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Decorating a Christmas Tree

Decorating the tree. It’s an easy enough task (once you get those $#@! lights on). Different families take different approaches, and it’s obvious in how they turn out. Families with small children tend to have a heavy concentration of ornaments on the front bottom half :) Others may have more neurotic tendencies with spacing and placement. Most husbands need some coaching when decorating the tree, and they usually catch on pretty quickly. But how many of us wait for him to leave the house and do a few switcheroos while no one is looking? Certain ornaments deserve special placement on the tree, while some ornaments become “anchors” for the back of the tree. Everyone has their own way of doing it, but here are a few easy guidelines for a beautiful Christmas tree that anyone can follow. Putting Lights on the Tree If you didn’t get your pre-lit Christmas tree (and free delivery) from The Garden Gates, you will unfortunately have to put the lights on yourself. Try not to freak out thinking about this - just do it. First select the type of lights you want to use, which will inspire the look of the tree. Better Homes & Gardens explains the different types of Christmas tree lights and which are right for you. Begin by making sure that all the strands of lights actually work. Plug each in individually and replace bulbs as necessary before buying an entire new strand. Once you have an arsenal of lights, start from the bottom, wrapping the trunk and working your way out to the major branches and back again. Whether you actually walk around the tree while doing this or going in a back and forth pattern doesn’t matter, as long as you get each section. Create a Base with Garland and Ribbon Garland, which creates a beautiful backdrop, needs to go on the tree before the ornaments. Start at the top with garland and loosely place it around the tree. Make sure to give each section enough room, especially as you work your way down to prevent the branches being pulled by garland that is too tight. Selecting garland is a great way to create a color scheme or a theme for your holiday decor. Ornaments! Now it’s time to start adding ornaments. Use the special ones that you have to have on the tree, especially if they are crucial to your theme or just have sentimental value. Try not to put them all in one section, and do not (I repeat: DO NOT) only decorate the front. That is a recipe for disaster and the tree falling over. Try to fill the tree as much as possible with the ornaments that are the prettiest or have the most meaning. Once you have used all the good ornaments and not-so great ones as anchors on the back, it’s time to add the filler ornaments. Popular filler ornament styles are simple glass balls, pinecones, apples, snowflakes and so on. These are just to fill in the gaps in the Christmas tree. Star on the Top Don’t fret if you don’t have the perfect, most beautiful star or angel for the top of the tree. There are some great alternatives out there, many of which can be homemade. Pinterest is an inspiring site for DIY creations. Items such as oversized ornaments, top hats, sparkly branches and even smaller wreaths can become beautiful and inspiring tree toppers. A giant bow with cascading ribbon makes an easy and festive tree topper as well. Treeskirt A treeskirt is necessary to hide the tree stand and whatever protectant layer you have put down over the floor. Many tree skirts are round and have a tie or button closure in the back. I have seen more and more square shaped tree skirts, which is nice and allows ample room for presents. There are some beautiful and inexpensive options out there also. Try a long portion of burlap fabric or another natural texture. Make sure to cut more than enough so that it can bunch in places for an effortless and pretty look. About.com has everything you need to know about how/when/where to use a Christmas tree skirt. In addition to decorating your Christmas tree and home for the holidays, it’s important to properly care for your Christmas tree to make sure it remains beautiful and safe for the season. Water: Keeping your tree properly watered is an absolute necessity. If it was freshly cut when you purchased it, it will most likely drink a lot of water in the first few days. Check the tree’s water supply a couple of times a day in case it needs to be refilled. Tree Preservative: Christmas tree preservative is a fairly new concept and is gaining popularity. It comes in paper forms or liquid and is added each time you water the tree. This will keep your Christmas tree fresh and retain its needles for the time that you have it. Tree preservative should not be consumed, and I advise against it if you think there is potential for a pet or small child to get a hold of it. Children and Pets: If you have curious children and pets, especially young ones, you may want to block off the room where the tree is if you can’t keep an eye on it all day. Christmas tree ornaments pose a choking hazard, and you don’t want broken ornaments either. It is wise to leave a few inches empty at the bottom of the tree if you have cats or small dogs who are amused by the hanging ornaments. Also, a tree can fall easily on a child or pet if the branches are being pulled or played with. Lighting: A well-lit Christmas tree is definitely something to show off, but it shouldn’t stay plugged in while no one is home or overnight. Christmas lights are a lot safer these days, but they still aren’t foolproof. It’s also a good idea to check any old strands you plan on using for any fraying, damage and if any have been recalled. Do not ever use candles on a tree to light it. Placement: Make sure that your Christmas tree stand lays flat on the floor and is in good condition. If you plan to put your Christmas tree in a high traffic area, push it a few feet out of the way so that it does not catch anyone as they walk by. A corner is a traditionally good spot for a Christmas tree, but anywhere is ok as long as it is safely secured. Larger trees need extra support, and most Christmas tree sellers will add an extra wide wooden base to the Christmas tree stand to ensure it stays upright. When in doubt, don’t use that iffy strand of lights or leave the tree unattended. The best rule of thumb for the Holidays is to listen to your instincts. We’ve gone over the fundamentals of Christmas trees. From decorating to safety, it’s important to cover all the bases to have a happy and healthy Holiday season. Don’t forget: Christmas Tree Decorating:
  1. Lighting - you don’t have to go traditional
  2. Garland and Ribbon - the best base for Holiday decor
  3. Ornaments - make sure to decorate ALL sides
  4. Tree Toppers - DIY is fun for the family
  5. Tree Skirts - make sure it’s large enough
Christmas Tree Safety:
  1. Water - trees need to stay hydrated too
  2. Tree Preservative - a wonderful invention
  3. Kids and Pets - your family’s safety is key to a happy Holiday
  4. Lighting - only plug in the lights when you are home and awake
  5. Placement - avoid high traffic areas or those that are questionable

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