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How to Expertly Decorate a Christmas Tree Layer by Layer

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There are many ways to decorate a Christmas tree, but deep down, most of us aspire to create the picture-perfect version. This type of Christmas tree is beautifully bushy and upright, every ornament is exquisitely crafted (and they coordinate with your chosen theme), the fairy lights are fully operational and twinkle ever so softly, and there is not a shred of tinsel in sight!

In all honesty, we all really want to know how to decorate a Christmas tree professionally. To find out, we asked stylist Ashley Pratt. Take a look below for her tips to make your Christmas tree shine its brightest!

Before You Start

A Christmas tree is normally the focal point of your home for the festive season, so it’s important to give some thought to what yours will look like and plan ahead. As a starting point, I’d suggest working out the scale of the tree. Which room will it sit in? What size can fit in the room? How much space do you need to move around it? Personally I always go for over-sized trees whenever possible (I like the grandeur). However, this won’t work if you live in a small apartment. My advice? Go as big as you can for the space you’re in.

Types of Christmas Trees

The other important factor to consider early on is what type of tree you want. There are so many options now: real or fake spruce, timber, wire, or even a washi tape tree on the wall.

I love the fresh smell of a real tree, but the needles are the enemy of my clean-freak self. A couple of years ago I discovered Balsam Hill. They make faux trees of all different species that look like the real-deal — and best of all, you can buy them with the fairy lights already attached. If I burn a pine needle scented candle, it feels even closer to the fir tree scent I love.

Christmas Tree Decorations

My decorations tend to change year to year. Sure, I have my classics — heirloom baubles that were my grandmother’s, a set of wire chandelier decorations that I splurged on the first year I had my own tree — but I like adding to these with new pieces every year.

I’ll choose a color theme for the season, then my tree trimmings, wrapping paper, and other decorations will all tie in with it. They could be anything from paper to glass, but my advice would be not to overload the tree with too many varying types. Choose maybe five to six decorations, and buy multiples of them for a more refined look.

Step by Step

Everyone has a different way of decorating the tree, but I like to work top to bottom and in layers. The first layer will be classic single color baubles. These provide a great base when evenly spaced out. The second layer will be more special trimmings, anything decorative or colorful. Again, evenly space them out and don’t leave any gaps, but try to focus your most precious ones where they will be seen clearly. For the last layer, I’ll go back over the tree and fill any gaps with tied ribbon or stems of faux flowers.

Base Instincts

The base of a tree should always be concealed. A classic tree skirt will do the trick, but if you’re looking to use a household item, you can simply wrap a beautiful piece of fabric around the base and tie it up with a big ribbon. My personal favorite is to place my tree in a big wicker basket. I feel it really anchors the tree in a space.

Decorating With Kids

Growing up, my mom always made decorating the tree such a special day and gave us kids creative freedom when it came to adding the trimmings. I’m probably a little more of a perfectionist and would prefer to keep the tree thoughtful and symmetrical. One idea would be to have the kids decorate one of their own baubles to add to the tree. Having a couple of handmade decorations will add a little touch of charm and still keep it refined.

Whatever tree you choose or theme you run with, the special part of decorating your tree is gathering the family around, turning up the Christmas carols, and marking the start of the festive season.

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