When it comes to decorating a Christmas tree, things can get a little tricky. Fortunately, I’m here to spread the cheer with a how-to guide just for you! 

Hello, hello! My favorite time of the year has arrived and that means many, many decorations. It’s not just about what I put in my home, but what’s put alllll overrrr pretty much every city in America. Christmas decor is in every mall, shopping center, grocery store, office, and any other place you can think of and I LOVE IT! It’s not really Christmas Day that gets me...it’s all of the days that lead up to it that are clothed with bows, lights, and holiday music. This is the most amazing season and if you feel the same, then we should be friends!

Us regular people don’t have much to do with what businesses do to decorate for the holidays, but we do have everything to do with how we can incorporate Christmas cheer into our own homes! The most iconic way to give your home some Yuletide spirit, other than outside lights, is by using amazing Christmas tree decorations. After looking all over the internet, it has come to my attention that some people out there have no idea where to start when it comes to decorating a Christmas tree. As always, I’m here to try and help out. Bottom line: decorating the tree should be FUN so keep that in mind!

Decorating a Christmas Tree Minimal Christmas Tree Homemade Ornaments Packages Tied up with String Wreath above the Mantel Happy Holidays

Via DesignRulz

A rough and short supply list is as follows:

  • ​Evergreen or artificial tree
  • Tree stand (if using a real tree)
  • Tree skirt
  • Lights
  • Ribbon
  • Ornaments
  • Tree topper

Decorating a Christmas Tree Garland Lights Ornaments Happy Holidays Decorate the Tree Yuletide Spirit


Step 1: Pick out the perfect tree

Before you start anything, research ideas for a Christmas tree. There are many options out there, but we’re going to simplify it a bit and quickly look at using a real tree versus an artificial one.

How to Decorate a Christmas Tree Real vs Artificial Tree Happy Holidays Christmas Infographic

Via Christmas Trees Worldwide

Real trees come with a natural Christmas scent that will fill your home, which is a big bonus for many people. One drawback of purchasing a real tree is that the pine needles shed a lot and it can be frustrating to constantly be vacuuming. Like any real plant, watering is a must if you want to maintain your tree. Some of the more popular Christmas tree types include Pine (Scotch, White, Virginia), Fir (Douglas, Balsam, Fraser, Noble), and Spruce (Colorado Blue, Norway, White). Live Christmas trees can be found at Christmas tree shops, stands, and farms. Typically, you can find tents filled with them on street corners or in parking lots.

How to Decorate A Christmas Tree Types of Evergreen Trees Scots Pine Nordmann Fir Fraser Fir Russian Spruces Happy Holidays

Via Visualistan

Pick a tree that is full and round. Sparse trees look underdeveloped, with gaps and empty spaces that make it difficult to decorate. Once you make your decision, you have to get it home. If you have a smaller car, tying the tree down on the roof is your best bet. It will be less messy than attempting to shove it in the backseat and will end up a lot prettier when you get it home. Of course, the best and easiest way to get the job done is to place the tree in the bed of a truck. No worrying about scratching the roof of your car or smashing your gorgeous tree's branches. Once it’s home, you’ll want to trim where necessary. That means getting rid of stray branches that don’t quite look right, and just touching the tree up to make it look perfect!

Decorating a Christmas Tree Wreath Above the Mantel White Stockings on Fireplace Traditional Christmas Decor

Via Yellow Bliss Road

Artificially speaking, if you prefer less mess, a longer shelf life, and not having to worry about untangling strings of lights, then artificial trees are the way to go. They come in all shapes and sizes and you don’t have to worry about watering them. Not to mention the fact that most of them come pre-lit. They are more expensive than a real tree (depending on size and time of year when you purchase), but it’s an investment that just might be worth it.

Decorating a Christmas Tree Gifts Presents Traditional Christmas Decor Happy Holidays

Via The Lettered Cottage

Now that you’ve decided whether you would prefer a real or artificial Christmas tree, measure your ceiling to know what size tree you should buy. Regardless of whether the tree is real or artificial, purchase a tree that is six inches to one foot below the top of your ceiling. Anything shorter will make your ceilings look lower than they should, but you also have to consider the height of a tree topper. As a reminder, pick a tree that is full and round so that it can be decorated accordingly. The less gaps and open spaces, the better your Christmas tree will look at the end of the decorating process.

