff, there’s an easy trick to faking it; take shorter strands of ribbon (around three feet long) and simply poke either end vertically into spaces between the branches, softly denting the middle so it looks as though its cascading downwards. Easy.
The best bit? Baubles
Easily everyone’s favourite part of decorating the tree: baubles. The pros recommend starting off by putting the heaviest baubles on the inside of the tree (so they don’t weigh down the ends of the branches), with anything glittery kept around the centre to reflect the light.
Remember to keep things roughly symmetrical so your tree looks well-balanced rather than claustrophobic. Experts suggest keeping bigger baubles at the base and smaller ones up top, with any matching ornaments hung in Z-shaped clusters of three, six or twelve. Got something extra special to show off? Save your favourite decorations til last to give them pride of place.
Top of the tree
So, now it’s decorated, what are you going to put on top of your Christmas tree? The tree topper is your final decorating flourish, so you’ll want to get it right – plus it can be a very special moment. Some families choose to let the youngest member of the family top the tree, lifting them up so they can reach. Others use the same tree topper for decades so seeing the final decoration in place is the moment they truly know it’s Christmas. To help you choose how to complete your tree, here are some commonly-used tree toppers:
- Stars: Inspired by the Star of Bethlehem from the nativity story, a star on top of the tree is a traditional choice. Choose from beaded stars, woven stars and even pre-lit stars with twinkling fairy lights built in.
- Angels and fairies: With a tulle skirt covering the very top branch of your tree, an angel or a fairy is a classic Christmas-tree-topping favourite.
- Gnome: Give your Christmas tree a playful topper in the form of a cute, cuddly-looking gnome – or pick another Christmas character who will make you smile. And don’t forget – whatever you select for the prime position, make sure there’s space! A good rule is to aim for 15cm between the very top of your tree topper and the ceiling.
Now you’re a pro
From light-stringing hacks to how to hang your baubles, these are the top tips from the experts for decorating your tree like a pro. Now, go and enjoy that festive feeling...