How To Professionally Decorate a Christmas Tree – Designer’s Step-By-Step Directions
THE ULTIMATE STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE FOR HOW TO DECORATE YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE LIKE A PROFESSIONAL DESIGNER!
My friends, this is one blog post that you’re going to want to pin to your Christmas Decorating Boards so that you can refer to it year after year. This is THAT GOOD and there’s a great pinnable image below!
I’ve had the privilege to get special access to several local home decor stores over the last few years, while their stores were closed and their designers reset the entire place for Christmas. It was a truly magical experience for me and boy did I ever learn a lot!
All of the store designers are amazingly talented and were kind enough to share all of their step-by-step Christmas tree decoration ideas. I was also told some designer Christmas tree decorating secrets so of course I’m going to share them with you!
You’ll see images from several different Christmas trees, as there were multiple Christmas trees being decorated at the same time. The important thing to remember is that these steps can be followed no matter what style or color of Christmas decor you want to use on your tree!
STEP 1: READY THE TREE & GATHER SUPPLIES
- Maybe this goes without saying, but fluff all of the branches on the tree and make sure that the tree is standing straight from top to bottom. I’ve completely decorated a tree more than once, only to realize that the top half of the tree is leaning.
- Make sure that all of the lights are working. It’s much easier to fix any problems before the decorations are on the tree.
- The designers recommend that you have the tree lights on while decorating.
- Supplies that you’ll likely use while decorating your tree are: ornament hooks, floral wire, pipe cleaners, zip ties (for heavy or bulky items), wire snips and scissors
STEP 2: START AT THE TOP
- The Christmas tree topper is considered the crowning glory, is usually a bit elaborate and helps to set the look for the entire tree.
- If you will be adding a star, angel, etc. to your tree, it’s best not to place it right on the tip-top of the tree. Depending upon what you’re using, it can be very appealing to place it about a hand’s width down from the tip-top. It can be attached with floral wire or zip ties. If you attach it slightly down from the top, it should be buried into the branches a little instead of looking like it’s floating on the ends of the branches.
- Most items, such as a star or angel, look the best (and draw more attention) when they are combined with something else, such as picks and/or ribbon. And good grief – these days picks are available in all varieties and colors!
- If you’re using a star, angel, etc. for the top of your tree, start the first layer of topper picks a little below it by adding 3 long spikey picks.
- If you aren’t using anything else on top of your tree, start the first layer of topper picks slightly down from the top.
- For the second layer of topper picks, choose 3 – 4 slightly shorter and more full picks. Place these a few inches closer to the top than the original 3 spikey picks.
- Add a third layer of picks using shorter and more full picks.
- Don’t think you have to point them going straight up. Picks pointing straight up (or at a slight angle) combined with picks pointing downward add a lot of interest. Depending upon what type of pick you’re using, you may actually want to turn the pick upside down, so that the top of the pick is facing whomever is looking up at the tree topper, especially if your tree is taller than normal head height.
STEP 3: ADD THE GARLAND
A lush, full garland can make a huge impact on a tree! These tips are referring to the type of garland that you might also use on a mantel, not the lightweight kind that drapes along the edges of the branches.
- Start about 1/5th of the way down from the top of the tree.
- Use floral wire to attach the garland or twist the branches together, if the tree is artificial.
- Run the garland at around the tree at an angle: 2 – 3 times around a 6′ tree and 3 – 4 times around a 9′ tree.
STEP 4: ADD OVERSIZED DECORATIONS
- To make a real statement and really give your tree a designer look add oversized exaggerated decorations to the tree! What you add is only limited by your imagination!
- Add 2 – 3 oversized items to a 6′ tree and 3 – 4 items to a 9′ tree.
- Be sure to stagger them around the tree and not placed directly above or directly beside one another.
- Place the largest Christmas decorations toward the bottom of the tree.
- Mix them up – all of the items don’t need to match.
- A tip from the professional tree designers is to drill a hole into whatever you’re hanging if you need a spot to run a hanger through.
- Use cable ties, floral wire or pipe cleaners to attach large items to the tree. The boot, on the tree, below was purchased at a thrift store with the express purpose of using it on the tree, so it was fine to drill a hole into the backside. Think outside of the box!
STEP 5: ADD FILLER
- Add less expensive Christmas ornaments, such as plain round ones, deep inside of the tree. You’ll only get a glimpse of them, but it they will help to reflect the lights and will make the tree look more full and will fill up any empty spots inside the tree.
- It’s easier to hang these filler ornaments now as opposed to when the “outside” of the tree is filled with other, larger ornaments.
STEP 6: ADD ORNAMENTS
- Now that you’ve filled the inside of the tree with inexpensive ornaments, add the more special ones to the outer part of the tree. Use a mix of both large and small ornaments, but hang the largest ornaments first and then follow up with the medium sized ones and then the smaller ornaments.
- Try nestling large tree ornaments slightly into the tree instead of just hanging them on the tips of the branches.
- Pipe cleaners or floral wire works best to hang ornaments with rather than traditional ornament hangers. Bonus – you can reuse them next year!
- Snug the ornament up against the tree branch when attaching it to the tree instead of letting it dangle.
Use long ornaments to help fill empty spaces.
STEP 7: ADD DIMENSION WITH PICKS
- Give your Christmas tree more dimension, fill in holes and make the tree appear larger by adding picks throughout the body of it. The picks should extend beyond the ends of the branches and should be angled in various directions – some downward, some upward and some sideways, if appropriate for the pick.
The picks closest to the top of the tree may need to be turned upside down so that you aren’t looking at the underside of it.
- Stagger various types of picks all over the tree. Don’t put the same type of picks too close to one another.
- Multiple picks combined together in a cluster typically look better than just one lonely pick. Try combining three different types of picks together. For example – combine something with greenery with something long and stick looking (with or without leaves) and with something full (like a flower).
- Lay the longest pick on the bottom, the second shortest one on top of that and the shortest pick on top of those two. Then spend a minute fluffing all of the parts of the picks, twisting and mixing the parts of each pick together. You’ll get a much more natural and professional look that way. No flat picks allowed!
- Poke the pick into the tree and attach it to the branch with a cable tie or with floral wire, if necessary. Fluff the tree branches into and around the pick to help it look like it’s a part of the tree.
- A long pick makes a great place to hang a special Christmas ornament too.
STEP 8: EMBELLISH THE TREE WITH EXTRAS
- Add decor embellishments such as ribbon, lightweight garland and glitter tape once all of the picks, ornaments and oversized pieces have been added to the tree
- To add glitter tape, start attaching it near the top, but below the topper. Wind it around the tree similar to how you applied the garland in Step 3.
- Glitter tape has a mind of its own, so allow it to twist and turn as you go. That’s what makes it look so great!
- You’ll use less ribbon if you cut short pieces and stuff the ends of them into the tree as opposed to using one long continuous piece of ribbon. Using this method also makes the ribbon look more natural.
- Twist a tree branch around the ribbon if it won’t stay in place.
- When adding ribbon to the tree, start at eye level and work up and out from there. I can’t tell you why this works better, but it does!
- Place the ribbon going in different directions so that it doesn’t appear as if it’s just wrapped around the tree.
You’re finished! Now get ready to enjoy the oohs and aahs of your family and friends and answer all those questions about who you hired to decorate your tree!
I’ve never heard of flexible glItter tape but I really like how it looks. Where would I find it?
Hi Felicia. I’ve mostly seen it in smaller specialty stores that sell Christmas decorations. You may be able to find it in a florist’s shop too. Hope this helps!
Thanks so much! I will be in the look out.
Thank you so much for posting all these helpful hints. We all know how we’ve “always decorated our tree” but having new ideas really helps! I’m certain I’ll refer back to these many times. Thanks for sharing. Vicki in Louisville, KY.
Very helpful!! Now I just need a spot for my 2nd tree that I can put all the kid’s ornaments on in order to have my “grown-up” tree!!
This is a really informative post. Just what I needed to get that professional polished look for my Christmas trees. Thank you.
I used to have beautifully decorated trees like this when we had our big house–they are so pretty! Now I just have the family tree.
There is a green wall pocket in one of the tree displays on this page that i would luv to have. Please email me if this is something i can purchase!! Enjoyed the tree decorating.
Very useful! Thank you for the tutorial.
Best tutorial ever and I’ve been looking at many different ones. Thank you!
Thanks for the awesome tips Suzy!this was so helpful!
Wow! What fantastic information! I really needed someone to break down the steps for decorating a beautiful tree and you really came to my rescue! Thanks so very much!!
