Why do department store Christmas trees always look so beautiful? What’s the secret to the gorgeous Christmas trees in department stores, and is there a way you can have one like that in your home? The answer is Yes. I get tons of compliments on my tree, and I’m going to invite you into my house to show you step by step exactly what I do to get that magical Christmas look (It’s not as hard as you’d think).
Growing up, my mother would string the lights, and my sisters and I would go and put the ornaments on. It was a family tree, so we each had our birth ornament and craft ornaments we made along with survivors of old sets that were nearly all gone, to bright shiny new ones. Our tree was beautiful in that it carried with it all of the memories of Christmas’s past. So if your tree looks cluttered but makes you feel warm and fuzzy, that’s okay. This holiday is all about feeling good.
If you want to change the look of your tree but you have little ones with cute little keepsakes, I would suggest starting an ornament wall. Find a wall (I recommend one in the dining room) and attach some string or wire to hang the children’s ornaments on along with any Christmas cards you get. This way they can still be admired, but they’ll free up the tree to look a little more grown-up.
Let’s talk about trees. I have a basic plastic tree. I feel it’s better to “re-use” it every year as opposed to chopping down a perfectly good tree. Growing up, my mother bought a real tree once, and it wasn’t worth the effort. The needles hurt, and they fell out all the time, and it eventually got dry and started losing even more needles, which we would step on and have to clean up daily. Also, our dog loved to drink the water the tree was in. So having a tree I assemble every year is the way I decided to go.
If you’re going to go out and get a live tree, please be sure to measure how much room you have from floor to ceiling. It’s a running joke during the holidays that people get the biggest tree only to find that it doesn’t properly fit in their home. Also, know that the bigger the tree doesn’t mean the more glamorous. I can make even tiny miniature trees look so adorable with the tricks I’m about to tell you.
I also have had trees that were unlit and pre-lit, and I have to say I favor the unlit ones. I like the control of choosing the color of lights and how many to put on. Also, I didn’t have a lot of success with the pre-lit ones staying lit for very long. In my opinion, they just weren’t worth the cash. Additionally, I’ve noticed that not everyone knows to arrange the branches, so the tree looks full, if you have a tree that comes in a box, please do this!
When I put lights on my tree, I like to interweave them in the branches going over and under branches. If an area looked dark I’d do one wrap around a branch and go back to my over and under approach.
I grew up with multi-colored lights and that made the tree look like it was covered in candy. However, as an adult, I have fallen in love with the sleek and classic look of white lights. You can choose whichever lights you wish, but I recommend getting at least a few extra packs than you think you will need. I’ve had this happen several times where I realize that I don’t have enough lights to cover the bottom, and I have to stop decorating so that I can get more lights. This year, for my tree, I bought 5 packs of the 200 count LED lights in “warm white”. That’s 1,000 lights just on my tree! But you can see how worth it it was!
What are your house colors? No I don’t mean from Harry Potter (though you could go that route if you wanted to). I’m talking about what are the colors that best represent you and your home. It’s not something that is thought of very much. For me, I like warm colors during the winter (because you know…it snows where I live), so that knocks out colors like blue and silver. Now when I lived in Florida, my mom decorated our home in blue and silver because Florida is a tropical area, and it could take cooler colors because the coldest it seemed to get was 55 degrees, and we never got snow. Out of all the warm colors, I think Red and Gold are absolutely gorgeous, and then you count the green of the tree, so the colors of my home go into green, gold, and red. This means when I go shopping for ornaments or even lights, I keep that in mind. I don’t like the way gold lights look, so I substitute with white. Pinterest and department stores are great places to get ideas for color combos.
A Christmas tree is a cat’s playground, and I have two cats, so that meant I had to get a bit creative with my ornaments. Firstly, I buy plastic ornaments. I just got tired of cleaning up the glass and worrying that my cats would hurt themselves. The downside of this is I can usually hear when they knock one off the tree and start rolling it around to play in the middle of the night. The other thing I started doing that prevented them from being knocked off the tree in the first place is to replace the hooks with red ribbon. Not only did this make it harder for the cats to just bat them off the tree, but it added a little more contrasting color to the green of the tree!
Don’t think that that’s all you can have on your tree, though! While red and gold are my go-to colors, I make sure to hang some ornaments that contain special memories. I have my birth ornament, a few ornaments I gave my husband when we started dating, our wedding ornament, and a few from Taronga Zoo that I bought on my trip to Australia. I believe every home tree needs to have a little personality, and you pull that off by only hanging that which warms your heart.
Christmas is all about those extras, so it would only make sense that you want some extras for your tree! I use beaded garland. You would think it wouldn’t make a difference until you put it on and it makes everything come together. I’ve used both wooden beads and shiny plastic ones, and to be honest, I love both.
I adore these little extra gold branches, gold “berries” and sparkling Poinsettia. I only have 6 of the large gold branches, but man, they make a statement and bring that magic. The addition of berries and poinsettia acts as a filler for those areas on the tree that may not be able to fit an ornament or are a little bare of lights.
I hope that helps. It’s taken a few years for me to figure this out and collect the necessary materials to make it look this way, but I love my tree. Don’t be afraid to consider different colors, trees, themes, or lights. There are so many great ideas online about how to decorate for the holidays. Ultimately though, it’s about what you feel proud of. Christmas isn’t about impressing your neighbors; it’s about making beautiful memories even if you’re by yourself. If you like a colorful tree packed with special moments, then go for it! Embrace it and don’t you dare change a thing if it brings a smile to your face.
If you want to tell me about your tree decor for this year, please write me in the comments below (I love talking to my readers). If you’d like to share pics of your tree this year, please tag me on my social media (Facebook and Instagram are the ones I am on the most). Lastly, if you’d like to be kept up to date on future posts, please click HERE to get on my mailing list. Regardless if you’re with family or sledding solo this year, I want you to know that I wish you a beautiful holiday season. Never forget that you’re special and deserve lovely moments in your life. -Heather Astaneh