Monday, November 16, 2009

Why Doesn‘t My Tree Look Like Yours? Christmas Tree Decorating 101

     I haven't started on my Christmas decorating this year. I did have pictures of a past tree that I thought I would use for this post. One of my good friends was a florist until she died a few years ago. I would often help her on major floral holidays and for about a month at Christmas. The first things I learned were how to make a bow and how to decorate a tree. I thought I'd share some of the tricks that make those department store trees look so pretty.


     Before I start this I want to say that when my kids were little we had one tree, complete with pre-school made ornaments, reindeer out of clothespins, and all the "baby's first" and so on. When they got older, we had 2 trees; one for the family and one for me to play with. Eventually, we had four trees. One on an outdoor balcony, two for me to play with and a tree for the kid's special ornaments. We are back to one tree because my kids are have flown the nest and we no longer have Christmas at home. We also no longer live in the big historic home that had room for all of those trees. If they were going to be here, there would be a kid tree too. 

     First, get the necessary equipment ready. For me, that means dinner is in the crock-pot, the wine is poured and Christmas music is on the stereo. I have lots of Christmas music, but Luthor remains a favorite.




     One of the most important things you can do to make your tree look great is to not skimp on the lights. I put about 800 lights on this tree, it really could have used another 200 or so. The reason the department store trees look so pretty, is that the lights all point out. The way to achieve this is to take the branch of the tree, and twist it around each light. It holds the lights in place, and make them point out. You also should take a few of the lights towards the inside of the tree. Nothing is prettier than having the glow behind the ornaments. When you get to the larger, bottom branches-work the lights up and down the branch. Wrapping the branch around the bulbs to point them outward and hold them in place. This technique only works with an artificial tree, but even with a real tree if you add tons of lights and take the time to point the bulbs outward, it will look better.







    
     Decide on a color/theme. This particular year, my tree was going to be red and bright green. Put all of one color on before putting on the next color. That way you get the ornaments spaced evenly on the tree.



    
     Next use something as a filler. This tree had ice crystals on branches, and sparkly green/gold fern like branches. Both of these things were long garlands that I cut into pieces. I have used baby's breath, red berries and various dried flowers in the past.




     When it comes to the tree topper, think outside of the box. I love to use sticks and glittered leaves, twigs from the yard, dried flowers...whatever you find that ties in with the theme of the tree. Group them all together and wrap tightly with wire. Attach a bow to the front and put on top of the tree. The next secret is to put more bows all around the top of the tree to complete the look so that the tree looks nice from all sides. Add a tree skirt to match and you are done. Get creative with the skirt. I have used a tablecloth or  fabric off the $1 table-just bunch it around the bottom of the tree.



     It is nice to carry the theme around the rest of the room. We don't have a fireplace in this house, so I used to decorate the television cabinet. We no longer have the television cabinet, but there are other areas to decorate. A little greenery, some lights and a few glittery ornaments can tie it all in together. Throw a few ornaments in a clear glass bowl, put a little greenery around some existing candlesticks, cut a few twigs off a tree and tie them with cinnamon sticks and a bow for a bathroom counter. There are treasures all over the house if you just look for them.







     There are those here who will have decorations far more impressive than these. My point was to offer a few tips to those who are still taking 200 lights and wrapping them quickly around the tree. Hopefully, you found some little bit of information that you can use. I have my color/theme picked out for this year. Hopefully, I can find the few things I need to complete the look I want. I'll post my tree when it is done (after Thanksgiving).

39 comments:

Maya said...

Thanks for the tips! I want my smallish tree to look gorgeous!! Imagine, I grew up with real Christmas trees that had lots of candles on them. And with my first tree here in the U.S. (14 years ago), I carried on that tradition..., but then got used to the ease and comfort of a (reusable) artificial tree with plug in lights..., and I wouldn't want to go back.

Life Laugh Latte said...

