How to Decorate a Small Christmas Tree: A Simple Guide

Updated July 19, 2021
Decorated small Christmas tree

It's important to know how to decorate a small Christmas tree to achieve the best look possible for your holiday enjoyment. When it comes to small Christmas trees, you aren't limited to using only tiny ornaments. Learn the basics regarding small Christmas tree decorations and create a holiday focal point small in stature but major in design.

Why Choose a Small Christmas Tree?

People generally forgo large Christmas trees when they are tight on space. Small trees have several advantages over larger, more cumbersome ones.

  • They can be easily moved around throughout the house.
  • By adding small, decorated trees to your home, you can choose to have more than one tree.
  • They are easy to decorate. No ladders are needed.
  • You can use several themes, one for each small tree in your house.
  • The containers that the tree stands in can be unique and creative.
  • Smaller trees don't break the bank.

Let There Be Light

Smiling woman holding miniature Christmas tree during holiday party with friends

When decorating a tree, big or small, you'll want to add some twinkle to the branches. Depending on the size of your tree, you may opt to use standard Christmas tree mini-lights or go with specially sized light strands designed for miniature trees. Christmas Central advises using a 100-light strand for every foot of Christmas tree height. Thus, a four-foot-tall Christmas tree will require four, 100-light strands. If you opt for a 400-light strand, then you'll only need to purchase a single strand.

Regardless of the tree size, the best way to add lights to a Christmas tree is to start at the top of the tree with the end of the light strand. However, if you have an electric topper, you'll need the electrical socket end at the top of the tree to connect the topper. This way, you can connect to the next strand below it and continue adding lights in sequence. Weave the lights into the tree by moving from the center of the tree and threading the strand to the tips of limbs. You'll need to bring the strand back toward the center underneath the limb and fan out to the next branch. This will ensure complete and consistent lighting of each branch and the tree.

If your tree is tiny, you might skip the traditional Christmas lights altogether and choose to use fairy lights, which are smaller and daintier. The color of the lights is a completely personal choice and often depends on the overall theme of the Christmas tree. If your theme is rustic, vintage, or neutral, white lighting is likely best. Fun and colorful trees can handle multi-colored strands of lights.

Don't Skimp on Ornaments

Woman and her hedgehog at Christmas

One common misconception with regard to decorating small Christmas trees, is that the ornaments have to be small and sparse.


To create depth, you'll want to use large ornaments as well as small ones. Consider putting bulbs in clusters. This gives a different effect than the traditional idea of popping ornaments all over the tree sporadically. Ornaments can be any color or design that you choose. Certain themes call for toned-down ornament colors, while others play up the bright and fun color factor.

Large trees can handle heavy decor hanging from the branches, but smaller trees likely can not. Stick with ornaments that don't weigh your boughs down. If you have special ornaments that won't work on the smaller tree, consider displaying them somewhere else in your home. Try working them into mantel garland arrangements or piling round ones up in a decorative bowl.

Get in the Garland Spirit

Small Christmas Tree With Red Garland

Dainty garland is a perfect accent for smaller trees. You can choose to make your own unique garland that fits your style, tree theme, and the smaller stature of your Christmas tree. Try using:

  • Good old popcorn and cranberries. A classic!
  • Wooden beads in either neutral tones or color. You can use beads of all the same size or beads of different sizes.
  • Felt and ribbon
  • Twine and tiny silver bells
  • Gumdrops and bubblegum balls
  • Wine corks
  • Dried fruit
  • Felt balls and pom poms

Wrap your garland around and throughout your tree, starting from the top of the tree and working your way down. If you have extra garland, use it along with evergreen boughs on shelves or mantels in your home.

Twists on Tree Stands

Spacious room interior with small Christmas tree

Larger trees often need the help of a tree stand to stay upright. Smaller trees can be housed in all sorts of fun containers that give the tree even more personality.

  • Pop your small tree in a galvanized bucket.
  • Use a wooden crate as a home for your tree.
  • Place your tree in a burlap sack and use it as a tree stand cover. This works especially well with a rustic or vintage-themed tree.
  • Place your small Christmas tree in a large ceramic pot.
  • Use a vintage Christmas tree stand for some retro charm.

You can also bunch up a small plaid blanket, use twisted burlap, or fashion a small tree skirt from materials found around the home. Even taking a small twin-sized white sheet and winding it around the tree's small stand will take your tree decor to another level. Sprinkle tinsel on the wrapped sheet or dot the sheet with silver strings of beads to give the illusion of sparkling snow.

With a few simple materials and a couple yards of your favorite fabric, you can easily create your own tree skirt that matches the theme and the size of your tiny Christmas tree.

Settle on a Theme

The great thing about small trees is that you can have one in every room of your home, and each tree can have its own theme! Smaller trees mean less money spent, so you can change up your theme every couple of years.

Stack of wrapped Christmas gifts next to a miniature Christmas tree

Nudes and Natural

Stick with twinkling white whites, natural wooden beaded garland, white bulbs, and small wooden ornaments. Place your tree in a white or beige ceramic pot.

Rustic and Woodsy

Work in plenty of burlap, a wooden crate tree stand, and plenty of pinecones and sprigs of berries for an au-naturel effect. A galvanized bucket or wooden crates are perfect items to pop your tree into.

Vintage Flair

Think buffalo check or plaid ribbon and a coordinating tree skirt. Red pickup truck ornaments and gift tag ornaments will help create a tree with yester-year flair.

Whimsy and Wonder

Small trees can be transformed into a candy wonderland fit for the home of Willy Wonka himself. You wouldn't want to take this on with a large tree. Imagine the amount of candy you would need! Use multicolored lights, brightly colored round ornaments, and strung garland made from large gumdrops and gumballs. You can also go full-on peppermint candy with red and white ribbon, white lights, red bulb ornaments, and a striped tree skirt.

Christmas By the Beach

A beach themed decorated Christmas tree

If you live seaside, use the surrounding environment to create a tiny tree for your home or the front porch. Use blues, yellows, and white decor to make an ocean-inspired holiday tree. String tiny shells from twine and use it as garland. Purchase fish and mermaid ornaments for your tree and line your tree skirt with seashells. Create a fun tree skirt out of a fishing net with shells glued into it, or use shimmery fabric that imitates the waves of the sea.

Fairies and Feathers

Fairies and birds are both tiny, so use them to guide your holiday tree theme. For a fairy and feather tree, use tiny fairy lights, pink, peach, and silver ornaments, and white bird feathers. Add glittery garland and fasten a fairy atop the tree as a finishing touch.

Decorating Fun for Small Christmas Trees

Guidelines for decorating a small Christmas tree can help you plan and save time and money. When it comes to direction and theme, the sky is the limit. Play around with ideas and items that you already have to fashion a small Christmas tree that can rival any 9-foot tree around!

How to Decorate a Small Christmas Tree: A Simple Guide