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!
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.
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.
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.
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?