9 Simple Steps to Decorate a Christmas Tree Beautifully

Updated June 23, 2021
Mother and daughter decorating Christmas tree

Not everyone instinctively knows how to decorate a Christmas tree. Thankfully, there are a few essential steps to help make the process easier. Use these nine steps to take your Christmas tree decorating from beginner to professional in minutes.

How to Decorate a Christmas Tree Step-by-Step

You don't need to be a Christmas tree wizard to have a good-looking Christmas tree. Getting your decorations perfect all comes down to a little planning. For example, you don't want to put your ornaments on before your lights because you might end up with a tangled mess. Start with a great vintage Christmas tree stand. To keep your life and Christmas tree decorating easy, follow these steps.

Step 1: Fluff Your Tree

Whether you bought a real or fake tree, they get squished when bringing them home or pulling them out of the closest. Therefore, take some time to get your branches perfectly fluffed up. For a fake tree, this might mean going around and bending out the branches. On the other hand, a real tree might just need a little time to settle after unpacking it.

Step 2: Gather Your Decorations

When decorating your Christmas tree, it's a lot easier if everything is within arms' reach. You don't want to keep trucking your decorations back and forth, so bring everything into your Christmas space. Now is the time when you can sort through your decorations, choose your theme, or just get organized. This will make the rest of your Christmas decorating much less stressful.

Step 3: Choose Your Theme

A Christmas tree doesn't have to have a theme. And if you don't, then feel free to skip this step. However, if you'd like to give theming out your Christmas tree a try, then there are a lot of different Christmas tree themes out there.

Step 4: Hang Your Lights

Christmas lighting is important, so this is where you start. First, make sure the wire on your lights is the same color as your tree. For example, white wire for white trees, green for green trees, etc. This will make sure the wire hides in your tree. Then, starting at the bottom, you're going to wrap your light around your tree all the way to the top. Wrap them over all the major branches to make sure you get an even lighting scheme. You can fluff your branches up more as you go to get that full look.

All Christmas tree lights are not created equal. Well, they do all equally light up a tree, but they don't all look the same. Therefore, it's important to know a few popular types of lights you can find in traditional and LED.

  • Mini lights - These come in various sizes, types, and colors. They can also blink or be consistent.
  • Globe lights - These are round-like balls and provide a soft glow on the tree.
  • Bulb lights - Bigger lights that stand up on the branches and come in multiple colors.

And you don't have to stick to one type of light either. You could use white mini lights and put a strand of colored bulb lights to give it a little pizazz. However, remember to test all the lights before putting them around the tree.

Step 5: Gather Your Garland

Just like your lights, you want to put your garland around the tree before you start adding ornaments. Additionally, you want your garland to complement your lights and the overall theme of the tree. Therefore, if you have a lot of white lights on the tree, consider using colored garland. However, if you use colored lights, you might try some silver or gold garland to bring your lights to life.

Beaded garlands look best draped from branch to branch, while ribbon or foil garland is most attractive when draped loosely around the entire tree. Start hanging garland at the top of your tree, gradually increasing the amount of garland used as you work your way down. Wrap garland around the tree, not vertically.

Woman adding garland on Christmas tree

Step 6: Place Your Bows and Ribbons

Many tree decorating connoisseurs like to add a little Christmas flair with ribbons and bows. Now is the time to add them. Stand back from your tree and examine the layout. Add the bows and ribbons in strategic areas to help your lights stand out. You are going to loop the ribbon around the branch to help it stay in place.

Step 7: Choose and Place Your Ornaments

Ornaments are the key to making your Christmas tree stand out. Therefore, you want to choose all the ornaments you are going to use first. Then, it's time to think about placement. You don't want to put all your ornaments in the same spot or on the same branch; you want to scatter them evenly throughout your tree. Additionally, you want to think about the size of the ornament. For example, you might want to use some smaller ornaments to accent a large snowflake to even out the space.

Tip: One thing to keep in mind when setting up the Christmas tree is that it's not uncommon for a tree to look different from various angles. Take a step back to see how everything looks and is spaced. If adjustments are needed, try to adjust one or two ornaments at a time. Moving multiple ornaments at once can create new gaps.

Little girl holding a Christmas tree bauble

Step 8: Add Tinsel and Other Accents

Use a little tinsel to fill in any overtly blank spots on the tree. Tinsel can add a lot of sparkle to trees, and though it is not appropriate for all tree themes, it can be beautiful when added to certain trees. It is necessary to do this as one of the final steps in decorating. If the tinsel is done earlier, it will be knocked off when the ornaments are added.

Additionally, now is the time to add any other accents like tree picks. These come in an assortment of different styles and colors like berries, poinsettias, and pinecones. Tree picks work nicely to add that little extra flair to your holiday decorating.

Woman placing tinsel on Christmas tree

Step 9: Place the Tree Topper

Add the tree topper. There are many different types of toppers on the market. Some families like using the same one every year, while others like to purchase a new one to match their tree's theme. Stars and angels are traditional and are still popular.

Decorating Your Christmas Tree - No Problem!

Decorating a tree can create as many good memories as viewing it afterward, so remember to have fun with the process. With a little planning and careful attention to detail, almost anyone can create a tree that looks like a professional decorated it. So take pride in your tree and all the work you put into decorating it. Now that you know how to decorate your Christmas tree, it's time to get cracking.

9 Simple Steps to Decorate a Christmas Tree Beautifully