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December 2, 2011 > Tips for a beautiful Christmas tree

Tips for a beautiful Christmas tree

I am truly a lucky person. Not only do I get to decorate my own tree for Christmas, but, as part of my design business, I also get to decorate many of my clients' Christmas trees. It is such fun to take a bare tree and turn it into something magical. In this column I'll share some decorating tips with you so your tree this year will be your prettiest yet.

1 While real Christmas trees smell heavenly (and the kind of tree my kids still insist on every year), I'm really coming to appreciate several features of artificial trees. As a decorator I particularly like that the branches can be bent and shaped to be where I want them to be. If you need to move a branch up or down an inch or two, or bend it to secure an ornament, an artificial tree allows you to do this. With a real tree, you'll have to be creative to fill in any bald spots-use cut pine branches, or more ornaments, or silk flowers and floral picks.

2 Another great feature of artificial trees is that they come pre-lit! Stringing the lights on the tree is my least favorite part, but having lots of lights really makes the tree come alive at night time. Start by tucking and weaving Christmas tree lights on the branches near the base of the tree. Once the inside is covered, then move to the outer edges of the branches. How many lights is enough? Rule of thumb is approximately 100 lights per foot for any tree above 4 feet tall. For example, for your 6-foot tree, plan on using six 100-light strands. For smaller trees, fewer lights are needed.

3 After the lights are on, then you can add garland or ribbon, or anything that wraps around the tree. Don't skimp on the garland-for that same 6-foot tree, you'll need about 80 or 90 feet of garland. I love beaded garland; it looks beautiful when it catches the light and it hangs beautifully on the branches. Wired ribbon is fabulous too. Try tying large bows and letting the ribbon "tails" cascade down the tree. Very pretty.

4 Place your largest and most special ornaments first. Think creatively for a moment - do you have a collection you can display on your tree? Tea cups? Teddy bears? Snowmen? China dolls? The possibilities are endless. Can you imagine a tree decorated with delicate teacups? How unique and beautiful! On a tree I helped decorate this week, we used the client's collection of Santa Claus dolls - they were large and colorful and really added a festive holiday touch. We placed those first, then filled in the rest of the tree with a variety of ornaments. Use wire to secure your items to the branches.

5 If you use clear glass ornaments, be sure and place them right next to the light bulbs so they really sparkle.

6 Floral picks and artificial flowers are a decorator's best friend. Tuck floral picks into the branches and use large-size artificial flowers poinsettias, or amaryllis, or hydrangeas to add color and texture.

7 Make it personal: Make sure your tree reflects you and your family. My favorite ornaments are the photos of my kids. Their cute little faces are tucked in right alongside the other ornaments, and they are the ones I enjoy looking at the most.

Happy Decorating!

Anna Jacoby of Anna Jacoby Interiors is a local interior designer. Send your design questions to her at Call or fax her at 510-490-0379 or visit

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