I thought I knew everything I needed to know about decorating my Christmas trees. In fact, I would have considered myself somewhat of an expert. I’m not a professional Christmas tree designer or anything, but every year I pretend to be. This year I took class at my favorite designer Christmas store and I certainly learned a lot. So, this year I tried to think like a designer when I decorated my Christmas trees.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you the basics of decorating a tree. Everyone knows you have to set it up and fluff all the branches, right? Okay, then let’s talk about all the things a designer would talk about.
Designer Tip #1: Always Add Lights
That’s right, add lights. I don’t care if your tree already has them, add your own. Last year I added my own lights to my trees because I couldn’t get my pre-lit lights to work. You can check out my post from then to see what type of lights I used and how many I used. When Your Pre-Lit Christmas Tree Lights Don’t Work This really does add so much to your tree. Even with pre-lit trees there are spots that just aren’t bright enough and if you are about to load it down with ornaments, extra lights just help.
Designer Tip #2: Start At The Top
Once you are fluffed and lit, you’ll want to start at the top of the tree. If you are going to do a big “Mardi Gra” style topper where you have lots of things coming out of the top, you’ll probably end up using the top section plus part of the next section of the tree.
First, add your ribbon to the top of the tree. This is one of the big things I learned from the class. Instead of just making a bow and putting it on the top of the tree, you make several and wire them around the top of the tree. For example, I have a 9 foot slim tree in the family room. I made three bows with tails and wired them around the top of the tree. In the front of the house I have a 10 foot full tree and I made four bows and wired them around the top section of the tree. Check out this photo of the tree in the front of the house.
By using multiple bows all the way around the top of the tree, you ensure that the entire top of the tree is decorated. As you can see, I do not have a “Mardi Gras” style topper on this tree. I just didn’t have the floral to pull it off, so I am using my bows and a simple antler pick.
To make the bows you simply start with a tail, make a loop, twist your ribbon and make another loop and then repeat until you are done. When you get it how you want it you just wrap a piece of floral wire around the center and twist it to hold the bow in place. The wire that is left is what you use to attach the bow to the trunk of the tree. Here is what a few of my bows looked like before I attached them.
Once you have secured your ribbon, you can add your picks to get that big topper. You’ll just stick them in from the top going downwards. You can make them come out of the top of the tree and around the sides of the top until you get the look you are wanting. I did more of this on my red tree
Another thing about the top of your tree…whatever you use at the top of the tree, you should also use in the body of the tree to give the tree a more cohesive look. On both trees I used the ribbon throughout the entire the tree. On the white tree, I used antlers throughout the entire tree; and, finally, on the red tree I have used the ribbon, gold feathers and red berries throughout the entire tree.
Here are two toppers at the store I took the class from and boy are they toppers. I love them, but I’ll probably never be able to do mine quite the same. Yes, if you look closely, there is ribbon in there.
Designer Tip #3: Add Focal Points
Have you ever used focal points in your tree? I have never used them, but I thought I would try to use some this year since it was mentioned in the class. A focal point is anything large that you might put in your tree. It’s not an ornament, it’s usually a bit more creative. You can certainly find focal points to use at the store, maybe swans or lanterns or elves or santas or anything you can think of. I had four white deer that I previously used on my mantel or side tables.
This year, I wanted to see if I could put them in my tree. So, that’s what I did.
I have three deer going around the tree starting at the bottom left and moving upwards to the right. I also have one sitting at the top of the tree. I wish they were a little larger, but they still add some interest to the tree that it otherwise wouldn’t have. I don’t think every tree needs focal points. In fact, I decided against it on my red tree. I briefly considered putting my Santas in the tree, but decided I would keep them on the mantel instead.
These deer are pretty heavy, so how did I get them to stay in my tree? I used floral wire. Apparently, you can put anything you want in a tree with a little wire. You can see that I put wire around their necks and bodies. I then twisted the wire on the back side of the deer and then attached it to nearby branches. If it hadn’t been raining, I could have spray painted my wire white so that it wouldn’t be as noticeable. Maybe next year I’ll do that.
Here’s a look at the different types of wire I used in my trees this year. Not all wire is created equal. On these deer, I needed quite a bit of long wire, so I used the silver paddle wire. For the bows in the next step, I really preferred the thicker pre-cut wire because you can stick it through the tree and find it on the other side easier.
Designer Tip #4: Use Bows
If you have bows, attach them to the branches with wire. Make sure you space them out properly and use enough to get good coverage on your tree. If you have a 12 foot tree, you’d probably want 15 bows. You can scale it down from there for a shorter tree. This is my first year to use bows. Last year I used a cascading ribbon technique that I have linked below. This year, since I was pretending to be a designer, I tied actual bows. I think they add a lot of depth to the tree that wasn’t there before.
Designer Tip #5: Make Picks
To make a pick for your designer Christmas tree, you’ll pick out several pieces of floral and wire them together. This will probably also include a piece of floral that you have used in the top of the tree.
Here is a tree pick I made for the white tree. It includes a piece of icy pine with a pine cone with a snowy eucalyptus sprig and an antler.
I didn’t have a lot of this, so I also combined some picks with bows to make more of an impact.
Designer Tip #6: Add Depth With Ornaments
Now that you have everything wired in, you can start filling in your holes with ornaments. Start with the largest ornaments first. Place some in the tree and some on the tree, moving in and out of the branches. Place all of one ornament and then do a different ornament. For example, I placed all of the really large white ornaments first and then I did all of the birch balls. You want to add texture and depth with your ornaments. I always feel like I could add more depth if I had more ornaments.
Big Designer Tips
Here are the big things to keep in mind if you are going to think like a designer when you are decorating your Christmas trees this year.
- Always decorate the back of your tree including the back of the top. People can see the back of the tree, so you better decorate it.
- You can add anything you want to a tree with wire. Just wire things to the branches or to the trunk. This will open up a world of possibilities. So, start thinking about what you could add to your tree this year that you have never added before.
- Make sure your tree is cohesive. If you use something at the top, continue it throughout the tree. You want your tree to flow.
- Add texture and depth to your tree with your ornaments.
My Tip: Find Designer Inspiration
So, like I said, I’m not a designer. I just pretend to be one. So, when I want to do something new or different, it helps me to find some inspiration. I always like to go to the store where I took the class and look at all the beautifully designed trees. Of course, I also peruse Pinterest. I look for color schemes and ornaments and whatever I can find that inspires me.
Here is my inspiration for my white tree in the front of the house. I certainly didn’t get the topper done, but it was my first year to do all white. So, it will take me a little bit to build up my inventory. Also, I’ll probably never have this much stuff.
Have fun decorating! Christmas is the best holiday, so decorate like you mean it! Pin this post below and check back for some DIYs I did on these trees and check out some of my other Christmas posts below.