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How to Decorate a Christmas Tree Like a Professional

Posted by Parker Eakin on March 22, 2021

How to Decorate a Christmas Tree Like a Professional | Christmas World

One of the most magical things about the Christmas season is your Christmas tree. A beautifully-decorated tree lets your heart know that the holiday season has finally arrived.

To make sure that your Christmas tree is as lovely as it is nostalgic, here are tips for decorating the perfect Christmas tree.

How to Decorate a Christmas Tree Like the Pros

Gather the right equipment:


  • cotton gloves (protect from scratches)
  • heavy-duty scissors (for live tree and ribbon)
  • a sturdy ladder

You'll want to start by unpacking your artificial Christmas tree from it’s Christmas tree storage bag, or if you prefer a live tree then you’ll want to buy a real Christmas tree. If you prefer fake Christmas trees but are in need of a new one, you’ll want to shop for one made from premium materials. That way, you'll have a tree that can last for years to come, and is heavy-duty enough to support your holiday decorations.

Purchasing a high-quality artificial tree may seem expensive, but their durability allows them to last much longer so that you'll be able to use it year after year, making it a good investment in the long run.

Artificial Christmas tree styles range from traditional to trendy. Buying a traditional looking tree will help avoid the style appearing outdated within a few years.

Pre-lit trees are a great option because they are easier to set up.

Along with this, you'll put less wear and tear on a pre-lit tree since you won't have to string lights on it.

If you have the budget, go with a tree with advanced features to make it easier to set up and store.

You could always get a real tree from a tree farm, nursery, or home improvement store. They sell different types and varieties. You'll love the smell of a live tree in your home. But, they come with a few inconveniences such as watering them, trimming them, and cleaning up their needles.

Step 1: Give Your Christmas Tree a Fluff

How else can you decorate a Christmas tree like a professional?

After setting up your tree in the stand and making sure it's level (we can’t stress this enough), fluff up the branches and shape them.

decorate Christmas tree

Separate the branches so that they spread out and take up as much space as they can. Fill in any visible gaps by bending branches. Handling the branches takes time, but it will make your tree look awesome.

A well shaped tree looks appealing regardless of how few ornaments you put on it.

Step 2: Consider Decorating Your Tree with a Theme

Consider giving your tree a central look, one that pulls your decorations together.

Select your theme before choosing your decorations to set your holiday tone.

A theme will also make it easier for you to decorate your tree.

If you're struggling to choose a theme, then spend a little time on Pinterest or decorating sites, or start with our Christmas wreaths and garlands which give a large variety of theme options.

Step 3: Focus on the Lights Next

If you're using a pre-lit tree, then you won't have to fuss with the lights. But if you prefer a live tree or own an artificial tree that doesn't include lights, then you'll need to add your own Christmas tree lights.

gold Christmas bulbs

As a general rule, you’ll want to use 100 mini lights for each foot of your Christmas tree height. If you have a 6-foot-tall tree, then you'll want to string about 600 lights.

While it's tempting to wrap the lights around the tree like it's a maypole (also known as tornado-wrapping), it won't look as great. Instead section your tree into three triangular segments. Begin at the top and stretch to the bottom.

Make sure that all your light strands are functioning. Then, plug in the first strand and position the string's last bulb toward the top of the tree close to the trunk.

Zigzag the lights back and forth, moving down one triangle segment at a time. Take steps to avoid crossing the cord over itself.

At the end of the strand, plug in another, and continue zigzagging your lights until you reach the bottom of the tree. We recommend LED christmas lights, but If you use incandescent lights then don't connect more than 300 lights end to end or you may blow a fuse. Repeat this winding process with the other triangle sections.

Once you've completed each triangle, step back and allow your eyes to blur by squinting them. Search for dark sections within the tree. When they pop up, shift the lights as you need to, filling in the gaps.

After Christmas is over, remove the lights in reverse order to avoid tangling them.

Step 4: Collect Your Christmas Tree Decorations

Select decorations that fit your theme to give your tree a cohesive design.

decorated Christmas tree

Often, you can buy ornament sets that feature a variety of shapes, finishes, sizes, and designs. Blend them with traditional ornaments to enhance your theme. You can also include decorations such as flowers, pinecones, or ribbons to help complete a theme’s look.

Place the decorations on your Christmas tree with the lights off. Doing so will make decorating easier because you'll be able to spot gaps easier.

The reason for this is that the lights will reflect off your ornaments when you're putting them in place. The reflection makes it harder to spot the holes.

decorated christmas tree ideas

Professional decorators recommend grouping ornaments in different sizes to give your tree flair.

