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Christmas Tree Decorating Ideas

Updated on November 29, 2013

Tips, trends and great products to help you achieve stunning Christmas Tree decor!

Everybody loves a Christmas tree. The focal point of any room, a tree symbolises life, abundance and happiness. Decorating the tree is a soothing, seasonal ritual which, for many, signals the start of the holiday season. If you're starting from scratch and looking to purchase a new tree, this article contains plenty of tips to help you decide on a style of Christmas tree that's right for you. Once the tree dilemma is solved, the fun starts and you'll find lots of ideas and inspiration here to help you nail your Christmas tree decoration style.

The origins of the Christmas Tree

Although Evergreen trees have long been revered by various cultures as far back as Egyptian times, including the Babylonians and Romans, the modern Christmas tree can trace its origins back to Germany, where a decorated tree has been the centrepiece of the festive tradition as far back as the 15th century. It was Queen Victoria, with a German grandmother and her German husband, Albert, who introduced the idea to the British public during her reign in the 19th century, and from there the idea spread around the world to become the phenomenon that it is today.

From Beijing to Dubai, Christmas trees pop up in Shopping Malls, homes and public places the world over; and whether you're chomping at the bit the day after Thanksgiving, or prefer to wait until Christmas eve, in keeping with the '12 Days of Christmas' tradition, the joy associated with dressing the tree is a sentiment shared by millions.

Originally festooned with fruit, pastries, foliage, candy canes and popcorn strings, over time it became commonplace to add delicate strings of beads and baubles made of glass by glassblowing factories from the Lauscha region, in Eastern Germany. Although many factories closed over the years, a few continue to produce Christmas ornaments to this day and their exquisite creations have a delightfully nostalgic feel to them; perfect for a vintage Christmas celebration.

Lauscha Glass Ornaments -

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Blue Tit with real featherBalloon BaubleReflex Glass BaubleRoe Deer in RingIlluminated 18cm Glass Sphere
Blue Tit with real feather
Blue Tit with real feather
Balloon Bauble
Balloon Bauble
Reflex Glass Bauble
Reflex Glass Bauble
Roe Deer in Ring
Roe Deer in Ring
Illuminated 18cm Glass Sphere
Illuminated 18cm Glass Sphere
'Fancy Feather' Customized Star
'Fancy Feather' Customized Star

A Modern Tradition: Christmas Tree Decorations Today

While very beautiful and delicate, the glass bauble has largely been usurped by more robust plastic versions, many of which have a highly realistic, glass-like appearance and come in a dizzying array of styles, colors and textures. Trends come and go but a traditional scheme of red, green and gold remains the perennial favourite of the majority, with tinsel, bows, beads and fairy lights providing appropriate drama, texture and sparkle.

No tree would be complete without it's 'Topper', and while angels and stars remain the preferred choice, it's also common to have a little fun and add something with perhaps more of a personal flavor that's unique to your family. Last, but not least, is the tree skirt; designed to hide an ugly stand and any unsightly wires. Many are the divided on the aesthetic merits of a tree skirt but it certainly hides a multitude of sins and can add a really professional finish to your scheme.

Christmas Decor Shopping - Top seasonal products from Amazon

Swarovski 5004489 2013 Annual Edition Crystal Star Ornament, Clear
Swarovski 5004489 2013 Annual Edition Crystal Star Ornament, Clear

Gorgeous limited annual edition Swarovski crystal pendant ornament reflects the light beautifully.

Noma/Inliten 48150-88 Holiday Wonderland Clear Green Wire Christmas Mini Light Set, 300 Count
Noma/Inliten 48150-88 Holiday Wonderland Clear Green Wire Christmas Mini Light Set, 300 Count

Bestselling clear holiday lights to give just the right amount magical sparkle to any tree.

Lenox Holiday Nouveau Christmas Tree Skirt
Lenox Holiday Nouveau Christmas Tree Skirt

The #1 bestselling tree skirt on Amazon with delicate ribbon print on a white background.


Video: Decorating your Christmas tree with Jim Marvin - World famous Christmas Decorator shows how to decorate a tree

As Christmas Decorator to the White House for over 15 years now, Jim Marvin knows a thing or two about how to decorate a Christmas tree. Here he takes an audience through his step-by-step instructions on how to decorate a tree to to ensure the very best results every time.



Welcome Jim Marvin...

Interviewer: "Jim has the distinction of decorating the white house, how good does that get? Anybody wanna go with him this time, huh? I'm trying to sign up for this baby! And so, this will be your 14th year?"