If you choose a real tree, place the stump in a stand with water; and, if it’s artificial, set the tree up according to the directions provided. Next place a tree skirt of your choosing around the base of the stand. Step one complete!

Decorating a Christmas Tree Full Evergreen Tree Fireplace Mantel with Garland Decorate for the Holidays Happy Holidays

Via Decoist

Get your #Christmas cheer on and get to decorating! #HowToDeco #HomeDecor

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Step 2: String the lights

A lot of artificial trees come pre-lit, but adding extra lights is encouraged. Regardless of if your tree is pre-lit or not, there should be two sizes of lights. Strands with small bulbs and strands with larger bulbs. This makes a difference as to how your Christmas tree sparkles! Check out the difference below.

How To Decorate a Christmas Tree Two Sizes of Lights Big and Little Illuminate Trees Pre Lit Purchase Buy a Tree Evergreen Farm

Via Vintage Revivals

Check out the helpful diagram below that shows what direction the lights should be strung on the branches of the tree. Generally, you should start at the top of the Christmas tree and should end at the bottom. If you place them in sections, they’re easier to remove later and it looks great!

: How to Decorate a Christmas Tree Adding Lights Directions Instructions Pre Lit Artificial Trees Holiday Season Top to Bottom

Via Remodelaholic

As I said before, start at the top, pushing the strands with small bulbs partway into each layer of branches to hide the cord. Don’t push them too far into the tree though that will make them difficult to see which defeats the purpose! Space each strand of lights evenly. Next, take the strands with larger bulbs and place them into the tree just as you did the smaller bulbs. If you stand back 10-15 feet, you should see that there is not one part of the tree lit better than the rest.

Decorating a Christmas Tree Rustic Glam Christmas Tree Mantel Happy Holidays Seasons Greetings

Via Yellow Bliss Road

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Step 3: Add the ribbon

Ribbon is the best way to add not just color to a tree, but fullness. Holes should not be a word used to describe your Christmas tree! Full, full, full is what you want! Now for the fun part: Pick out two or three coordinating colors of ribbon that come in different widths and/or textures. When shopping for such at your local Hobby Lobby, Michaels, or other craft store, check the internet or store catalog for coupons. Wide ribbon tends to run a smidge more expensive. Another great way to save money is to save the ribbon and use it again next year. All you have to do is roll the bundles before you store them.

Decorating a Christmas Tree Ribbons Ornaments Gifts under the Tree Sleigh Loaded with Christmas Presents

Via Style Estate

Okay, let’s get back to it—as you let the ribbon fall from the spool, cut the strands into lengths of about four feet. Once you have all of your ribbon cut, place two ribbons (of different styles) on top of one another and use your fingers to pinch them in the center. Next take a third ribbon and tie it around the other two strands. Make sure it’s tight! Look below for a visual!

How To Decorate A Christmas Tree Ribbon Texture Three Ribbons Lights Trees Pre Lit Holidays Full Texture Gift Wrap Presents

Via A Pop of Pretty

Repeat this several times until you have enough bunches. After you have all of your bunches, take them and secure each one onto several branches throughout the tree, like so. It should be sporadic, but not so much so that it will look random and out of place.

How To Decorate A Christmas Tree Ribbon Texture Three Ribbons Lights Trees Pre Lit Holidays Full Texture Gift Wrap Presents

Via A Pop of Pretty

Once this is done, spread the ribbon ends out where they fall so that each strand is not touching.

How To Decorate A Christmas Tree Ribbon Texture Three Ribbons Lights Trees Pre Lit Holidays Full Texture Gift Wrap Presents

Via A Pop of Pretty

Now for the fun aesthetic part: tuck the ends into the tree to form a circle-like shape. Each strand should be tucked so that it’s not hanging by its lonesome. If you aren’t sure what it should look like, take a look at the picture below and you’ll get a better idea of what I mean.