You can place the same type of decorations together or select ones that contrast. To design a Christmas tree that displays visual balance, buy ornaments in numbers of three, six, or 12. Then, place them on your tree using a "Z" pattern.

Hang oversized ornaments toward the center post of the tree to give your tree added depth. Then, place the small ornaments near the end of the branches.

If you have young children or pets, be sure to set delicate glass decorations toward the top of your tree. That way, you can keep them safe.

If you are hanging ornaments with special meaning or history, set them on your tree last to ensure that they get noticed.

How many ornaments should you hang for a professional-looking tree? The pros recommend using about 80 decorations for a tree that measures 7 ½ feet tall, or approximately 11 ornaments per vertical foot of tree.

Step 5: Add Ribbon and Snow Fluff

To decorate your Christmas tree and give it a professional look, add a pretty holiday ribbon. The addition will boost its visual appeal.

christmas tree decorated with snow

You can use a single style of ribbon, or several for added style. When using ribbon, be sure to get the kind that has wired edges. This type of ribbon is easier to shape into rolls or loops.

Creating designs with wired edge ribbon will help your decorations hold their shape.

If you want to add a ribbon that cascades down your tree, start at the top and tie the ribbon's end to your Christmas tree. Then, shift the ribbon so that it hangs in and out of the tree branches in gentle waves.

Hold the ribbon in place at different sections with floral wire. Cascading the ribbon adds movement, dimension, and depth to your tree.

Layering contrasting ribbons is another decorating option. Combine ribbons with different widths, colors, and patterns to add depth to your holiday décor.

For something different, form ribbon into rolls that mimic the look of a croissant. You can also shape the ribbon into a reverse roll to show off styles that feature decorative backing.

If you don’t mind a bit of mess, add a few bags of snow fluff. The substance will give your tree a professional look and bring the joy of snow into your home. Most local craft stores sell snow fluff during the holiday season.

Buy a bag and sprinkle a bit of it on each Christmas tree branch. Start sprinkling at the top and work your way to the bottom. Spread the snow from the back of each branch to the front.

To get that expert decorative look, spread less snow fluff along the top branches. Then increase the snow fluff thickness as you reach the bottom of the tree. This trick will make your tree look more natural.

Doing this will make your tree look like you just brought it in and there is still fresh snow on the branches.

Step 6: Take Advantage of Tree Picks

You can get tree sprays and picks and floral additions in various sizes and styles. These include decorated branches, berries, pinecones, and twigs.

Place them in your Christmas tree to give it a subtle style accent and a complete look.

Group different ones together with floral wire to enhance your tree's visual appeal.

Tree picks and floral sprays are the perfect options when you want to give your tree a punch of color. You can use them to enhance garland and wreaths as well.

Be sure to get picks that come with bendable stems to make it easier to shape them.

Step 7: Select the Right Topper for Your Professional Christmas Tree

A Christmas tree topper that catches the eye is the perfect way to finish the look of your tree.

star on top of christmas tree

Select one that works with your theme as well as the height and width of your tree. Don't forget to consider the height of your ceilings.

Instead of an official tree topper, you can also go with a different design. For instance, you could choose a colossal bow rather than an angel, or choose a snowman instead of a star. You can even make your own unique tree topper for a personal touch.

Step 8: Check for Balance

Make sure that the decorations on the tree are well-balanced and spread out evenly.

Position ornaments beginning at the top of the tree and make your way to its bottom. Doing this makes it easy to keep an eye on your design as you decorate your tree.

If you're using several colors, make sure that they complement each other. Also, review the balance between the ornaments, tree picks, and ribbon.

Use the ribbon and tree picks as background elements.

Step 9: Don't Forget the Tree Skirt

Like the topper, your tree needs a skirt to look finished. It will balance your tree's decorative design.

dog under christmas tree

A tree skirt will cover up tree stands as well as the tree trunk. Tree skirts also protect your floor from pine needles and any water that spills when you water a live tree.

Once you place a skirt around the base of your tree, it will draw attention to this section of the tree. Which will give everything a complete, harmonious appearance.

Tree skirts are also an excellent background for wrapped presents. You'll love how it looks in your holiday family photos.

Step 10: Final Tips

It's no fun to squeeze behind your tree to unplug the lights every time you leave the house or go to bed. Consider connecting your Christmas tree lights to remotes or timers.

Decorate with a Professional Eye

When you decorate your Christmas tree like a pro, you'll enhance the holiday spirit in your home.

Taking your time to make your home festive for the holidays is time well spent.

Parker Eakin
Parker Eakin


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