So it’s that time of year again, when you either dig your artificial tree out of storage or you take a trek to the local tree lot to pick up a fresh pine. Each tree type has it challenges, but when conquered, will give you a season of sparkly delight. Here are our tips for Christmas tree wrangling.
Getting it Home
Ok, so if you’re using the artificial one from the attic or basement, this doesn’t apply to you. (Just sit there and gloat while we help the folks trying to get a real one home.)
When you purchase a real Christmas tree, it will either be freely branching or it will have a mesh wrapping around it. The mesh wrapping is good! It will make your job much easier. If your tree is wild and free, you should use at least three bungee cords – top, middle, bottom – to bundle the branches before you try stuffing it in/on your car.
Next, decide if the tree will fit inside your vehicle, or if it needs to go on the top. If putting it into your car, be sure to insert it top first, as that part is narrower and it will make pulling it out when you get home much easier. If you have a hatchback, you may let the base of the tree stick out, but be sure to secure it inside the car, as you don’t want to lose it if you stop suddenly. Also if it sticks out, tie an orange strip to the base to alert drivers behind you. If the tree must travel on the top of your vehicle, open all four doors. Place the tree on top, with the base pointing to the front of the car. This will provide stability. Then tie the tree in place with at least three ropes which go over the tree and in through the open doors (never the windows). When you close the doors, they will hold the tree securely in place.
Setting it Up
The most stable stand for an artificial tree is one with four legs. While a three-legged stand will work, it will be more prone to tipping. For a real tree, get a plastic stand that has a wide base/water reservoir and at least four securing pins. Avoid the metal, three-legged stands which have a tiny water reservoir under the feet. While the setting up the base might seem like a ho-hum task, it is vital that this step be very solid and secure.
Once securely in the stand, add water to the reservoir and add a tree skirt before you begin to decorate. These tasks are much easier when there are no fragile, dangling lovelies in your way.
Decorate Like a Ninja
The first step in decorating is to add lights. If your tree is pre-lit, take a nap now. Many novice tree-decorators just wrap the lights around and around, but YOU are not a newbie! Instead, apply the lights in an in-and-out pattern, spiraling down the tree. In other words, start at each branch tip, then push the light string in toward the center, then out toward the next branch tip, etc. This will fill your tree with light and will avoid the pitfall of empty or dark spots.
Next up is the beads or ribbon. Again, do NOT wrap them around and around in a downward spiral, but instead, let’s add these baubles with some finesse! For beads, begin at the top, securing the end with an ornament hook. then, working gradually around and downward, let the beads drape on longer branches in a graceful swoop. Secure the end with another ornament hook.
If you choose to use ribbon rather than beads, follow a similar technique – no wrapping, like the left image, but instead, drape the ribbon as the beads on the right image. It’s best to use wired ribbon to have better control. Also, use small straight pins to secure the ribbon on several branches. This will assure that it stays put! Another technique when draping ribbon is to twist the spool as you do the drapes. This twisting creates graceful loops in the ribbon, and looks quite lovely. Secure the ribbon end with another straight pin.
If you use ribbon or beads, you can also repeat the process with a coordinating color to add interest and variety. The tree at the right uses two different ribbons – a gold lamé and a cream with gold stripe.
After the beads or ribbons are in place, it’s time to add all the other ornaments you associate with decorating the tree!
When deciding which ornaments to use, select a color theme, such as cream and gold or gold and burgundy or red and green. Try to use ornaments which fall into that color scheme, and your tree will have a polished, homogeneous feel.
Use larger balls and ornaments near the tree base. You might even wish to group three balls together in clumps, if you have no large ones to put near the bottom. As you fill in the decorations, occasionally step back and look at the big picture. This will help you notice empty areas as well as spots which have too much in one location. Adjust accordingly.
At last, you should put on the tree topper. If you’re like us, you’ve probably struggled either getting that angel or star to:
1. Stay in place
2. Be straight!
There are secrets you can use to even conquer this! You could visit a pricey store and purchase a green-colored rod to secure to the topmost branch. But why pay that much? Just grab a wooden dowel rod at your favorite craft store, paint it green, and twistie-tie it in place. The dowel will give stability and support when you insert the topper. Another option, if your topper has a cone-shaped base, is to purchase a cone of floral arranging Styrofoam. Insert this cone onto your center branch and slip the topper over the cone. fluff the branches around the floral cone to hide it. The Styrofoam cone will give much greater stability to your topper. And you won’t have any falling stars or fallen angels randomly crashing to the floor!
We hope these tree-decorating tips help your Holiday Season be merry and bright! Here’s our finished version: