Decorate your Christmas tree like a professional in just 8 steps

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Now is the time to start thinking about getting the Christmas decorations down from the attic and dusting them off. For those with an artificial tree, you might be considering putting it up early to get in the festive spirit as December draws closer. Here’s a step-by-step guide to decorating your Christmas tree like a professional. 

1. Build a theme 

For a Christmas tree to look professionally decorated, it needs a theme that ties everything together. 

Choose a certain colour palette or an ornament collection to get started. 

If you need some inspiration, here are the Christmas tree themes that are popular this year: Nostalgia, vintage glamour, nature-inspired and bright and bold. 

Nostalgia – think traditional red and gold, “a timeless look that evokes a quintessential Christmas” Jennifer Derry, interior design expert at Balsam Hill said. “Traditions stand the test of time for a reason, so for those more strapped for cash this festive season, investing in a red and gold theme will return year after year.” 

Vintage glamour – hues of soft pinks and peaches, combined with gold, silver and rose gold have returned for another year. Add ornate jewels, beads, feathers and pearls for a timeless look. 

Nature-inspired – fresh greens and warm caramel tones blended from natural materials to give a rustic look that’s rich in detail. Go big on foliage and decorate with wildlife-inspired baubles and ornaments. 

Bright and bold – a palette of midnight blues, rich emerald greens, deep purples and ruby reds, softened with copper tones and glass baubles to make this theme pop. 

2. Fluff and shape 

Most artificial trees will be compressed during storage for 11 months of the year, so it’s important to fluff out each branch and step. 

While this step takes the longest, it is arguably the most important, otherwise, you’ll be tweaking the odd branch here and there every day in the run-up to Christmas. 

Place all the branches on the bottom third of the tree into the slots. Starting at the back of a branch, (closest to the inside of the tree), pull the tips upwards and to the side so they’re offset from the ones before. 

As you move towards the front of the branch, look off for sprigs that shoot off the main stem and carefully separate them to ensure fullness is created. Remember, you’re trying to create the illusion of a real tree’s branches. 

Once all branches on that level have been shaped, add the next layer of branches and go again. When you get to the top of the tree, remember to keep one spring vertical for the tree topper. 

3. String lights 

Before stringing lights on a tree, check that they’re in working order by plugging them in and checking each light. 

Begin at the bottom of the tree and loop the lights around the width of the tree, ensuring the lights are placed near the core of the tree as well as around the edges. 

If all sides of the tree are going to be on display, place the lights in a spiral. If the back of the tree is placed into a corner, consider covering 2/3 of the tree with lights. 

4. Divide the tree into sections

To decorate like a professional, view your Christmas tree in sections: top, middle, and bottom.

5. Add ornaments 

Before adding ornaments, it is a good idea to lay them all out and group them – either by colour, or similar styles and shapes. 

There are no hard and fast rules to hanging ornaments, but experts tend to begin with larger ones which get tucked deeper within the foliage to add depth. 

Brad Schmidt, a professional tree decorator said he places all of the same ornaments on the tree before moving on. For example, if he had 10 large gold baubles, they would go on first, before he added the 10 large red baubles. “That way, you get an even and overall balance of Christmas decorations,” he added. 

On the other hand, smaller ornaments look best when hung on the tips of the branches. Designers do this to create a draping effect, and a result, “a beautiful, layered look is achieved”. 

Another way to style ornaments is to cluster them together. For instance, group ornaments of the same style together for a seamless look. Or, achieve a playful contrast by using various designs instead.

6. Style with ribbons 

Professional tree decorators love to use ribbons, and wired ones are easier to shape and style. Instead of looping the ribbons around the tree, consider styling them vertically. Brad said: “The trick to creating this look effectively is to tie the ribbon into the tree so it comes in and out.” 

Choose two ribbons with different styles and widths to provide some interest and layer them to create texture. “When you come to the end of the ribbon, rolling the ribbon is a great way to finish it without cutting it,” Brad added. There are three ways to curl the ribbon: croissant, reverse roll, fishtail. 

Croissant – roll the ribbon in your hand and then pull the end down. 

Reverse roll – great for ribbons with a different pattern back, just reverse roll the ribbon to show it 

Fishtail – cut the ribbon at an angle, or a fishtail, and if you want to add interest, make a bow tie knot. 

7. Add a topper 

Nothing completes a tree like a topper. You could choose something traditional like a star or angel, but if you want a designer look, improvise with branches, ribbons, flowers and feathers, tied into an elegant bouquet. 

8. Dress it up with a skirt or collar 

Finally, to set the perfect backdrop for presents, choose a Christmas tree skirt that matches your theme. 

Tree collars are a stylish alternative and can be crafted from a variety of materials like galvanised metal, wicker, shells and many more. They easily wrap around the tree stand for a quick and easy finishing touch.

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