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Ask the Expert: How to Decorate the Perfect Christmas Tree

There are some Christmas trees that are only called that because they have a tree shape and are decorated. And then there are those fabulous trees that represent the heart and soul of the tree-trimmers, those people who are like Christmas elves and take on the responsibility of keeping alive the tradition of a creating something truly festive.

This article is not “tree-trimming 101,” rather it’s more about the creative process to achieve a glorious tree that not only reflects by illuminating light but by reflecting your own personal style, too.

Here are the tips you might not know:

1. Assess your ornamentsJust because you have a large collection doesn’t mean that you have to use them year in and year out. Consider editing your collection for a new streamlined look that allows you to create a theme. 

2. Your tree-topper ornament should be put on first. There are two reasons for this: If the tree is fully trimmed and you need a ladder to put the topper on, you risk bumping the tree and knocking off and breaking expensive and cherished ornaments. Just as important, it sets the scale of decorating below and around the tree.

3. Let’s talk about skirts. I prefer to go to the fabric store and—for less than $30—buy fabulous felt fabric. Available in a variety of understated colors, it looks elegant and does the job of covering; simply pool it around rather than cut it to be round. It takes about four yards to get sufficient coverage.

For those of you who love something OTT, try this: recycle an old prom dress or wedding dress purchased from a thrift store—anything festive and full. Simply cut the top off the skirt, make a long slit and wrap it around your tree. What a great way to get sparkles, sequins and taffeta for Christmas without having to wear them!

4. Although some might disagree, garland for me is a no-no. In the same way that horizontal stripes are not flattering on most, garland wrapped and wrapped around the tree can be distracting, look sloppy and take away from the overall aesthetic.

5. Prioritize your ornaments when hanging them: put your cherished and most fragile ornaments on the tree first, giving them the best real estate for maximizing visual interest.

6. An artificial tree can look just as natural as a fresh tree if you decorate with natural elements such as Pinecones, Baby’s Breath and dried Hydrangeas.

7. Make sure to include some ornaments that move or have moving parts; dangle from clear fishing line. Suspending them this way creates whimsy and children of all ages will love it, including me!

8. Personalize. Encourage your children (and others, too) to make ornaments that match your theme. I also love to include an ornament that indicates the year. This is a great way to make each and every year memorable. Also, if you have a newborn, baby socks and baby shoes make adorable ornaments. Write the name and date of birth on the bottom.

So, as you can see, it’s easy to avoid having a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. This is a passionate, creative and heart-felt accessory to the holiday festivities. For me, this year is all about illumination, sparkle and the glitz. Since I would never be caught in a bedazzled holiday sweater, I’ll simply bedazzle a tree!

And there you have it.

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Meet our Writer
Jennifer Geddes
Celebrations Writer

Jennifer Kelly Geddes has hosted Christmas cookie swaps, New Year's open houses, Thanksgiving for 22, and all manner of dinner parties in her Manhattan and Ghent, NY homes.

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