1906 christmas tree
Beautiful Christmas tree. Photo: CNN

Here are three simple steps to decorate your own Christmas tree:

Step 1: Hang Your Christmas Tree Lights

The first step in how to decorate a Christmas tree is adding the lights. Tree lights typically come on green or white wire strands, though you can also find black variations now, perfect if you happen to have a black Christmas tree. Choose the strand color that matches your tree so the wire will be hidden. Illuminating your Christmas tree from the inside out will give it the most dynamic look. Start at the base of the trunk and work your way up, wrapping lights around every major branch, moving from the trunk to the tip and back. Fluff the branches as you work your way around the tree.

Step 2: Add Christmas Tree Garland

There are no firm rules for decorating a Christmas tree when it comes to draping garland. To avoid branches bulging between tightly cinched garland strands, start at the top of the tree, and slowly increase the amount of garland between each wave as you work your way down the branches. Plan to use about two strands of garland for every vertical foot of tree.

To avoid a busy look on your tree, decorate your Christmas tree with a variety of garlands from plain to fancy. Thin, beaded garlands look best hung from branch to branch; thicker paper, ribbon, or foil garlands look best wrapped loosely around the entire tree. If you're still in need of a garland, consider making one this holiday season.

According to BHG, decorating a Christmas tree with ribbon is a popular alternative to a garland. Loosely wrap wide, patterned ribbon around the entire tree in horizontal bands. To add interest, try making big bows from a similar ribbon and using them to decorate the tree branches. Once you know how to decorate a tree with ribbon, try and amp it up by using ribbon vertically on the tree, creating cascading streams of ribbon from the top of your tree to the base, tucking the ends under your tree topper, and securing around the trunk at the base.

Step 3: Hang Christmas Tree Ornaments

The final step in decorating your tree is to hang your Christmas ornaments. Here's what to consider as you're adding Christmas tree decorations.

  • To showcase your favorite ornaments, place them in prime positions on the tree first.

  • Next, hang your larger ornaments, spacing them evenly around the tree. Ornament balls in one color but several sizes and textures will create continuity from top to bottom. Hang the larger ones on the bottom, the smaller at the top.

  • Fill in around those ornaments with medium- and small-size ornaments. Be sure to hang some ornaments closer to the trunk to create depth and interest. They reflect the light to make your tree sparkle from the inside. Make the tree yours by adding specialty items, such as handmade ornaments, clip-on ornaments, or icicles.

  • Finish the look with a simple tree topper and a festive tree skirt.

Stand back and study your tree from various angles (we recommend squinting your eyes) to determine if there are empty areas to fill

How to choose a Christmas tree?

There are many things to contemplate when choosing a tree. You need to consider cost, size, and desired longevity of the tree. Think about what kind of tree you prefer … short and fat, tall and narrow, classic cone shape, etc.

Apart from cost, size is probably the most important factor. To find the perfect tree, measure your ceiling height. Your tree should be at least 6-inches shorter than your ceiling height (preferably a foot) to ensure you have enough room for a topper. Width is also important. Figure out how much space you’ll have around your tree and choose accordingly. If you live in a small apartment like me, look for a slim Christmas tree.

If you’re purchasing an artificial tree, you should seriously consider getting a prelit tree. They are more expensive, but they’ll save so much time and frustration.

If you're looking for a real tree, you’ll find the freshest trees at cut-your-own farms, obviously. But whether you’re cutting your own tree or buying one on the street corner, run your fingers along the branches to make sure needles feel soft, fresh, and do not fall off en masse. Give the tree a little shake, too. When you get home, cut at least an inch from the stem, then get your tree in the water asap.

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