How to Have the Most Beautiful Tree on the Block

December 2, 2008 at 11:44 am 8 comments

Nichols' Christmas Tree '08

Nichols

Tree is done, dude.  I’m a little behind this year, because for the first time in I don’t know how long, I had to work the day after Thanksgiving, which is my annual Tree Day.  I had some friends over last night, and as usual, I had requests to be hired as their personal tree decorator.  🙂  Lacking the extra time for that, I thought I would just write an article on how to have the best tree on the block, and everyone can know  how to do it.  Really, it’s easy!

  1. Pick a color scheme involving no more than three colors.  Truly, it doesn’t matter what those colors are.  I’ve discovered that as long as you don’t exceed three, the tree will remain cohesive, even if those three colors are not ones you usually think would work together.  You will use these colors when choosing your skirt, garland, topper, filler, and base ornaments.  The only element that does not need to stick to the scheme are your collectible ornaments.  FYI, It is ok to use variations of your color, as long as you don’t get carried away.  If one of your colors is gold, it doesn’t all have to be the SAME gold. When deciding on your color scheme, look at your existing ornament collection – is there already a common theme there?  It will save you time and money if you don’t have to start from scratch.
  2. Put up the tree.  (Duh.)
  3. If you’re putting on a skirt, do this next.  I choose not to, since the cats love to lay under the tree and look up at the pretty lights (…and eat the branches… and  bat at my ornaments…).  Too much cat hair.
  4. Lights.  Buy two more strands of lights than you think you could possibly need – you’ll need them.  I have a 7′ tree, and it requires 5 strands plus one little 50-lighter to top it off.  When you string your lights, don’t just walk in a circle around the tree, or you’ll have something that looks uneven, superficial, and well, sad.  Get in there and wrap the strand in and out around each branch.   This is what really gives the tree depth, and a full, even volume of lights.  If you do this one thing well, it will make up for a myriad of other tree flaws.  Here is your priceless light-stringing tip:  Plug the lights in BEFORE you string them, so you can see what you’re doing!!  For a magazine-worthy finish, I highly recommend clear lights over colored.
  5. Garland.  I use a wired ribbon, but this could be tinsel, cranberries, or whatever.  Now you ARE going to walk in a circle around the tree, because you WANT this to sit on the surface, not get lost in the branches.  Just make sure to space it evenly, starting at the very bottom branches, and going all the way up to the top.  You don’t need a lot here – in fact, I’d say less is more.  I think my ribbon only goes around 3 times in the back and 4 in front.
  6. Topper.  “WHAT??? You want me to put on the topper before the tree is decorated?  That’s unnatural!”  You only need to do this next if your topper in any way cuts into the tree.  My topper is a giant bow, and the tails hang down the tree.  This will affect where the next three layers go, so you need it on there first.  This would also be a good idea if you’re using one of the angel type toppers, but probably not necessary if you’re using the traditional star that just goes literally on the highest branch.
  7. Filler.  Get MANY of something that matches.  There’s a lot of ways to do this, so let me just give some examples.  This year my “filler” is made of two types of large, translucent gold silk flowers with gold glitter edging – lilies and roses.  In the past I have used bunches of baby’s breath, bows, and oversized round ornaments.  You could use gingerbread cookies, or little wreaths, or bells, or… whatever.   Just make sure they all match.  Use these to fill in any large gaps in the branches, and to simultaneously lay a nice, full foundation.
  8. Base ornaments.  Base ornaments are sets of coordinating ornaments that demonstrate your color scheme.  Round glass ornaments are great for this, because they are so readily available in every color imaginable, but here is the easiest way to get huge bang with little thought:  In the ornament aisle, which is almost always separated by colors, stand in front of the section that has your color scheme.  Depending on the size of  your tree, grab at least five of each color for a three-color scheme.  After 7′, double that for every additional 2′, so if you have a 9′ tree you’d want 10 of each, 11′ tree 15 of each.  The shape of these ornaments doesn’t matter, just the color, so have fun!  For a cleaner, more classic look, buy your ornaments in multiples which keeps a cohesive view all the way around the tree.  For a  wilder tree, buy the ornaments in singles (although this is a bit harder to pull off successfully, takes more time, and is generally more expensive).  When you put your base ornaments on, leave open some of the prime real estate.  You’ll want it for the next step.
  9. Collectible ornaments.  Here’s where you pull out all the ornaments that always make your eyes well up a bit, thinking of christmases past.  Oh yes, you didn’t think I’d forgotten them, did you?  No, we’ve laid this entire foundation just to showcase them!  Snuggle them into those prime spots you left open in the last step.  Have some uglies?  Yeah, we all do.  (I have a bright red plastic one that has my name and the number 3 on it in green glitter, that yep, you guessed it, I made when I was three.  Can’t let that go, right?)  Hang these on the lower branches, to the back, or nestle them deeper in the tree where they’ll draw less attention to themselves.  Hey, they’re still THERE!

