Christmas Tree Decorating

Decorating a Christmas Tree

It does not seem to matter how many vignettes or displays I create, my families favorite Christmas decor is always the Christmas Tree, I bet your family is the same.  Whether its trendy or traditional all families love to gather around the tree.  Christmas tree decorating is easy and the variety endless but there are a few basic steps to a well decorated Christmas tree.  Regardless of your theme, or colour scheme choices there are some general hints, tricks and guidelines for decorating your tree.
aHow to Decorate a Christmas Tree a full length decorated tree.

 Get the Best Quality Tree  You Can

For me,  a quality tree means a real tree if you have access to wilderness go on a tree hunt and gather a tree.  Or go to a tree farm and purchase one still in the ground.    Did you ever know someone who fixed a real Christmas tree? Grampa Dan would come and set up the real trees for us.  He would cut all the lower limbs off to make room for the tree stand.  If there was an empty space in the natural tree he would trim up one of those the extra limbs, then drill a hole and glue the branch in the open spots.  The fixed Christmas tree kept well, the branches stayed in and no one could tell.

If you’re like us and have an artificial tree, make sure to get one with plastic tip ends.  The most expensive artificial trees are all plastic tips, the cheaper variety like ours just have plastic tips on the ends of the limbs. After you assemble your tree fluff out each branch to look as natural as possible.  The trick is to fluff out each and every branch from the trunk towards the front of the tree.  Then on to the next branch.  Fluffing an artificial tree makes a huge difference.


There is nothing worse than decorating the tree and then having to move it to make it accessible.   We learned this lesson having to carefully adjust and move a fully decorated tree so we could unplug the lights.  So much easier to do it at the beginning.

Add Lots of Lights to your Christmas Tree

The general rule is 100 lights per vertical foot of your tree.  Our Christmas trees are prelit but don’t come with nearly enough lights,  we add an additional 100 per vertical foot.

Check for burnt out lights on the light strings.  Replace the bulbs or add more light strings if necessary.

Begin at the top back of the tree.  Start at the trunk, weave your lights in and out through each branch.  Move on to the next limb and repeat. It’s surprising how many lights this uses and how long this step takes.    If you have woven them in and out of every branch they should be fine as is, but step back and double check.  Make sure the lighting is even and adjust the light placement if needed.


How to Decorate a Christmas Tree, Weaving lights through the branches

Typically I complete the first two steps one day as this part can feel like a chore.  You can do it all at once, but I believe you will enjoy decorating your tree more, if you fluff, and set up and lights one day,  and leave the actual decorating to the next day.

Add Garland, or Ribbon on the Christmas Tree

Garland can be draped along the outer edges of the limbs, whereas ribbon cannot.   The ribbon must be started from inside the tree near the trunk and worked outwards, it looks funny hung on the outside of the tree.   Keep an eye out when you see professionally decorated beautiful trees, you will notice the ribbon isn’t on the outside.

The amount of ribbon you need depends on the size of your tree, how many other ornaments you have etc.  As a general idea for a six-foot tree you need at least 75 feet of ribbon and for a 9-foot tree 150 feet.  This is a general guideline depending on how you apply ribbon.   If you put your ribbon on in clusters like I did this year, you don’t need as much ribbon.  I used 120 feet for our 9-foot tree.

Wired ribbon is much easier, I never use anything else and I don’t recommend decorating a tree with unwired ribbon.  If you have unwired ribbon you love, you can add wire by wrapping the ends of the ribbon over a florists wire and hot gluing it.

Whether you apply ribbon vertically, drape it around your tree or add it as clusters, remember to anchor your ribbon to the center of your tree first  Use the last branch closest to the trunk to attach the ribbon and then work your arrangement outwards. When you do it this way you won’t have to premeasure sections for poofing and your ribbon won’t ever look like its hovering on the outside about to come off.

