So, now that Christmas is almost here, it is time to engage in one of the most heartfelt and age old tradition of the holidays. The Christmas tree, wonderful shining beacons that stand tall and signal the start of the final month of the year, its decorations shine their way through houses and neighbourhoods, giving happiness to everyone whether through whatever people put at the top, whatever decorations are set up around the tree or just the wonderful, mysterious presents that are placed the bottom.

But alas, like many things in life (many, many things in life) Christmas trees are a lot better to see than they are to make. The process that goes into decorating a Christmas tree properly is a tiring one, that can take weeks (if you, you know, have to go to work and stuff like that) and if you mess up even a little bit you might end up with something that’s…not quite what you desired.

So, since making a Christmas tree is such a grueling and exhausting procedure, we have decided to give you a (sort of) step by step guide on what you can do to make a (presentable) Christmas tree this Christmas. Keep in mind that this guide is set to work as a basis for decorating a Christmas tree, you can experiment on your own as much as you like if you’d prefer.

Now first we need to gather everything that we’ll be using to decorate our tree, the pieces of the puzzle if you will.

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The Tree

The tree in this scenario is, of course, the main ingredient (we’re not actually making food; we just needed an analogy here). When it comes to picking a Christmas tree you really can’t go wrong, it mostly comes down on what you pick and doing the best with what you’ve got.

There are many different types of trees that are perfect for decorating during Christmas, such as pine tree, fir trees and spruce trees. Of course if you live in an apartment that might have rules set up against using natural trees (they are harder to manage, especially if all you’re doing is setting them up in your house) you can also go with a fake tree. These trees also have the advantage of not making you worry over allergies that you or any family members might have to the tree and can be reused year after year.

Another thing to keep in mind when you decide what tree to go with is to make sure that you have everything set up. If you want to go with a real tree then you’ll need not just a place for it to stand, but also fill that stand with water (you do have to keep that tree alive) and a skirt for any needles or twigs that might fall out.

You should also make sure that the tree’s branches and twigs are spaced out even, whether it’s a real tree or not, it can get hard to really get that vibrant Christmas look down if the branches seem like they’re too close together, plus it also makes it harder to put ornaments on.

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The Lights

The lights are another, very important factor when it comes to creating a Christmas tree. Once you’ve chosen your tree you then have to choose a theme for it, you can’t just add in any decorations you want after all. If you need some ideas for themes you can always go with simple colours, such as red and green that contrast with each other. You can also utilise metallic colours such as gold or silver, since they go a great way in supporting the simpler ones.

The lights are the first step towards accomplishing that theme, so make sure to choose lights with colours that fit your theme perfectly; from simple white lights to Christmas coloured (red and green) lights, they all help with following on the theme.

But it isn’t just the colour of the lights you have to worry about. Lights come with different wire patterns so make sure to go with one that’ll make it easier to set them up on your tree. You can wrap the main wire around the circumference of the tree and wrap the individual strands of lights around the nearest branch and you might want to leave some stands hanging.

Lastly, it’s recommended to not go with flashing lights or lights that play to some kind of song. This is due to the fact that Christmas lights can burn very quickly, so unless you have a lot of replacements you might end up having to make a couple of trips to the store to compensate for some lights.

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The Ornaments

Now, the ornaments are both a little bit easier, but also harder to pick out. Much like the lights, they should adhere to the theme that you picked (in fact, they kind of help in solidifying it). There are a variety of ornaments that you can pick out from; there are even sets and multi-sets of ornaments that come with different Christmas lights, ribbons, garlands and other decorations. You can even use actual food like popcorn garlands, acorns or Christmas candy (in a lot of place around the world, real candy canes are used as decorations).

Regardless, whether you go with a specific set of ornaments or try to pick and match what you’ll use in your tree, you still have to make sure to go with something that will fit with the specific them you’re trying to carry out.

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Let’s Decorate this Thing!

Okay, so you have everything you need now. You have a tree that will act as your base, a theme that you want to follow, Christmas lights that will fit that theme and ornaments that will be sure to make everyone jealous (assuming of course), now it’s finally time to get down to decorating.

Except, that there’s actually different ways of decorating a tree, the decoration of the tree is essentially taken by layers. It’s recommended that you start with the lights first since this can get in the way of everything else if they’re added last, plus if you wrap them around the tree first you can hide the wires so that only the lights are visible to guests, making the tree stand out without them ruining the whole experience.

Now, what tree you chose (natural or fake) also affects the ways in which you can go about setting up the lights. For natural trees it will be best for you to start from the top, making sure to wrap them around it as best as you can as you make your way down. When it comes to fake trees however, since you build them up yourself, you have no way to go but up, as thus it’s best for you to add the lights as you’re building the tree, with each section of it having its own section of lights added to it.

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With the lights done you can now move on to the ornaments, but before you go crazy putting all the ornaments on you do have to remember the most important one… the one at the top. People tend to save the top ornament for last, but its good practice to put that one first because you don’t know if it might topple your tree over, plus it’s a lot harder to add it in after you’ve gone through the work of meticulously putting on all the ornaments. Consider going with a star, a bird or an angel, these are the traditional ornaments that are used at the top of the tree and can go well with almost any set of ornaments or lights.

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Now you can move on to the ornaments but, as we stated before, you still have to follow the layers format that we mentioned. This means that as you decorate your tree you will have to add things in a way that doesn’t obstruct other ornaments and ruins the view.

So, if you’re going to add any ribbons or garlands (like the ones mentioned previously), we recommend that you add those after the lights. Consider going with plastic or metallic garlands if you think that it’d fit your design better (we mentioned popcorn garlands but those are harder to pull off right and they might end up turning into a tedious task).

Also if you decide to go with a ribbon garland you have to absolutely make sure that it isn’t too wide, as it could end up becoming trouble when it comes to wrapping it around the tree, and it might even throw the whole design off.

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Ooookay, don’t worry, we’re finally at the last part. Now that you’ve set up the lights and ribbons and the top ornament it’s time to put up the “bottom” ornaments. Like everything else we covered so far this is a very methodical process: first you have to split up your ornaments (your Christmas balls, acorns, angels or anything else you have) in categories, this is so that you don’t get mixed up and know where every ornament of every type is as you put them on the tree.

Also, remember to put them around the tree evenly, instead of putting all the ornaments on one side show the other one some love by splitting them along, this also helps in giving it an aligned atmosphere that will help the tree as a whole stand out more. You can also create your own patterns for decorations and experiment, just make sure that it doesn’t completely throw off the tree itself.

Lastly, and this is very important. If you live with pets or children, it is recommended that you add as little ornaments at the bottom of the tree as you can. The reason for this is that…well, pets and children want to play with everything around them, even pulling at the ornaments that you so carefully put up. So instead of putting ornaments at the bottom, make sure to wrap some more ribbons or stuff that can’t be easily pulled off (more lights also work).

Congratulations! You have completed your Christmas tree. Hopefully you’ve come up with a theme that fits you and used ornaments that have given you the best tree you could possibly have (or otherwise, well, it gets better with practice). Again, while this guide acts as a good starting point, we invite you to experiment and go with your own techniques, this is something that you improve on the more you do it after all, even if it’s only one day a year.

But regardless of how the tree came out, what matters is that you and your family feel content with it. You can also invite friends or others close to you to help you out, decorating a tree can be an arduous task, but it’s also one that highlights the most important thing about Christmas: coming together and spending time with the ones you love. Just don’t fight over who gets to put the star at the top.

Photo Credits: Amazon/Digital Trends/Walmart/wikiHow/Christmas Lights Etc/Macho Picture/Not on the High Street/ Love to Know

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