Jim: "It'll be my 14th year; I'm going back up, the day after Thanksgiving."


"It's very important when you get a tree, whether you have one or you buy a new one, that you take it, and it's shaped properly. I like to start out with some ribbon trim, and, you know, there are so many beautiful ribbons on the market today. Take a piece of ribbon and just do a loop like this rather than make it a big bow, with two loops like this, I just take the single; two pieces would make a big bow, but I like to just take the simple loops, it does the same thing and you don't have to use as much ribbon. To really make it a little glamorous, and I always like to use some natural elements and glittery elements and, you know we try to do, sort of an imaginary garland, so it's easy to take these kind of materials and do an overlay and just kind of insert those in, so that it brings a basic tree out with some very pretty glamorous sprigs."


"I like to start with the larger things first, of course, and I used to like to use a floral wire; just take a small florist wire, and put it on. I don't always use the strings that come on the ornaments, but, in this case, I'm going to just use a simple wire, but I like to put the larger ornaments and a less expensive one: this is a shatter proof ball that's in the Briarwood collection this year and there's no seams on it - it looks like glass and it matches all the glass that we do in our line - so I'm just going to add a couple those for the background."

"By pushing them back to the background we can come back over it with some very decorative things, and I like to take that and just simply hang things over it. So we're doing a sort of a collection here, we're kind of putting all these things together in a cluster, and then once we get this design -this cluster -together, then we can just repeat that design around the tree, and it makes it easier to put on. And we come back in with all these different textures; we have a glittery looking ball, one that's horizontal, so you can see with the depth of the background there, it look's great, and by the time I get all this cluster together with all the different elements, you've got a whole collection of ornaments."


"Clip-ons are so simple to use and it's one of our biggest selling products. It has a clip, and it has a simple poinsettia shape and we like to do this on the outer edge, and they're so popular, and if you take that, it really does give a lot of bounce and a lot of color on the tip ends. Alright, I'm just going to continue on and do this one little collection, and then I'm going to repeat it. So if you look at this group right here, you can see that we have a cluster of a large, simple plain ball in the back and we then come out with something that hs a little different, shinier texture. Then you do your overlay decorating items over it, and then you come back with a little glitz on the end. So it gives you a sort of, a whole concept of clustering, and some depth and backgrounds, so that you can put any of your colored ornaments -as you'll want to do -you can do it that way, but you may want to start off your color theme, whatever it may be, with some very large ornaments to the background."

Deco Mesh
Deco Mesh

New Trends

Poly Mesh, otherwise known as decorator mesh has become phenomenally popular in recent years, thanks to the spectacular results that can be achieved with relatively little effort. Whether you opt for a few flourishes or go for a total ribbon effect, this is one modern addition to the Christmas tree decorating stable that is certain to stick around, regardless of what's trending.

Professional tree designers have really pushed the envelope in recent years, and the trend for really bold and bright color schemes is complimented by the inclusion of more and more non-traditional elements to create designs that resemble sculptural works of art. Many retailers have bought into this trend, and, while you don't have to go the whole hog, it's fun to incorporate a few non traditional elements in to your own scheme.

Get Crafty

Another great idea is to incorporate a few handmade elements; particularly if you have kids. Not only will this lend a uniquely personal touch to your scheme, but if you turn the making of these items into a fun, seasonal ritual, they will be forever associated with cherished memories.

Christmas Tree Facts

- According to National Christmas Tree Association 2011 figures, U.S. consumers spent an average of 34.87 U.S. dollars on real Christmas trees, with an average of 70.55 U.S. dollars on fake Christmas trees

- Christmas tree sales (real and fake) in the United States amounts to around 40 million with the industry employing over 100,000 people.

- 24% of Americans opt to purchase a real tree from a 'Choose and Cut' farm with the same amount opting to buy from a Chain Store like Walmart

How To Pick A Christmas Tree

Real or Artificial?

The first task of the season is to decide upon the kind of tree you will go with. Real or fake? is something of a dilemma because the arguments for and against both are equally as compelling. In the past, the main argument against artificial trees was that of aesthetics; they just weren't as beautiful as a real tree. However, with the kind of technological leaps made in the injection molded methods used today, the lifelike quality of today's trees can be quite staggering; it's often impossible to detect a fake tree from a real one, even close up. Ultimately, when weighing up the pros and cons, you have to make a decision based on a combination of cost, quality and what is both practical and ethically sound in your mind. No one can deny the fragrant loveliness of a real tree, but with many artificial styles offering such lifelike realism, often with features such as built-in lights, it's hard to deny they tick a lot of the right boxes.

