A TREEmendous Christmas

There are Christmas trees and there are holiday trees. Then there are TREEmendous trees — and I’m not talking about size. You know the trees I mean, those fabulous firs that represent the heart and soul of the tree-trimming elf — who takes on the responsibility of keeping the tradition alive. This role may change within the family from time to time, but if you’ve ever been responsible for trimming the tree, you know you already have a style and a process for completing the task.
This article is not “tree-trimming 101″ although we will touch on the basics. This is more about the creative process to achieve a glorious tree that not only reflects by illuminating light but by reflecting your own personal style.

So, here’s what you know already:

  • Lights go on first; be sure to put them inside the branches too, not just on the edges of the branches.
  • Start hanging balls and small ornaments from the inside and work your way out.
  • If you’re using tinsel, it goes on last.
  • Don’t forget to water the tree if it’s real.
  • Never leave a real tree unattended if the lights are on.

Here’s what you might not know:

1. Step number one is to assess your ornaments. Just because you have a large collection doesn’t mean that you have to use them year in and year out. This year, I looked at my ornaments and decided that I wasn’t in the mood for color. I looked at my newly painted living room and pondered the idea of using a monochromatic color scheme when I honed in on the glass, the mirrors, and the silver lamps. Thus, my silver theme was hatched.

2. Nostalgic memories of holiday movies past would have Dad putting a star or angel on the top of the tree signifying that the tree was finished. Contrary to this, I believe that the tree-topper ornament should be put on first. There are two reasons for this. If the tree is fully trimmed and you need a ladder to put the topper on, you risk bumping the tree and knocking off and breaking expensive and cherished ornaments. Just as important, it sets the scale of decorating below and around the tree.

Here’s what the tree-topper means to me. It’s an opportunity to highlight my tree’s theme. If you use the same topper every year then this point is moot. If however, you are like me, and you like to change it up every couple of years, your topper should be the exclamation point of your overall theme. Here is a great opportunity to be creative and think outside the tree. How about a beautiful ribbon tied into a massive bow or a beautifully wrapped gift box with a hole in the bottom? This year I took my gold wreath angel and spray painted him silver. Now he sits atop my silver-themed tree as my guardian angel.

3. Let’s talk about skirts. Personally, I have never liked over-the-top skirts competing with my tree — the skirts with lots of glitter and multi-colored and multi-patterned Christmas scenes. I prefer to go to the fabric store and for less than $30 buy fabulous felt fabric, available in a variety of colors that are understated, elegant and do the job of covering. It takes about four yards to get sufficient coverage. As my tree theme is all silver this year, I chose a nice slate gray which complements the overall tree design.

For those of you who love something OTT, I have a great idea. Go to a thrift store and recycle an old prom dress or wedding dress. Simply cut the top off the skirt, make a long slit and wrap it around your tree. What a great way to get sparkles, sequins and taffeta for Christmas and not have to wear them.

4. Although some might disagree, garland for me is a no-no. In the same way that horizontal stripes are not flattering on most, myself included, garland wrapped and wrapped around the tree can be distracting, look sloppy and take away from the overall aesthetic.

5. Prioritize your ornaments and put your cherished and most fragile ornaments on the tree first, giving them the best real estate for maximizing visual interest. Attach them securely with flexible wire ornament hooks. These should be green to match the tree and be able to bend to secure.

6. An artificial tree can look just as natural as a fresh tree if you use natural elements such as Pinecones, Baby’s Breath and dried Hydrangeas.

7. Make sure to include some ornaments that move or have moveable parts and dangle from clear fishing line. This creates whimsy and children of all ages will love it, including me!

8. Bunch a few balls together, either two or three. Use a wire hook to hold them together. Use another hook to secure it to the tree. This provides great coverage with a big impact. The balls can be one size or varied sizes. Most drug, health and beauty stores have dedicated holiday departments where one can find inexpensive holiday ornaments in boxed sets that can match almost any color scheme. My tree has over 200 of this type of ornament, and because I mixed them with my own collection of silver ornaments, the coverage is powerful and your attention is drawn to the featured ornaments.

9. Encourage your family, especially children, to make ornaments that match your theme. I also love to include an ornament that indicates the year. This is a great way to make each and every year memorable. Also, if you have a newborn, baby socks and baby shoes make adorable ornaments. Write the name and date of birth on the bottom.

10. Take your most treasured and fragile ornaments off the tree first. While this may seem to be tree-trimming 101, it will save you lots of heartaches should you be digging for one and knock off another. Save that for the ornaments you don’t like.

So, as you can see, this is not a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. This is a passionate, creative and heartfelt accessory to the holiday festivities. For me, this year is all about illumination, sparkle, and the glitz. Since I would never be caught in a bedazzled holiday sweater, I’ll simply bedazzle a tree!

And there you have it.