6 tips your mom knows about decorating a Christmas Tree - A Life Unfolding
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6 tips your mom knows about decorating a Christmas Tree

Tips for decorating your tree

My favorite part of Christmas has always been the tree. After all these years, putting up the Christmas tree has become second nature to me. I’ve long worked out the kinks of light storage, extension cords, ornament placement, and garland. So much so that when my daughter called me last week in tears because she was ready to take a pair of scissors to her lights, I realized it’s a learned, not innate skill.

So I thought I would share my best step by step tips for decorating a Christmas tree.

Tip #1 Fluff up those branches

If you are using an artificial tree this is a no-brainer but even fresh trees can benefit from their branches being fluffed. You can also use this time to trim any of those branches that are erratic.



Christmas Tree in a handmade box

Christmas Tree in a handmade box


Tip # 2 All about the lights.

Always check your lights before hanging them on the tree! Don’t skip this step; it will bite you in the butt, I promise. I check that they work, and I check to see if they are warm or cool lights, which I then separate. I don’t mind mixing sizes of light stands, but I do want them to glow the same. Another great hack-Hang your lights vertically instead of around the tree. It saves uses less lights and iff one burns out during the season it’s much easier to replace!



Testing the Christmas Tree lights

Testing the Christmas Tree lights

When hanging the actual lights, work the lights into the tree into the trunk as you go, making sure to get all the major branches. This will give your tree that magical glow. I typically use 6-8 strands of lights on an eight-foot fresh tree.

Tip # 3 Ornaments

Whether you are decorating a theme tree or a classic hodgepodge the key here is to vary your sizes and then place them on the tree so they are balanced. I like to start by sorting my ornaments into piles. I start with my favorite special ornaments (or the stars of the show if you will) and then by color. I place the show stoppers first and then fill in around them with everything else. Another tip: Place ornaments inside the tree to create depth.




Fresh Peace themed Christmas Tree

Fresh Peace themed Christmas Tree

Tip # 4 Garland

Garland goes on after ornaments and add a lovely finishing touch. Garlands come in many forms so choose what you love. For years I made real popcorn and cranberries and my daughters loved that! I stopped the year we got a hubby who ate the popcorn and left the string. 🙂 Starting from the top assures nice evenly placed strands.



Fresh Tree with Red and White Pom Pom Garland

Fresh Tree with Red and White Pom Pom Garland

Tip # 5 Finish it off with a Tree Topper

Whatever you top you tree off with is a personal choice. My tip make sure the size balances with the tree. Think a ribbon bow. traditional angels, stars or something like ours (below) that is not so traditional but has a story behind it so we love her.



She is not a traditional angel but we love her.

She is not a traditional angel but we love her.

Tip # 6 Finish it off.

You can use anything to finish off your tree. I keep our main tree in a handmade box my husband made a few years ago. For our second tree, I like to wrap it in a fluffy throw or you can always finish off with a traditional tree skirt or even a tablecloth.



Scarf used as tree skirt for tabletop Christmas tree

While we are talking trees here are a few of my more memorable Christmas trees.

The time I just had to use fresh flowers….



Christmas tree using fresh cut flowers

Christmas tree using fresh cut flowers



White roses on Christmas Tree

White roses on Christmas Tree

And the going back to Christmas tree that started it all.



Flocked tree circa 1972 or so.

Flocked tree circa 1972 or so.

Those are the tips I’ve shared with my own grown daughters and I hope you find them helpful also. Happy Decorating!


A simple yet pretty DIY ornament

Simple simmering Potpurri-Smells Like Christmas

Simple and Neutral Christmas Home Tour

Until next time,


Share the ♡
  1. meegan says:

    You have so many amazing tips and tricks. It is nice to be reminded of what I can do to make my tree even more beautiful.
    And! The precious picture of you is absolutely darling.

  2. So many great tips, you sure go to a lot of effort for the perfect Christmas tree and you certainly achieved that goal. You Christmas tree and decor is all beautiful.

  3. These are great tips regardless of how long we"ve been decorating trees. I love your fist Christmas tree.

  4. Heike Yates says:

    I have become an expert 🙂 in fluffing up the branches as we have the same tree for 15 years. Your first Christmas tree looks like the one we had. Yeahhh.

  5. Michelle says:

    I so appreciate your tips, Libbie. We haven’t put a proper Christmas tree (real or artificial) for so many years I would be stumped if my daughter had asked me the same question. I’m pinning because I bet there are a whole bunch of people who would love to hear them too.

  6. Sara says:

    What a wonderful thing to document! I’m sure your daughter (and others) will refer back to it. I"m so in love with your fresh flower tree!!

  7. Kim says:

    Love, love those peace sign ornaments and garland! I need them!! Such a pretty tree and great tips.

  8. Lauren says:

    Hi Libbie,
    This was fun to read! The year before last, we switched over to an artificial tree for our empty nest, which has my husband doing happy dances because he no longer has to put the lights on the tree. And we decorate in "classic hodgepodge" (love that phrase!), although this year I did try to create a bit of a balance between hodgepodge and a color theme. Thinking I may need to add some garland to our decorating scheme next!

  9. Robin says:

    How wonderful!
    Your mother does know about decorating Christmas trees!

    Thank you for sharing!

  10. Marielle says:

    Great tips Libbie! Especially about checking the lights before putting them on the tree. 😉 It was fun to see all these trees too! Have a wonderful weekend.

  11. I’ll be featuring you!! Thanks so much for sharing with us at the to Grandma’s house we go link party – see you next week!

  12. Claire says:

    Beautiful tree. I love Christmas 🙂

  13. Jenn says:

    Great tips, we have a lighting debacle every year! Last year we had two different glows and it drove me crazy. This year, we had to send the teens out to buy lights because there weren’t enough. Next year will be better! Thank you for sharing with us at EMbracing Home and Family!

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