day seven: the tree
If you’re anything like me, your house has been decorated since before the Thanksgiving dishes were dry. Every year it’s a struggle to wait until after Turkey Day to decorate for my favorite holiday. But wait, I do. Christmas is too special to be ruined by decorating in August. But I digress. Anyway, I have a thing for Christmas decorations. So much so that I’ve gotten the tree-decorating almost down to a science. I even took a class on tree decorating once. Oh ya. I’m no expert and I won’t be designing any store widows (speaking of which, have y’all been to pottery barn recently?! Holy gorgeous overpriced woodland creatures, Batman!) but I do have a few
tips that help me. Don’t mind the ugly photos-I have yet to figure out how to take photos of a Christmas tree, but I figure you’ll get the idea. Also, our tree is suspiciously void of lights and ornaments at the bottom. We have a baby who likes to eat things.
Step one: pick a tree.
Make husband wrangle the biggest one in the lot (or if you’re fortunate enough to live in a place where trees actually grow, you can sweet talk yours into chopping one down). To keep the tree at maximum beautification (ya, ya words are hard) for the whole season, you’ll need to cut a notch in the tree and add a bit of sugar to the water.
Step two: lights.
This is where the magic happens. It’s important to put the lights all the way to the trunk of the tree so that your tree glows from the inside out. The best way I’ve found is to start at the tip of one branch and run your lights down the branch to the trunk, then back out to the tip of the next branch and so on and so forth. In and out of the tree as you go, rather than just running a strand of lights around the outside of it. It makes a huge difference. A general rule of thumb is to use about one strand of lights per foot of tree but I always add a couple extra to that. We have an 8 ft tree and I have 10 strands of lights on that sucker. And that’s only because I ran out of lights, not because I was finished….
Step three: basic ornaments
A few years ago, I bought one of those giant containers of assorted metallic plastic balls, thinking that they would last a year and I would eventually replace them with nicer ornaments. But now, they are some of my favorites and I’m keeping them around forever. They are perfect for making a blank canvas to highlight the special ornaments. There are some disco ball-looking ones and glitter ones and other things that I would never pick up individually but it makes a difference on the tree. These are the kind of ornaments to put on first-and don’t just put them on the edges of the branches. Put them in the tree, all the way down to the trunk in some places. You want variety. And those sparkly, shiny ornaments down by the lights add to the glowing-tree factor. Trust me on this one. Shiny plain ornaments go in the tree.
Step four: ribbon/ garland
Now it’s time for the trimmings. I switch mine up every year: last year it was burlap and this year it’s a velvet ribbon. Choose something that goes with your decor but won’t overwhelm it. My favorite way to use ribbon is to drape and tuck it into the tree in a more vertical direction. In case you haven’t caught the theme yet, variety of depth is important. Don’t just wrap it around the tree to let it sit on top of branches. Bad. And don’t be afraid to cover up some ornaments. That’s why you used the basic ones first-to add depth and catch light, not to showcase that snowflake that Great Aunt Betty made out of dental floss.
Step five: the pretty stuff
Now that your basic foundation is set, it’s time for the fun stuff! This is where you add those special ornaments and extra fluff that makes your tree yours. This year, I added a few of those overpriced woodland creatures (because I just couldn’t resist AND I had a coupon…) and a “Merry Christmas” banner that I made out of sparkly paper. Because I couldn’t justify buying that when it took me 5 minutes and $2. To make your own, but the sparkly, glitter paper at a craft store (Michael’s has a great selection), cut out your letters, and string ’em up! If you have trouble with letter-drawing, print out the letters to make a stencil for yourself and just trace them. Much easier.
Step six: the top
Final step? Getting Husband to stick the star on top. Depending on the tree, this is either a very simple task or a very head-scratching one. Last year we just tossed it up there and it stuck. This year, it involved wiring it to the tree and bending branches and an excessive amount of engineering for what I thought would be a simple task.
(Don’t forget to water it every day)
I’m not a huge sentimental person so I never know what to do with all of those “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments and stuff. It doesn’t fit with our tree, but it seems like a waste to not put them somewhere. So this year, Husband and I are starting a new tradition: baby tree! We have our big, pretty tree with the presents under it but then we bought a little one for the ‘Saurus and every year we can add the sentimental stuff to it and he can decorate it however he wants. Dilemma solved. This year, I helped him out with the decorations since he was mostly interested in destroying, not decorating, so I added some of his favorite things: a string of cheerios, a puppy (whom he ripped the ears off of and I had to re-sew back), his hand-print, and a paper star. It works. Next year, I’m sure he’ll have several new creations to adorn his tree and I can’t wait to see how it grows through the years.