Christmas Tree Hacks & Decorating Tips

These Christmas Tree Hacks & Decorating Tips will make your tree the best ever!

It will be time to get your Christmas decor out of storage before you know it, and I’ve filled this post with brilliant Christmas tree hacks that can help you trim the tree to perfection. If you’re like me, you love the effect of your decorations once they’re up, but the actual process of decorating isn’t always enjoyable. 

Lucky for us, I’ve collected a variety of simple tips and tricks for easy Christmas tree decorating. From lighting the tree to hanging the ornaments, these tips will save you time and effort so you can spend more time enjoying the fruits of your labor!

Whatever your personal Christmas decorating style is, these tips for decorating Christmas trees are sure to come in handy. So whether you’re decorating a live Christmas tree or an artificial one, these easy Christmas tree decorating ideas can help!

Make your tree look fuller and taller with these simple Christmas tree hacks.

Christmas Tree Basics & Setup

Fluff The Branches For A Fuller Look

When you set up an artificial tree, the branches are usually squished from being stuffed in a box, so take the time to spread each one out and make it as fluffy as possible before attaching the next branch. The key to turning a faux or artificial tree into the perfect Christmas tree is not skipping or rushing through this critical step!

If your tree has sections that are very sparse, you can fill in the gaps with sections of artificial pine garland. Once you get the tree lit and decorated, you won’t even be able to tell! You could also fill in sparse spots with sprigs of silk poinsettia flowers or other festive holiday sprigs for a pop of color.

Consider Your Tree Stand & Skirt

Depending on the volume of gifts you anticipate Santa will have in his bag when he visits your house this year, you may want to elevate your tree off the ground to allow more room for gifts under the tree. If you have small kids or mischievous pets at home, setting the entire tree on a low table can be an an easy way to prevent it from getting pulled or pushed over.

Another simple option is to set the base of the tree on large cans, such as unopened #10 food cans or gallon paint cans. You can also stack the tree on empty cans if that’s all you have on hand, but filling them with something heavy beforehand will make your setup sturdier and less precarious.

Once you’ve got your tree positioned where you want it and raised to your desired height, hide the base (and anything underneath it) with a nice tree skirt. You don’t even have to buy a traditional skirt — you could use a length of burlap, a linen tablecloth, a festive flannel sheet, or even a chunky knit blanket as a tree skirt to cover the base of your tree.

Care Guidelines For Live Trees

If you’ll be decorating a live tree or real tree this year, caring for it properly not only keep it looking great, but will help prevent it from becoming a fire hazard. Here are a few tree care guidelines to follow:

  • Put the base of the tree in water as soon as you bring it inside.
  • Position live trees away from vents, fireplaces, and other sources of heat.
  • To determine how much water your tree needs, measure the diameter of the base of the tree, then provide 1 quart of water per inch of its diameter.
  • Check the water level daily to make sure the base stays submerged.
We've got lots of Christmas tree hacks when it comes to lighting your tree.

Christmas Tree Hacks: Lighting Your Tree

After you’ve gotten your tree set up, you’re ready for my own least favorite part of the process: adding lights. Here are some tips that can help make it easier to light your tree:

1. Know How Many Lights You’ll Need

When it comes to Christmas tree lighting, the rule of thumb is to plan on using 100 lights per vertical foot of your tree. Using this rule to figure out how many strands of lights you’ll need ahead of time will save you from the maddening experience of running out of lights before the tree is fully lit.

2. Light One Section At A Time

If you have an artificial tree that is assembled in sections, it might be easier to light each section separately, then assemble the sections when you’re done. Decorating a tree is stressful enough with out having to bend and twist around those wide lower branches!

Another way to light your tree is to run your lights vertically, rather than spiraling them around the tree horizontally. People who prefer this approach say it helps prevent the lights from getting lost among the branches.

3. Use LED Lights

When shopping for Christmas tree lights, look for LED lights. They emit the same amount of light as traditional incandescent bulbs, yet last longer and are more energy-efficient and fire-resistant.

4. Don’t Mix Lights

When connecting multiple strands of lights on your tree, make sure the strands have the same wattage and bulb type. Connecting strands with different bulbs or wattages could cause a short or premature burnout.

5. Test Each Strand

Always test each strand of your lights before putting them on the tree to make sure it’s working, and be sure to replace any burnt out bulbs too. Spending a few seconds plugging in each strand before adding it to your tree could save you a lot of frustration in the long run. (Imagine knowing your tree is done and decorated, only to plug the lights in and see that a whole strand isn’t working!)

6. Use White Lights For An Inner Glow

Multi-colored lights can make your Christmas tree look fun and festive, but it’ll look even better if it also has a steady glow from within! Add a strand or two of warm, white lights around the tree trunk to give it a lovely glow behind those colorful lights.

Here's a hack for your Christmas tree topper -- bend the top of the tree over for a firmer base.

Christmas Tree Decorating Tips: Hanging Ornaments

1. Ditch Flimsy Hangers

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that life’s too short to struggle with flimsy ornament hangers that barely support the weight of ornaments made from anything other than very lightweight plastic. In fact, I’ve started using floral wire instead of those flimsy hooks — it’s much sturdier and blends right in with the tree branches.

2. Hang Larger Ornaments First

Distribute your biggest, heaviest Christmas tree ornaments around the tree first, then use smaller ornaments to cover the spaces in between. You’ll end up with a stunning Christmas tree that doesn’t look lopsided or top heavy.

