Stress-Busting Tricks for Trimming and Decorating Your Christmas Tree

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Tree tipped over? Lights hopelessly snarled? Help!

When it's time to deck out the tree, a little planning goes a long way. From the top of the tree to the bottom, using time-tested, stress-busting tricks can take the headache out of trimming the tree.

Many people look forward to decorating the tree ... that is until they encounter common problems. Just ask any male friend what he thinks of snarled lights and you will see why he's run out and bought a tree with the lights already on it!

If you have an old-style tree and you prefer to trim it each year, you can do so sans the hassle with a little know-how.

I attended a Christmas dinner where the speaker related that the year the family had the largest tree ever, which they had decorated with special vintage ornaments--family heirlooms-- the family cat had jumped on the towering tree and the whole thing tipped over, ornaments crashing to pieces!

Ever Had Your Tree Tip Over?

Securing Your Tree--before starting out, place your tree in a tree holder and ensure that the screws are turned tightly to avoid the tree tipping over. This may seem obvious but many householders have learned to their chagrin that failing to tighten screws can result in disaster. A tree that has innocently behaved itself, once decorated and weighted down, can suddenly give way and tip over, sliding it's way free of its tree holder.

This is not that uncommon and when you think about it, it makes sense: a small holder bearing the weight of a much larger and wider tree.

Location, Location, Location--your tree should be situated in an out-of-the-way corner or in a window. Why? There are a couple of reasons for this. As mentioned, because of their shape and size, Christmas trees can be "tippy."

If "curious cat" decides an ornament has caught his fancy and leaps on the tree, one that is set near to a wall may be protected, depending on where kitty lands. Far better to have a wall check a tree's fall and avoid a subsequent crash.

Additionally, if someone backs into the tree, say when you are entertaining and the room is crowded, a tree set near to a wall may escaped unharmed.

Having someone turn the tree is the easiest way to string lights on branches.

Avoiding Snarled Lights

  • Test Lights First, Prior to Stringing on Tree--I remember the first time I trimmed my tree. I plugged in my lights eager to enjoy their beauty, then saw that one string was not working! Trying to unwind four connected lights strands was not a scenario I cared to ever repeat!
  • Leave Enough Cord--ever had this happen? You congratulate yourself on stringing the lights all the way around the tree and then when you go to plug them in, discover the cord isn't long enough!
  • Fast and Easy Method to String Lights With No Tangles--One of the best methods to avoid snarled lights is to have one person hold the lights while someone else slowly swivels the tree. Most times people walk around the tree and string the lights this way but it is far easier for one person to hold the lights while someone else simply turns the tree.This works especially well if you have your tree on a floor instead of a carpet. (If you plan on doing this on a floor, place a small cloth underneath your tree stand before you screw stand screws to tree.) As the tree turns the lights can be easily applied to the branches, working upwards. It is best to start at the bottom of the tree, placing the wires partially inwards so they are hidden by the branches. Leftover wire can be wound around the tree topper or it can be worked downwards again until the end of the light strand is reached.

Laying out the tree skirt before trimming the tree with ornaments means these aren't knocked off later.

Tree Skirt Tip

Place the tree skirt around the base of the tree, then roll it up towards the center so that it isn't stepped on when decorating the tree. (The tree skirt can be later unfurled, when the tree is fully decorated, and presents placed on it.) Laying out the tree skirt before trimming the tree with ornaments means these aren't knocked off later.


Avoiding Broken Ornaments

  • Hang Your Ornaments to Avoid Breakage--hang larger/heavier ornaments inwards on the branches, which reduces chances of their being knocked off. Heavier ornaments have more support when placed closer to center of the tree. Their weight will not cause branches to dip, resulting in ornaments sliding off and breaking.
  • A good rule of thumb for Christmas tree decorating is to place smaller ornaments towards the outside part of the branches because these will be easier to see.
  • Bend Up Branch Tips--If an artificial tree is used, a neat trick involves bending the branch tips upwards at the ends so that ornaments are protected.

Applying Garlands

A Two-Person Job--Applying garlands is much easier with the aid of another person. One person holds one end and another person walks around the front of the tree draping the garlands over the branches or passing the garlands around to the other person. Garlands can be placed prior or after hanging of ornaments, depending on preference.

Tree Topper Tip

Many people prefer to place the tree topper last, as the crowing glory to finish their Christmas tree; however this is a good way to knock off ornaments because you brush up against the tree.

It is much easier and safer to position the tree topper before ornaments have been hung on the branches.

The Best Decorated Tree Tip, if You Have Room ...

If space permits, carefully drag the decorated tree into a room or porch close by. You can store your fully trimmed tree for use the following year. Simply cover with a tree protector or large sheet to keep dust off branches and to protect ornaments and lights.

When Christmas comes around again, the tree can be uncovered and carefully walked or slid into place. It is already decorated and can be positioned where desired.

If space permits and you like this idea, ensure that you use a cloth under bottom of tree stand to avoid scratching floors.

Trimming the Tree and Enjoyable Undertaking

Using the stress-busing tips and tricks above can go a long way in making tree trimming the experience it should be.

Why not make some hot chocolate or spiced apple cider ahead of time, put on some Christmas music, relax and truly enjoy yourself?

With a little know-how and planning, trimming the tree can be an enjoyable undertaking that commemorates the festive holiday season.

© 2013 Athlyn Green

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