I used to really control the tree decorating, but now my daughter helps me with the lights and all 3 kids do the ornaments. We are in that stage...you know. It does make me intensely happy to see how proud they are of it when they are done. Happier than if my tree was perfect. We always cut ours down...but this year I was thinking we'd cut down one for in the house (our home is smallish), and then buy a cheap one to put outside on the lawn. I've always wanted to do this. Not sure if hubs will agree to chop up two trees at the end of the season:) Love your tips. Holly:)

Yvonne @ StoneGable said...

Sue, what a great post! I love all of your tips. Do you think we could have possibly been seperated at birth, and could you be my twin? Your life and the history of all your trees sound like I could be posting your blog. This is the first Christmas we will not have a tree in the familyroom. I do 3 other trees though. I love, love, love the tree topper idea, and the bows at the top of the tree. I'm going to do that. YOu have become such a wonderful friend and blogging buddy. I am always so excited to hear from you and come to visit to see what you are up to. You are a great inspiration to me! Well done, I can't wait to see that beautiful tree.
hugs,
Yvonne

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

Maya-I've always thought a real tree with candles would be beautiful...but would probably burn the house down! I worry when I light any candles that I will forget them.

Holly-Been there, done that. Tree decorating is one of those bittersweet things. I miss having the little hands helping...and yet, I'm sort of glad not to have all the ornaments only on the bottom half of the tree:)

Yvonne-we do seem to like the same things, don't we? I'm curious to see my tree this year too. I'm using a new color combination...not sure how it will turn out.

the southern hostess said...

Looks gorgeous! Great blog!

Sue said...

Looking forward to seeing you tree when you post the picture!

Kathleen said...

Very pretty! DH is the light King. When he plugs it in the electric co pops champagne!
I still do too many trees..every year I say no more..just one..and then I do them!
Crazy!

koralee said...

Oooooh..thank you so much for the tips... I am going to use them! I do like lots of lights on my tree. This tree is lovely!

Julie said...

Hi Sue, what a great post! Thanks for all of your tips... I am sure I will be able to use them... Love your tree...
xoxo
Julie

Natasha said...

Wow Sue, your decorations look amazing. I am going to need to get some more lights for next year because I am indeed one of those lazy light people who just twirls them round and round. I guess I just never knew how to do it properly-THANK YOU for the tips!
Best wishes, Natasha.
PS your Christmas blog design is spectacular!

Barbara said...

Sue, gorgeous tree topper, I can't wait to see the rest of the tree. I am happy you won one of my giveaways.

Barbara

Patty Benedict said...

Sue....Wonderful tree!

we are also empty nesters! I decorate on Thanksgiving watching the parades on TV. We always have a real tree with bubble lights and larger christmas lights.
I bought a 4'prelite fake PINK tree last year just for me to have fun with...I LOVE funky colored trees!
PLEASE post photos of your tree!
Bugs & Hisses
patty

Blondie's Journal said...

Sue~~~

Your ideas are wonderful!! I think I have a whole new way of looking at decorating my tree, albeit the lights. DH can barely stand to put on the strands we already have!! But I love the idea of the floral picks and bows. And wrapping the lights around the branch. (Or is it the other way around?)

My problem has always been tying bows. There has to be a trick that eludes me! Any advice on that?

Thanks so much for a great tutorial. You have a lovely blog. Enjoy the rest of your week, Sue!

xoxo
Jane

carissajaded said...

You have some great ideas! I haven't really ever decorated for Christmas since I've been out on own, except for a few trees that sat in my college apartment until they fell apart, but yours looks wonderful! I'm going to try my hand at being crafty this year!

Libbie said...

Wow! That topper is amazing!!! Would love to just sit there & stare for awhile!

BrightenedBoy said...

Lovely decorations. The tradition in our family in recent years has been to put the tree up the day after Thanksgiving.

dee dee said...

Sue,
Thanks for such wondeful tips, wow... to think I need more lights! I can't wait to see the finished project- stunning!
Dee Dee

Tammy@InStitches said...

Thanks for the tips, I can't wait to see your tree all decorated. I've always just had one tree with everything on it !

Chrissy said...

