Christmas Tree Decorating Tips

We appreciate the opportunity in helping you to decorate your own special tree. Following are a few guidelines that we, here at Christmas Place, have found to be helpful.

Choosing The Correct Lights

Choose the color or colors that coordinate best with your decorations. Select green cords to use on green trees, whether flocked or unflocked. White cords should be used on white trees.

If you have an artificial tree and know how many branch tips it has, multiply the number of branch tips by .60 (60%). For example, a tree with 1,500 tips would require 1,500 x .60 = 900 miniature lights. You can adjust the percentage for a more heavily or lightly lit tree. Note: If you don't know the number of branch tips, a general rule is 100 bulbs per foot of tree height. Start by running a nine (9) plug extension cord down the center of the tree to keep from using so many cords. Also a multi-outlet strip will help so that you can control the on/off step with a switch rather than plugging and unplugging. The outlet strip will also control the sudden current that happens, when all lights are plugged and unplugged and will help extend the life of your lights, especially if you have a pre-lit tree or if you leave your lights on, even during storage.

Follow the instructions that came with your light sets to determine how many sets can be safely plugged together. Use only one kind of light set throughout your tree; do not plug together different brands of light sets or sets with different numbers of bulbs. (Example: Do not plug a 35-light set to a 50-light set, etc). Check each light set before using. If a set doesn't light, begin at the plug end and make sure that each socket has a tight-fitting bulb. Save all the extra bulbs. Replace burned-out bulbs immediately to prevent strain on the remaining ones.

Lighting The Tree

Like every other step in trimming your tree, applying lights will be much easier if you follow a plan.

First, secure an extension cord to the middle of the tree trunk. Then plug the extension cord into a plug strip and start lighting your tree at the bottom and work upward. If your tree has hinged branches, it is easiest to tie up the branches above the layer you are lighting. After you finish a layer, untie it and let down the next layer. After you have attached the light set to the bare branch, move to the next branch. As you move through the tree, try to use consistent spacing between the lights.

If you finish a section of the tree and have lights left over, pull your light set back to the trunk of that section and wrap the excess lights around the tree trunk. After you have completed the lighting of your tree, fluff the branches by arranging the tips to achieve the desired shape.

Note: Decorative light sets are considered lighted ornaments and should be added after regular lighting is completed. Plan on five 10-light sets of decorative lights for an average seven-foot tree. Use a seperate extension cord for novelty (decorative) lights.

Garlands and Colored Balls

Basic glass balls are the mainstay of any tree and help establish color and shine. To begin, you will want to fill the interior of your tree with dominant-colored balls to create a sense of depth and fill empty spaces. Smaller, lighter-colored balls should be placed toward the outer edges of the tree for shine and sparkle.

When choosing a garland style, don't be afraid to use a combination of looks. Choose garlands that complement your ornament theme and colors. From ribbons, popcorn, pine cones and florals to basic beads, there are dozens of ways to add a distinctive touch to your tree.

Don't limit yourself to using just one strand or type of garland. Try twisting several strands together to create a thicker, more interesting look to your tree. For a more formal look, hang similar ornaments, bows, artificial fruit or flowers at the peak of each swag of garland.

To swag garland, begin at the back of the tree along the bottom. Twist or hook the garland to a tip, then swag the garland gracefully from tip to tip. Use 12" to 20" swags, depending on the width of the tree. Let the swag fall freely and naturally. Continue around the tree. Either cut or secure the garland or swag up to the next layer on the backside of the tree. The swags should become smaller as you go up the tree. The more uniform the swag, the more formal the look. To double swag, start your swag with two strands, then allow one strand to hang lower than the other meeting again at the same point.

Selecting Ornaments

Many people feel a Christmas tree will look it's best with a predominant theme. If your ornament collection doesn't already have a theme, establishing one can be very easy.

Repetition is one key to developing a theme. It can be as simple as decorating with ornaments either of the same color tones, shape or texture. Adding garlands, swags, cascades, or bows of ribbon in one color or pattern are other ways to create a theme. Generally, try to keep your theme in one basic motif: folk art, religious, juvenile, natural, romance, Santa, etc.

Placing Ornaments

Lighted or animated ornaments that plug into a bulb socket should be placed early since they require a position within reach of the light cord. Only use four (4) per 50 sets of lights or it will put a strain on the current and lights will burn out more quickly.

Establish balance for your tree by putting the most dominant group or largest number of ornaments on first. Each size, shape, texture and color should be distributed over the entire tree. However, hang larger or more dominant ornaments on the lower part of the tree for balance. Note: Place larger ornaments on the tree before the smaller ones taking advantage of larger openings.

Your ornaments will look better if they hang suspended rather than touching branches. You might also try clustering several ornaments for dramatic effect: combine different colors, sizes, or shapes together on one ornament hook or tie them together with ribbon. Place the clusters symmetrically throughout the tree. Don't be afraid to bend or move branches to accommodate your choices.

The most important ornament is your treetop. Stars, angels or special lighted treetops are all very popular. Or you can use a giant bow or cluster of ornaments.

Finish your tree by covering the base with a tree skirt and surrounding liberally with presents. Now, enjoy your visual feast!

Tree Height # Bulbs Garland Length # Decorations
4 Ft 200-400 10 Ft 35-50
6 Ft 400-600 24 Ft 50-75
7 Ft 500-700 40 Ft 75-100
7.5 Ft 500-750 75 Ft 125-175
8 Ft 600-800 90 Ft 175-225
10 Ft 800-1000 100 Ft 200-300