Tree Comparison - Real Trees

Michelle Obama takes delivery of White House tree
Michelle Obama takes delivery of White House tree


- They look great

- They smell good

- 100% Natural


- Wasteful: discarded after a few short weeks of use

- Many are treated with pesticides which can seep into the water table when discarded

- The sap in some varieties can cause an allergic reaction

- Dropped needles can be a problem

Artificial Trees

Nancy and Ronald Reagan in front of White House tree
Nancy and Ronald Reagan in front of White House tree


- They look great

- Amazingly realistic: technology has come a long way

- Dizzying array of designs and options, many with attached lights

- Last for decades

- Ideal for allergy sufferers


- Environmentally unfriendly: PE and PVC production uses harmful chemicals

- Many are made in China where manufacturing controls may be less stringent

- No fragrance

- More expensive

Artificial Christmas Trees - Stunning trees that last for decades

National Tree 7.5 Foot Dunhill Fir Tree with 750 Clear Lights, Hinged (DUH-75LO)
National Tree 7.5 Foot Dunhill Fir Tree with 750 Clear Lights, Hinged (DUH-75LO)

An Amazon favourite - this 7 1/2' highly realistic flame resistant fir is pre strung with clear lights and comes with a 5 year warranty (2 years for lights).

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree with Blanket 24" Tall (Non-Musical)
Charlie Brown Christmas Tree with Blanket 24" Tall (Non-Musical)

Enjoy a nostalgic trip down memory lane with Charlie Brown's little tree and Linus' blankie. Lots of fun.

Vickerman B106245 Christmas Tree
Vickerman B106245 Christmas Tree

This gorgeous snow tipped artificial tree comes with delightful pine cones, berries and vines attached for a natural and classy look.

Balsam Fir Trees
Balsam Fir Trees

Natural Christmas Trees

Which variety is right for you?

Fir Trees – The Balsam Fir is a really popular choice in America and has dark green, flat needles with a slight silvery cast and pleasant fragrance. The Douglas Fir is another popular, and particularly fragrant, choice and has a fetching conical shape.

Pine Trees – The Scotch Pine is the most common Christmas tree, with long, spiky needles that stay for weeks and fairly open branches, making it ideal if you want plenty of ornaments. It’s also pretty robust and can withstand a fair amount of weight. A White Pine tree has ethereal, fluffy needles that are great for a soft, romantic effect but not ideal for lots of heavy ornaments.

Spruce Trees – Spruce trees such as the Norway Spruce are esteemed for their shape and hue, but do have a tendency to drop their needles once inside. The Blue Spruce has long, stiff needles that retain better than other varieties and is robust enough to support lots of heavy decorations.

Top Tree Tips!

Tip: Place a plastic tree bag (available at hardware stores) under the tree, on the floor and hide it with a tree skirt. The bag can simply be pulled up over the tree to allow for easy removal.

Tip: Always remember to check for a local tree recycling program or if there’s a local pick-up or drop-off facility for used Christmas Trees. Check here for information: (

Household Essentials 6032 MightyStor Artificial Christmas Tree Storage Bag with Handles | White with Green Trim
Household Essentials 6032 MightyStor Artificial Christmas Tree Storage Bag with Handles | White with Green Trim

#1 bestelling tree storage bag on Amazon and highly rated by buyers, can carry a tree up to 9ft tall.

CDG Disposable Christmas Tree Bags [252646]
CDG Disposable Christmas Tree Bags [252646]

A clever idea - place around base under the tree skirt, ready to pull up over tree for easy removal once the holiday season is over.


Christmas Tree Decor Schemes

What's your style?

There really are no rules when it comes to Christmas tree schemes and only your imagination can limit you. From big and bold extravaganzas, to more classical themes, anything goes. And if a traditional tree isn't your thing, well that's fine too because there are so many innovative ideas to please every taste and budget. Check out some of these trending Christmas tree decoration themes for ideas:

Bold and Bright - Break from tradition with non-trad pops of color

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Elegant and Ethereal - Go classy with one of these dreamy schemes

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Rich and Robust - Opulent, rich and heavy on drama, texture and color

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Scandinavian - Look to Europe with red, white and folksy elements

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Vintage - Retro vibes with a mid century feel

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Traditional - Classy and classic themes

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Tree Alternatives - Ring in the changes with something different

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What's Your Tree Style?

What style of tree do you prefer?

See results

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