 Adding Picks to the Christmas Tree

This is optional.  Picks can be very pricey, I got twenty of them at a half off sale.   Having just a few picks looks funny.  If you can’t get a bunch of them, don’t worry about it and just skip them.

If you do have picks spread them out throughout your tree.  Make sure they are not directly next to each other or directly above and below each other.  They are really handy to fill in some of your open spots.

Hang Ornaments on the Christmas Tree

Place your large ornaments and your very special ornaments first, then follow with the rest.  Remember to place ornaments inside the tree as well on the edges.  A new trend is nestling large ornaments in your tree.  I love that style,  this tree has two little signs nestled in the branches.

Nestling large ornament in the branches of a Christmas tree

Finally, finish off with your smaller ornaments.

I do a theme every year because it gives me a focus and I find it fun.  Remember this is your tree if you think purple eggplants look great go for it.  There is all kinds of inspiration on Pinterest of beautifully well done Christmas trees.

These are some special ornaments my children and my grandchildren gave me.  They go up every year regardless of my theme.  This year I saw the little signs to use as focal points, so Angels became my theme.  The little white deer and clear Santa Claus icicles stayed in storage, but not these ones with special memories attached.

Christmas, Tree, Decorations, Home Decor, Crafts

Tweak your Arrangement

Once you have the entire tree decorated step back and look at it, rearrange to make it just right.    This tree doesn’t receive presents so it has a fancy tree skirt instead.

Christmas, Decorating, Crafts, Home Decor,

Like the Idea?  Pin for Later


To Do List, Tutorial, Handout,

I will have pictures of the other two trees on my home tour.

Enjoy the twinkles and glitter.



  1. Thank you for sharing your beautiful tree with the Waste Not Wednesday Link Party. Merry Christmas!

  2. So many helpful tips Leanna!! I will be implementing a few for sure next year! Your decorations and tree is just stunning ! I love that you use to go and gather the tree with your Grandpa! I use to do the same!! Precious memories to have hey?!

  3. Great advice. Your tree is absolutely beautiful!Thank you for sharing at the Snickerdoodle Create~Bake~Make link party!

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Sharon: You learn a few things with experience. I think the best hint I shared was to do the tree and the lights one day and leave the final pretty decor for the second. It makes the second day seem like a festive party without any waiting to get the lights done already.

      Thank you for commenting. Leanna

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Alexis: Last year I had all white wintery animals as my theme. I kept a whit nativity as my mantel focal point but did the tree differently.

      This year the Jesus is the Reason sign spoke to me and I decided to do a traditional nativity theme for the living room. I am glad that I did.

      Thank you for the kind comment. Leanna

  4. Lots of great tips Leanna. I did not know what picks were till you mentioned them. See, I’m always learning something new from you. Your tree is beautiful and your ornaments from your kids and grandkids very special.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Mary: Thank you. I love everything just so, like different themes etc but Christmas is about tradition and memory and joy. I remember how proud my sons were giving me those ornaments. They made them from shoveling driveways and had purchased them at my favorite shop that could never afford to actually buy anything in.

      Thanks for commenting Leanna

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Marie: We have all trimmed dozens of trees I am sure, but I only had these streamed down method for a couple of years. It makes it easier for me. I figured new home makers who are independent like I was may like the tips.

      Thank you for commenting, Leanna

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Melissa. Edmonton has a greenhouse that converts to the largest Christmas store in Canada, its huge. They taught me about picks, they use them in all their trees.

      Thank you for commenting. Leanna

  5. This is great. I never realized you should attach ribbon to the center. I have already decorated the little tree in my bedroom which gets ribbon but I will make sure to do it right next year.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Debra: It uses a little more ribbon, but so worth it. Thank you for letting me know I had added something new worth reading about.

      I am getting excited, the house is pretty. On to baking soon.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Hi Pamela: It just works easier if you do them in some sort of order. Like most things its always easier to do it once without reworking. My youngest son actually taught me the lighting method. This year he is working in Toronto so I had to do the lights myself. Bah humbug lol Leanna

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.