Stand back and admire your handiwork.  Congratulations, you’ve done a splendid job!

But wait!  What about the kids’ paper chains and oragami ornaments they colored with crayons?   Look, I am in no way against the joy and creativity and… exuberance of the season, but this article was about how to have the most beautiful tree on the block.  Here is the perfect solution, and one that will probably create one of the best holiday traditions of all:  Get the kids their own tree!  It can be smaller (kid-size!), around 5′ is perfect.  String it with colored lights, and let them go to town on it!  They will have an amazing time creating ornaments, stringing popcorn, and finding THEIR unique and wonderful solutions for how to have the best tree on the block!  Stand them side by side, put the kids’ tree in the family room and the showcase tree in the living room, or put their tree in their room!

I’m wondering – would anyone like me to do a video on this? Let me know!

P.S. I’ll put up a picture tonight – hard to get the effect during the day.

Wishing you many wonderful holiday memories this year!
Kristy Nichols
a.k.a. The Average Goddess

Claim your free copy of the book How To Be An Average Goddess, and receive a complimentary subscription to the Secrets of the Sisterhood ezine as my gift to you!

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Entry filed under: Decorating, Entertaining, Holidays. Tags: , , , .

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Amalthea  |  December 2, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    OR you could be like me and have an adorable 2′ painted metal tree from a craft fair with big bells on it and a star… and it just reminds me of Texas and ranches and whatnot. Then you don’t have to worry about any of this! 😉

    Still, I do agree there is an art to decorating a tree and everything goes better with a plan! Maybe I should send this to my mother….

    Reply
  • 2. vintageaddict  |  December 2, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Oh your blog on decorating a tree is great ~ I am with you every step of the way ~ ya gotta twist the lights around the branchs deep inside and again close to the tip ’cause that is what gives it that magical glow! Kudos to you for taking the time to put these great guidelines down for those who alwyas wondered how to decorate the perfect tree, just like those seen in Malls, etc. done by a professional!

    Reply
  • 3. averagegoddess  |  December 2, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    Amalthea – that tree sounds PERFECT for you! (Besides, where would you PUT a regular size one???!) In advance: Hi Mom!

    Reply
  • 4. averagegoddess  |  December 2, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    Vintageaddict – Thanks so much! It’s funny actually, how sometimes we can forget that not everyone is good at what WE’RE good at (thank goodness, b/c life would get boring really fast). My mom had actually suggested I write this blog back in November, but I really didn’t realize there was such a need until we had our get together last night. Here’s to significantly fewer questionable trees in the neighborhood! 😀

    Reply
  • 5. Cali  |  December 8, 2008 at 9:21 am

    Ummm,… you mentioned pesky cats. We put up our tree over a week ago and strung the lights and put on the angel. Still need to put ornaments on it, though. What’s stopping us? The cat. The little nut ball keeps trying to climb the tree and munch on the branches. This past Saturday we did put three (yes just three) shatterproof balls on in random places to (1) see if he’d notice (2) see how far up he could reach and (3) see if he’s play with the one we knew he could reach. Sunday morning I came downstairs and there he is, batting the one ornament around the floor. We’d really love to decorate our tree,… but don’t really want ornaments strewn across our floor where our dog will find them and chew them to pieces.

    So here’s my question: How do you keep your cats out of the tree??

    Reply
  • 6. averagegoddess  |  December 9, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    Cali – LOL! I can totally relate! I can’t keep the cats out of the tree, but I can help you keep the ornaments ON the tree. Get a spool of floral wire and gently wire the ornaments to the tree branches, instead of just using hooks – a couple of twists will do it. My cats (in their younger days) all gave up fairly quickly when they found there was nothing they could destroy. 😀 … These days they wouldn’t care if I hung live mice from the tree… too much bother. (Not that I would do that – I LOVE mice!)

    Reply
  • 7. Cali  |  December 22, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Just wanted to add that my DH picked up a bag of some cinnamon pine cones and I noticed that the cat had not gotten into the bag (usually Aslan investigates EVERYTHING, especially things in bags). So I took one out and held it up to Aslan’s nose and he pulled his head away with a look of disgust. I tried again and that time he got up and walked away. So I tied a bunch around the center branches of the tree and he’s stayed out of it ever since! It’s a wonderful aroma for the house and doesn’t detract from the tree at all. My DH commented recently, though, that Aslan has been checking out the branch tips and nibbling a little bit (but still staying out of the tree itself) so we bought some cinnamon sticks and are going to tie those around the outside of the bottom of the branches. A new Christmas tradition/tree decoration? Definitely! YEAAAA =) I got my tree back!

    Reply
  • 8. averagegoddess  |  December 27, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    Awesome Cali! I had heard that same thing about citrus peels, but no such luck with my feefees. They just swatted them out of the way and went about their business… or decided tree niblins are worth a little eyeball irritation… who can say with cats???

    Reply

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