The center of attention and activity, the Christmas tree embodies the unique combination of nostalgia, good will and hope associated with the holidays. Many of the same ideas that apply to decorating your home are also important to keep in mind for a beautiful tree that expresses your style while fostering holiday spirit for everyone who sees it.
Let there be light
Let your tree truly shine by getting this up-front detail right. The lights are the first thing that should go on your tree – then the garland and finally the ornaments. While there is some debate whether it’s better to start from the top or the bottom of the tree, the most important factor is to make sure you add enough lights to make the tree—and ultimately your ornaments—sparkle. According to Better Homes & Gardens’ website, a general rule of thumb is 100 lights for every foot and a half tree. And depending on the fullness of your tree, double or even triple that amount might be appropriate. When hanging the lights, it’s a good idea to step away and look back at the tree from time to time to make sure they are spaced evenly and that the tree is glowing. Gently push light strands into the branches a bit so the lights can do their job without becoming the center of attention. With the advent of energy-efficient LED lighting, the variety of colors, bulb shapes and sizes has expanded exponentially. Avoid flashing and color changing lights, and stick to a color, shape and size that works with your overall design theme. For example, updated versions of the C7 bulbs many of us grew up with are now readily available to provide a nostalgic twist. Smaller, white or off-white lights are always a safe choice, especially if you want to vary your theme from year to year.
Create a theme
Creating a theme does not mean all your ornaments must match. Just like decorating a room, your tree will look its best with a deliberate effort to limit items to those that complement one another. If there are traditional “must haves” on the tree, structure your theme around those favorites. And if you have too many favorites to narrow down to a cohesive theme, consider varying your theme from year to year. And keep in mind that your tree will truly look its best if your color scheme and design style are consistent with the area where the tree is located.
Your theme can be a unifying color scheme, a design style or simply highlighting a collection of ornaments—whether angels, snowflakes, animals or even sports-themed items. For a traditional theme, focus on simple ornaments, understated garlands and classic reds and greens. Using color combinations like violet and bronze or ice blue and silver work well for a more contemporary aesthetic. For maximum impact, consider limiting your palette to white and silver decorations, shades of red or some another unified combination. However, if a minimalist approach is definitely not your style, you can also use a single color—silver or gold are good options – for base ornaments and garlands to serve as a backdrop that helps tie together a mix of colors and unique ornaments.
Just like when decorating a room, it’s the final touches that can make the difference between mediocre and magical. The first step in creating the “wow” factor is making sure you have enough ornaments. A variety of textures, shapes and scales is also important. Don’t be afraid to mix in some larger items, particularly for basic “filler” ornaments. Not only will these larger ornaments add interest and depth, they can also help reinforce your theme. Also avoid the temptation to hang all ornaments on the tips of the branches. Be sure to place some closer to the trunk to once again add depth and interest. Finally, no matter what your theme is, be sure to include some unique items that have special meaning to you and express your personality. Mix these distinctive ornaments between your thematic elements for a beautiful result that is unique to your holiday celebration.
Derek Perini is a senior designer who has been with RLPS Interiors for 18 years. Take a look at our Facebook page in upcoming weeks to see sample photos of the holiday décor by our interior design group on display at our offices and at several local healthcare facilities.