I truly LOVE that you use color thru out your home.. Many bloggers have gone all white and its just so pale to the eye.. Nothing really pops out ! Okay now, this is the first year in a long time that I waited so long to put my tree up (like yesterday) but we had lots of company. And I have not felt the urge or enjoyment to decorate this year.. but I did just a bit. I am not pleased at all how my tree looks but maybe its because I wasn’t in the mood and oh boy does it show ! My ornaments are a mishmash of several (okay many) years of ornaments. and my biggest challenge is placing the ribbon ! Maybe on one of your posts you could talk about where to buy various kinds of ornaments. I am so tired of the big box ornaments (W and T the most popular) Thanks for a great article !
Thank you for the suggestion! I don’t spend a lot of money on my ornaments, so most of them come from At Home, Kirklands and Hobby Lobby. Occasionally, I’ll order some from Amazon too.
Thank you for this blog post, but I believe my pin that got me here used to lead me to a video of the lady in the 7th photo (and another lady who wore a black apron and gray hat). It was really helpful as well. Is that no longer available?
Hi Kelly. You can now access the video through my little YouTube channel. Here’s the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3As416i-MY
Wow! The information is so helpful but I simply don’t have the budget to do a tree with this many ornaments….especially if I was to use larger sized ornaments and all the other things. However, I did learn some new tricks so the post was wonderful!
I totally get the budget issue! I certainly don’t buy new ornaments every year, but I try to apply these principles using what I already own. I’m glad you found some tips!
I believe the pin that got me here used to lead me to a video of the lady in the 5th photo. I don’t spend a lot of money on my ornaments, so most of them come from At Home. I certainly don’t buy new ornaments every year, but I try to apply these principles using what I already own. I really needed someone to break down the steps for decorating a beautiful tree and you really came to my rescue! Thanks so very much.
I’m so, so glad that you found this post helpful! Thank you for letting me know.
Hi Suzy, I am interested in purchasing the glitter tape that you have on your tree. The ones that I found on line seemed like it was very thin. Yours looks like it is thicker. Could you please give me some information as to the thickness and width of your tape as it is beautiful. Also if you have any suggestions as to where I could purchase it. Thank you so much for all of the photos and suggestions that you have given us. I always look forward to your posting on my email. Thank you for all your help. Jan
Hi Jan. My apologies for not replying sooner! I’m having a technical difficulty that’s been preventing from being notified of new comments. Thank you so much for your kind words! I so wish that I could give you a link to the glitter tape, but the shop where I purchased it several years ago is no longer in business. 🙁 I haven’t been able to find it online either.
I have never heard of a “pick” – what is this? You seem to find them indispensable.
A pick is a stem, usually 12″ to 18″ long, that has faux greenery, flowers or other things attached to it. Hope that makes sense!
Hi Suzy! Very informative post! Thank you! Could you tell us about lighting? I always use Tons but it seems maybe this isn’t so important? I do tuck them in to give depth tho. Thanks again
I should have included that in the things to consider! The number of lights on the tree is very important! It’s a matter of personal preference, but I love lots of lights too. I despise adding lights to a tree, so I always buy prelit and look for a tree that has lots of lights on it. If I were adding lights though, I would do as you do – tuck them in for added depth and try to hide the wires as much as possible.
Wow, I am so grateful to have found you! I just finished decorating my tree and felt it needed a little bit more! Your post was just what I needed. Thank you!
I’m so glad to hear that you found it helpful! Merry Christmas!
Hi Suzy! Fantastic informative post Learned some great new tips and tricks to get inspired for the upcoming season. My question is if you always use an artificial tree to allow for the weight of all the things you are adding? My family prefers a fresh tree and we typically purchase a Noble for the strong branches…but there is a limit to what I feel I can safely put on the tree. Thanks & Merry, Merry!
Thank you for letting me know that you found this post helpful! Because of the way that I decorate, I do use artificial trees for exactly the reason that you mentioned. Merry Christmas early! 😀
Okay, so if we were to go that direction, do you have brand suggestion for the heartiest artificial tree?
For quality, beauty, fullness and ease of assembly, I recommend King of Christmas. I personally own two of their trees and am very happy with them. https://www.kingofchristmas.com/
Thank you so much! I plan on getting my “Merry” on extra early this year…our world needs a little more wherever we can get it. Thanks again~