Top Tips for Christmas Decorating
If you want a snow effect, spray the tree before you’ve added any lighting or decorations to prevent them from getting covered. Give the snow a full 30 minutes to dry before proceeding.
There may be a period of a few weeks before gifts are added; so hiding the base and any unsightly wires etc is essential. Useful items for this job are a tweed coloured throw (or similar), a small pile of logs, a hessian sack for the base to sit in and tied with a large bow, a large log basket or some empty, wrapped parcels, which can easily be replaced with the real thing nearer the time.
Don’t be afraid to clip any wayward branches and if you do have any bald spots, clip a branch or two from the back of the tree and tie to the trunk with twine or dark floristry wire. Faux foliage, such as lengths of ivy, sprigs of eucalyptus or similar can help create the required shape, should the tree need it.
When using lights, always check they work and that they’re the right colour before attempting to hang on the tree – white lights for silver and frosted schemes work well, while warmer bulbs are perfect for gold and woody tones. Check that your tree is near a power source and that it’s easy to access to switch on and off.
To check where the lights are in the right position, it can be useful to hang them on the tree when they’re switched on. While starting from the top, try to make the lights visible and the wires as invisible as possible. This can be created with the light at the tip of each branch and the wire in a ‘U’ shape going as far back to the trunk as possible. When you’ve finished, use the squint test to check you have distributed them as evenly as possible, as moving them after the tree is dressed is near impossible. In terms of quantity, a 7ft tree should have around three sets of lights; just remember that if you want them to flash, make sure they all do it at the same time to avoid a headache-inducing effect.
The next step is the decorations. For the perfect arrangement, you could map them out on the floor first in the size and order you want. The general rule is that for a 4ft tree you’ll need 90 decorations. Also, larger the bauble, the lower it should feature, which works visually as well as practically – lower branches are thicker and stronger, so they’re able to hold more weight. Branches further up the tree tend to be more pliable so lighter decorations are best, plus because there’s less foliage at the top, there tends to be more space around them so you can see smaller ones more easily.
It’s also a good idea to put similar sized decorations as far apart as possible to avoid clusters, or from areas looking too top heavy. Plain baubles can be given a luxury treatment by removing their wire or thread and replacing with wide loops of satin ribbon. A top tip if your tree is on a hard surface is to put a blanket near the tree to prevent breakages if any precious baubles fall. Remember that every Christmas interior should have that signature tree!
A ‘crafternoon’ with family and friends (and a tipple or two), creating decorations with individuality and charm can be a fun festive event, as can a ceremonious switching on of the lights. This is the perfect time to toast the upcoming season, absent friends and gather loved ones around. As Dr Seuss would say, “Christmas will always be, as long as we stand heart to heart and hand in hand.”