Whether your style is traditional, contemporary, or completely out of the ordinary, a Christmas tree is a great canvas to express your family's personal style throughout the holiday season. Here are some tips on how to make the most of this annual tradition by keeping it simple and stress-free.
Maybe you're going the theme route, or maybe you're adorning the tree with ornaments you've collected over the years. Either way, consider these helpful hints that could save you some time and aggravation:
Assess the landscape. Figure out exactly where you want to place the tree in your home; measure the area ahead of time to make sure your tree will fit well and check that there are electrical outlets close by. Sweep or vacuum to prepare the spot before unpacking or unloading the tree.
Spruce. If you're decorating a faux tree, you'll want to fluff up the branches. Work up any areas that were flattened during storage, think about what you'll be placing on the branches as you arrange them. If you just set up a real tree, turn it a few times to determine its "best angle" and don't be afraid to do a little branch trimming here and there to even things out. Now is the time!
Don't rush! Set aside enough time to make the actual tree-trimming a leisurely afternoon or evening activity that you can enjoy. If you are trying to squeeze it into an already jam-packed hectic weekend day, its not going to be ideal. Even if it means living with a "bare" tree for a day or two, leave the decorating session for when you can take your time and really enjoy the process.
When the time is right, turn on your favorite Holiday tunes and dive in...
Roll call. Lay out all ornaments, garlands and other accessories you plan to use on your tree. This is a great opportunity to inspect your inventory and check for broken pieces, replace missing ornament hooks and assess the need for someone to make a "new lights" run before you really get going.
Light it up. If you are adding lights to your tree, this should always be the first step in the decorating process. First, connect all the strings together and plug them into the outlet - its easier to work with the full string and easier to see how the placement is working when they are lit. If you have a helper around, each take a side and hand off the string to each other as you go round and round - its the quickest and easiest way to work. Start wrapping the lights at the base of the tree and work upwards. Don't skimp and focus on keeping the strings evenly spaced - grab a sturdy chair or step ladder to have at arms reach before you begin to help you easily keep up the good work all the way to the tippy top!
Accessorize. How many yards of ribbon can you fit on a tree? As many as you want, of course! Arrange garlands, ribbons, and anything else that isn't an individual ornament on your tree next. Be sure to get the back of the tree too -don't leave any bald spots.
Adorn. Carefully place the ornaments around the tree, stepping back often to be sure things are evenly spread out. When hanging, be considerate of the weight of the ornament and the branch it's assigned to. Heavier ornaments usually do better near the top of the tree on a short branch as opposed to a lower, longer branch near the base that could be majorly weighed down.
Be cautious. If you haven't yet decided on a tree skirt, it's a good idea to throw a soft blanket under your tree while you are hanging the ornaments, especially if the tree is in a non-carpeted area. Most ornaments don't fare well when dropped on a solid surface - the few minutes it will take to protect the area will be worth it if even one glass bulb slips.
Enjoy! Make some of that special hot cocoa, sit back and marvel at your beautiful tree!
Any time-saving or smart process tips to share? Let us all know in the comments below...