When Matt and I celebrated our first Christmas together, Christmas tree decorating tips would have been much appreciated. We grew up learning different ways of doing things, and hanging lights was just one part of the process we didn’t agree on. Ah, newlyweds!
Once we got the whole ordeal figured out, it has essentially remained the same since that first year. Putting together DIY projects like my Easy Holiday Door Decor is fun for most people with a creative spirit. But, are hanging lights and decorating your tree every year a task you find cumbersome? I’m happy to share a few things we’ve learned that will hopefully make your task a little merrier.
Before you pick your tree height, pick your tree type
One time, we bought a white pine. It was so beautiful and it smelled wonderful. You really can’t beat the true scent of fresh pine! But once we got it set up in our home, we noticed ornaments just slid right off. Even when we hung them deep on the branches. That was the year we would occasionally hear the little ping of ornaments hitting the floor. Thankfully, we had carpet at the time so there weren’t many ornament casualties. Oh, and that tree shed like no one’s business. We were vacuuming up hidden needles for weeks! Fraser Firs have been the way to go for us since. They look great, smell great, and we haven’t heard a ping since we made the switch.
Know Your Tree Height and Width Maximums
We had super tall ceilings in our last home. We loved getting big trees because our girls just thought they were magical. They could run to the top of the stairs and be at eye height with the very top of the tree. But one year, we cut off that compression netting they put on trees, and I panicked. The tree got wider and wider with each cut. Once freed from its confines, it became the tree that ate our great room. Every single friend who visited us that year said, “Wow, now that’s a tree!” And it was. We loved it all season long until the moment we had to figure out how to get it out of the house in January. Our front door was like a birth canal for that poor tree! Knowing your tree height and width maximum for the lighting portion of tree decorating. We’ll get to that here shortly.
Know Where You’re Putting Your Tree in Your Home
As far as Christmas tree decorating tips go, this one sounds like such an obvious thing. But figure out where you’re going to put your tree first before you buy it. Take some measurements of the space so you know what you have to work with. Don’t forget to take into account where electric outlets are located. And give yourself access room to water it if it’s a real one. If you bought a real tree, place an open tree bag under the base of your tree stand. At the end of the season, you’ll be able to remove your tree from the stand, have the bag right under it, and be able to fill your bag with the tree from the bottom up. It makes for a much easier cleanup!
Keep Your Tree Choice Consistent
Jot your tree height and width down if you buy a new one every year. Choosing a consistent tree height and width every year will save you lots of lighting headaches. When we chose tall trees, we would often have to run out to buy more lights. We could never seem to find any that matched the brand and style of what we already had. On top of that, it was hard to find the warm white lights we like instead of LED. You would think all lights would be the same, but brightness also varies by brand and type. In my opinion, trees can be decked in all kinds of ornaments and still look put together when the lights all match. If you’re trying to figure out how many lights you need for your tree, you can find a good resource here.
Plug In Those Lights!
Of all my Christmas tree decorating tips, this one is number one. I’ll never forget the year we strung our entire tree with lights and then plugged them in. Just like Clark Griswold, our smiles turned upside down fast when we realized our newly purchased light set had a dud strand right in the middle of our tree. Not fun, friends. Not fun. Even brand new lights can be defective, so plug them in first, before you start stringing!
Our Tried and True Way to String Lights
You can find all kinds of ways to hang lights online, but for us, starting at the top and working our way down in circles works best. We start by plugging in the light strands. Then we take the female end of a strand and wind it around the very top of the tree to hide it. Matt’s height comes in handy for this chore! We loosely wrap the tree with all of the lights and then take a step back and squint. We adjust the strands again to make sure we don’t have any gaping holes. Finally, we tuck various parts of each strand so they aren’t hanging on the end of the branches. Here’s a pic of what the first part of the process looks like.
Don’t Forget the Tree Skirt
In my opinion, tree skirts work best for small, artificial trees. We still use tree skirts around our real trees. However, to make them work for us, we take an old white fitted bedsheet and wrap it around the base first. Because it’s fitted, it naturally curls under and lays nicely. Then our tree regular tree skirt is layered on top of it. Presents cover it up anyway so nobody really sees it. After Christmas, we can shake any tree needles onto the old fitted bedsheet and then carry it outside to shake it out.
Finally, the Decorations
We buy an ornament once a year while we’re on vacation as a token remembrance. And we buy one each year for each of our daughters. Once our girls officially move out and are on their own, they’ll have some special ornaments to hang on their own tree. If you have a lot of ornaments, start by hanging your favorites first.
I used to admire those perfect Pinterest-y trees where everything matched. However, I realized my tree, decorated with ornaments gathered over the years we’ve had together, is far more beautiful in my eyes. Our most precious ornaments aren’t expensive and breakable, but those with personality and charm. They’re the ornaments that were made when the girls were babies and toddlers. Covered in glitter and tied with simple yarn, they’re the best reminder that stuff and gifts don’t buy you happiness at Christmas. The memories and the people we spend the holidays with are what brings us true joy.
Watch the Video!
I hope you find peace, joy, and blessings this holiday season, this year more than ever!