Decorating a Christmas Tree Green and Red Ornaments Mantel with Stockings Happy Holidays Season Greetings


Step 4: Ornament time

Ornaments seem to be the most popular accessory when it comes to decorating a Christmas tree. They definitely add a little something extra to the decor process! Make sure when you select your ornaments that you purchase both small and large sizes. Coordinate the colors of the ornaments you buy with the colors of ribbon used. It doesn’t need to be completely matching, but it does need to look good with the rest of the components of the tree.

Here is an excellent example of texture in ribbons and ornaments. Both are important, and color is always welcome!

Decorating A Christmas Tree Ornaments Small and Large Fullness Ribbon Coordinate Texture Snowflakes Snow Snowman Holidays

Via Ella Claire

There are so many different kinds of ornaments out there. The first example is homemade, which means you can file it under easy Christmas tree decorations. You can do so much with clear glass ornaments. This is a fun favorite of mine and it’s super easy to make. All you have to do is fill each bulb with snowy glitter, a branch, and glue together your favorite holiday words. Super simple and cute!

How to Decorate A Christmas Tree Ornaments Branches Twigs Glass Clear Ornament Noel Xmas Jingle Glitter Sparkly Sparkles Hanging Decor Accents

Via Refunk My Junk

As I briefly mentioned, texture is what every tree needs. When you decorate a Christmas tree, not every ornament needs to be sleek and shiny. This is the perfect example!

How to Decorate a Christmas Tree Ornaments Fabric Texture White Ball Frills Frilly Branches

Via Dear Lillie

Often times, you’ll find great ornaments that come in sets. Those are great to use when creating a cohesive aesthetic to your tree. Also a great way to get more bang for your buck!

How to Decorate a Christmas Tree Ornaments Ornament Set Red Green Package Kit Gold Shiny Holidays Holiday Season

Via Crate & Barrel

Starting at the front of the tree, hang your favorite ornaments up first. Hang the large ones up and then fill in any holes with the smaller ones you have. Make sure you cover the bottom and back of the tree. This is especially important if your Christmas tree is placed against a window!

Aside from the lights, ribbons, and ornaments, give your tree a little more flair with the use of faux-snow branches or festive tree picks. You will simply stick them at the top and throughout the tree. Make sure they are evenly distributed.

How to Decorate a Christmas Tree Pick Sequins Red and Green Home Decor Decorations Festive Fun Topper Filler Floral

Via Pier 1

Step 5: Place the tree topper

One of the best parts of decorating a tree is what tops it off. That is why I said to leave 6-12 inches from the tip of the tree to the base of the ceiling. You can buy a tree topper that is already made or you can DIY one. The fun part about making one yourself is that it is custom-made to match the rest of the tree. The best way to do this is with ribbon.

Decorating a Christmas Tree Red and White Candy Cane Christmas Tree Santa Claus Holly Happy Holidays

Via August Joy Studios

Here’s a picture-tutorial that shows you how to create a bow that can serve as the foundation of your Christmas tree topper.

How to Decorate a Christmas Topper DIY Do It Yourself Step By Step Red and Green Festive Holidays Season Snow Winter

Via Home Sweet Ruby

You can also use more than one color of ribbon if you wish. If you’re just starting out, sticking with one is easier, however if you’re a quick learner all you have to do is lay 1-3 ribbons on top of each other before going along with the process shown in the picture above.

To finish off this bow topper, once secured, you will place tree picks (like the ones I showed above) into the top of the tree around the bow. You want the picks to be stuck into the tree in such a way that the frilly fun part of the pick is the part sticking out of the tree. Place them around the bow until spread evenly. You can also use faux berry twigs or even fasten the bow on with a string!

Decorating a Christmas Tree Merry Christmas White Bow Tree Topper White Gifts Owl Miniature Christmas Tree Happy Holidays

Via The TomKat Studio

At this point, you should have the most amazingly decorated Christmas tree! I hope this how-to has been helpful, even if you’re seasoned in Christmas tree decorating. This is the best time of the year and your home should reflect that! Put your festive decorating pants on and make a pretty Christmas tree you’re proud of. Thanks for reading y’all!

**Featured image via Itsy Bits and Pieces