3. Hang Valuable Ornaments Up High

Ornaments that are especially meaningful or valuable should be hung near the top of the tree where they’ll be safely out of reach of children or pets. Also, consider using a length of ribbon or wire to secure your special ornaments to their branches to prevent them from falling if the tree gets bumped or jostled.

Likewise, consider placing your least favorite ornaments near the bottom of your tree. They’ll give it a nice full look, while the ornaments you really want to see will be front and center.

4. Support Your Tree Topper 

Some tree toppers can be pretty heavy, and it’s important to give them a sturdy base to rest on. One easy way to do this is by folding over the top few inches of the tallest point of your tree — I do it every year, and it works like a charm!

5. Recruit Helpers

If you don’t love the process of decorating the tree, recruit a helper or two to lighten the load! Many people love decorating at Christmastime, and recruiting someone who has an eye for it (or at least has enthusiasm to spare!) can make the process easier and more enjoyable. You could also make a party out of decorating the tree by putting on Christmas music and eating Christmas cookies while you work!

6. Finish It Off With Fragrance

For those of us who prefer the convenience of an artificial tree, we don’t have to give up that nostalgic, fresh-cut tree scent entirely! Here are a few ways to add the scent of evergreens to your Christmas tree as a secret finishing touch:

  • Diffuse white fir or pine essential oil near the tree.
  • Sprinkle pine or fir essential oil onto a basket of decorative pine boughs or pine cones.
  • Use simmering potpourri to fill your whole house with a festive aroma.
  • Make gel air fresheners with your favorite seasonal scents and hide them among the branches.
When it's time to put your Christmas tree away, wrapping it and storing it already decorated is a great Christmas tree hack.

BONUS: 2 Ways To Save Time On Your Tree Next Christmas

1. Wrap Up The Whole Tree

If you have an artificial tree (and a decent amount of free storage space), you can save yourself some serious time and effort by wrapping up the whole thing before storing it away — lights, ornaments, and all! Use something light (like old bed sheets) to wrap the tree to avoid squishing the branches.

2. Snap A Photo

If you love the way your tree looks this year, take a few minutes to snap photos of it on your phone before taking it down. Next year, you’ll be able to recreate that look you loved by referencing those photos, and the process will go much faster with a visual guide to follow.

What other Christmas tree hacks would you add to this list?

Read This Next

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Bright Ideas

  • I am 4′ 9″. I have a hard time decorating my 7 ½ ft. tree. Even my step ladder wasn’t high enough. I have made myself a wire coat hanger ornament lifter. Open up the hanger and bend down a few inches of wire on one end of the hanger. Then bend a small upward hook on that first hook. You can now lift ornaments or lights higher than you can reach.

  • I love a really lit-up Christmas tree, but I don’t like it to look over-crowded. A few years ago I started putting a string(s) of lights on the inside that didn’t flash, and I put the flashing lights on the ends of the branches. I get compliments every year.

  • We used to travel out of state every year for Christmas to Grandma’s house. Bows would be knocked off, gift tags fall off… I numbered every gift as I wrapped it, wrote on a piece of paper the number & To/From. After kids in bed on Christmas Eve, we added bows & tags. it took a while, but was worth it because kids did not open any gifts until morning, and they then knew what was theirs.

    Also, a few times we secretly “mis-tagged” a gift. The person’s name on tag was told this was a secret & not really for them, so they knew not to get excited. That way when Grandma helped us wrap the new TV “for” a daughter, she was VERY surprised t o dis cover it was actually for HER!

  • One of the best tips I’ve come across is to make sure your ‘Santa’ gifts are lower value, and not too many. That way, if kids are comparing later, those from families that don’t have a lot to spend don’t end up wondering why Santa brought their friend lots of expensive stuff but not them. Save the big expensive stuff for gifts from family, so that disadvantaged kids don’t end up feeling like they were left out.
    Another lovely idea I came across recently was Reverse Advent Calendars – each day, put something into a box, and on Christmas Eve donate it all to a worthy charitable organization to distribute to those in need. Depending on the charity, you could do gifts, toiletries, food and so on. A great way to get kids thinking of others :-)

  • Since becoming disabled about 10 years ago, it has become more difficult to decorate. I love it, but it is hard to accomplish. So last year, my dear husband suggested I have the grandchildren help me. On Thanksgiving night, since we are all together anyway, we let the grandchildren decorate the tree. Such fun! It was a huge success and we made some great memories in the process!

  • Santa gifts shouldn’t be wrapped. My mom arranged each child’s Santa gifts in a pile and put our names on the backside of a gift tag. We never had trouble finding our own gifts!

  • My mom did the same with wrapping each child’s gifts in the same paper was great and we found out Chritsmas morning which paper was ours .
    For lights my mom wouldv go vertically with them was a tip she learnt as an Interior Decorator, it is much easier to put them on and take them off, and the 100 per foot rule is used in our home

  • I have a suggestion for Mom’s that have several children. To try to keep gift straight on who was who’s. I would wrap each child’s gift in a different paper, so there wasn’t any confusion. When the kids were older they would pick out the paper they liked the best and all of their gifts were wrapped in that paper. So on Christmas morning everybody knew what gifts were theirs. Was a big help when tags fell off. Merry Christmas All
    From Sherry Furry

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