Great tips...our kids (18 and 20) still decorate the tree(not a pretty site)but tradition is everything here at Christmas!! Thanks for the really nice note you left me,means alot!

nannykim/spindlecottage said...

this was very helpful. Also I used to do what you did--a tree for all of the old ornaments and kids ornaments and a tree to play with. We would have one fake tree and one real. Lately we have been doing just one tree (and I play).

nannykim/spindlecottage said...

Oh, and I haven't heard of that singer....Now I may have heard him sing and just not known it. I will see if they have a listening thing on him on Amazon. (did you say you were hobbling around on a comment?? are you sick?

nannykim/spindlecottage said...

wow! you better take it extra careful the next few days especially!! HEY, I think YOU need a mom!!! Ha!!

Maria said...

Sue, I just love your Christmas-time background and frosty castle blog photo! GORGEOUS!

I love the bow on top of the tree! I have always wanted to try this, but have always had an angel there.
Do you have any ideas for angels?
... the bow is awesome!
Merry, Merry ~~~ Maria

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

Maria-For some reason I've never had an angel or a star on the top of my trees, even though I love both. I always go sort of wild. I think it would be pretty to put the angel on the tree and still use the bows below her to surround the top of the tree. If you used a sparkly white or silver ribbon, it would almost make a cloud for her to sit on. I just always try to make the view of the side (or back if it shows) of the tree look ok too.

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

Thanks everyone for all the great comments. I really appreciate each of you for taking the time to visit me.

Sue

JUST ME said...

My man does not like Christmas. Or any holiday. But I am determined to get a giant Christmas tree into his house. If I have to drag it in there myself at midnight...I will.

Maria said...

Hi Sue! Oh that is an AWESOME idea!
I'll try to do that and take pics ... then you can see how it comes out! *I hope I can be a good "bow-maker" for my angel cloud :D

FrugalMom said...

I know I said this before, but you are really an awesome decorator. I tried the tip with the lights last year, and it definitely works.

Now, I am curious...how many boxes of Christmas decorations do you have? My two boxes are overflowing, and I only have one color scheme.

FrugalMom said...

BTW I love your new page, and the photo is magnificent.

Yvonne @ StoneGable said...

Sue, I am going to copy the top of your tree! It is just what I was looking for. The top of my tree is usually wanting just a bit.

I hope you are okay! Is it your back? I have lower back problems so I can relate to the heating pad thing! Get better, I'll be praying for you.

I wish I had a HG closer to me. The one I frequent is about an hour away, and the other is about an hour and a half. But I love their prices so much that it is worth it. Right now I am on a break from work, ( I work part time) so it is easier to get a day to go. But the beginning of the new year means back to work for me, so trips will be harder!

I just love visiting your blog- you have so many creative ideas and wonderful stories.

Get better, friend!
Yvonne

Andrea at Opulent Cottage said...

Love that topper! I must confess, I put about 1500 lights on our 8 foot norfolk pine every year. We blow alot of fuses! We'll have to trade more Christmas tips, I bet we could get in alot of trouble together!!! Can't wait to see the whole tree.
Happy Stringing,
Andrea

ChaiLatte said...

What a great post, Sue. I have to confess that I love step #1, Luther & a glass of wine!! That's all I need- then I can curl up on the couch and watch my hubby put the lights on our tree! Just kidding, sort of. ; )

g said...

Great decorating tips. You'd love shopping for ornaments here in downtown LA in the wholesale district, there's so many places to get decor for great prices. If you came here shopping with me, you might boost my Christmas spirit!

Kim said...

Your tree last year looked beautiful and I appreciate all the tips. I'm like you about perfecting the lights before starting but you did inspiring me to maybe add more. Have you tried the new led lights and do you know if you can combine led with the old kind? (String-to-string)

Love the castle.

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

Kim-I haven't tried the LED lights. I just use the regular white lights. I don't have the answer to your question.

adrioro said...

thanks for this wonderful post. I have never done a tree myself! long story! hehehe the last time I help in decorating a tree I was 10, and this year I will be having a tree, I am so exited! I got the tree at walmart, the pre-lit 6'-5" I been looking at all kinds of tutorials and got a bunch of ideas, I have not though of the mesh, But I love the idea. I will try it out.

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