Decorating Your Tree

Decorating Your Tree

How to Decorate a Tree

There is no “wrong” way to decorate a Christmas tree.  Our guide below gives an example of how to easily decorate a tree, but if you have a routine and tradition that works, go for it!  Decorating a Christmas tree is a traditional event that should be enjoyed by the whole family (not just Mom or Dad!).  Get your whole family involved in choosing and creating decorations and then adding them to your tree.


Step 1 - If you have chosen a natural tree

Always keep your tree fresh and green.  To do this, when you get your tree home and are ready to install it in the tree stand, cut the bottom stump with a fresh cut and set it in water immediately. A fresh-cut tree will absorb several litres of water right from the start. For this reason, it is important during the first week to check and refill the water level as needed. After the first week you can reduce the frequency of adding water to your stand. In the case of large trees, be sure to place your tree in a stand that has a large water reservoir and try to keep it filled.
Some natural trees may require a bit of pruning to give it a nice symmetrical shape.  Don’t be afraid to make a snip here or there!
Note: Steps 2 to 6 are for both natural and artificial trees!
Step 2 – Choosing a location for your tree

Choose a location for your tree that is low-traffic and away from fireplaces, heaters, ducts or any other heat source.  If your tree is unstable or if it is a natural tree, anchoring your tree (near the top) to a wall could provide security for your family and/or pets.  Simply tie nylon thread around the trunk and anchor it to a wall using screw hooks fastened securely to the wall.  Ensure the thread is not in an area that people will move through.
Step 3 - Installing lights on the tree

When decorating your Christmas tree, always put lights on first, then your garlands or ribbons, then the ornaments and finally, your tree top and your trimmings (icicles or crystal fibre).

To install your lights, work from the inside out and from the bottom to the top.  Start arranging lights on the branches near the base of the tree. Weave strings of lights along the branches starting from the trunk out to the ends of the tips and then loop back towards the trunk.  Using this method, move to the outer edges of the branches working your way up the tree.  By lighting the interior of your tree, you add depth and perspective to your presentation.  When you near the top (about ¾ of the way up or above eye-level for an average adult) of the tree, you should hang the lights only on the outer edges of the branches.  Make sure there is no loose wiring bunching up near the bottom of your tree.  If you do have excess, wind it around the stump (well clear of any water if you are using a natural tree).  To ensure safe and secure connections, tape together any electrical plug connections using certified electrical tape.

Step 4 - Installing garlands and ribbons

Garlands and ribbons are used as accents to your tree, usually complementing the colour theme of your decorations.  When arranging your garlands and/or ribbons, avoid having them rest on the light bulbs from your light strings as, depending on the material used to make the garland or ribbon, it could pose a fire hazard.
Start arranging the garlands and/or ribbons on the branches from the middle then move to the outer edges of the next branches, weaving in and out.  As with the lights, start at the bottom and move up to the top.  
Step 5 - Placement of ornaments

These are some easy steps to follow when decorating your tree.

  • Don't hang all your ornaments just on the tips of the branches. Place ornaments and other decorations “inside” your tree to add depth and interest.
  • Hang fragile, antique, sentimental, and hand-made or heirloom ornaments from the middle to the top of your tree.  Do not hang near the bottom so as to keep them out of the reach of children and/or pets.
  • Emphasize the vertical shape of your tree by interspersing dangling ornaments such as icicles, teardrops or danglers amongst your themed ornaments.
  • To add variety to your tree, vary the size, shape and finishes of your ornaments.  You can combine shiny and matte ornaments as well as large and small ornaments.  Creativity is the key to a beautiful tree so don’t hold back your inspiration.
  • Sort your ornaments between “filler” and “theme” ornaments as well as by colour groups before putting them on your tree.  This will allow you to recognize where you might be missing ornaments before you start decorating.

Start by arranging and evenly spacing your "filler ornaments" around the tree. These would include basic solid colour balls that will coordinate and enhance your decorating scheme. You'll need about 20 "filler ornaments" for every 61cm (2FT) of Christmas tree (in height).

Mix one-of-a-kind, special or themed ornaments between the basic ornaments. Plan to use at least 10 special themed ornaments for every 61cm (2FT) of tree.  As your collection of ornaments grows, put the special ornaments closer together.

Occasionally stand back and evaluate your work as you progress.  This will allow you to determine areas that are under or over-covered.
(Please feel free to refer to our “How to pack up your tree” for tips on taking down your tree at the end of the holidays.)
Step 6 - The Finishing Touches

Select a tree topper that compliments your theme.  A rustic theme might look best with an Old World Santa, Rustic Star or bow as a tree topper.  A heirloom, traditional or whimsical theme might look best with an angel as a tree topper.  A modern or minimalist tree might look best with a light-up star tree topper.  Don’t be afraid to be creative and unique on how you top your tree; it is your tree, after all, and should reflect your personality! We use all kinds of items to top our trees - like a cardinal, top hat, bear in a branch, or large star ornament. 

You do not need to place it on the very top - instead wire it to the front of the top of your tree or twist the branches around to hold it.  Fishing line or decorative tape can help to keep it in place.  For heavy tree toppers consider adding a piece of dowling to the back of the tree with wire, decorative tape or velcro and then place the tree top on top or in front of this. It will act as an anchor and not be visible.
Finally, you can add your icicle strands, snow, snow spray or angel hair as the finishing touch.  (A word of caution: icicle strands and angel hair could cause intestinal difficulties with some pets if ingested.  Try to keep them from hanging completely off the bottom of your tree and away from your pets.)  

Return to top

Tree Decorating Chart

Tree Height Number and Suggested Size of Ornaments Number of Feet of Garland or Ribbons # of
Mini Lights
# of
C7 Lights
# of
C9 Lights
40 to 60
of 30mm (1.25") ornaments
1.2m - 1.8m
(4FT - 6FT)
20 to 35 - -
60 to 80
of 30mm - 50mm (1.25" - 2") ornaments
2.1m - 2.7m
(7FT - 9FT)
50 to 70 - -
137cm - 167cm
(4.5FT - 5.5FT)
120 ornaments of different sizes
from 30mm - 50mm (1.25" - 2")
4.6m - 7.6m
(15FT - 25FT)
80 to 300 75 to 125 -
1.8m - 2.1m
(6FT - 7FT)
225 ornaments of different sizes
from 50mm - 85mm (2" - 3.25")
15.2m - 22.9m
(50FT - 75FT)
350 to 550 250 to 450 250 to 450
2.3m - 2.6m
(7.5FT - 8.5FT)
300 ornaments of different sizes
from 50mm - 85mm (2" - 3.25")
24.4m - 30.5m
(80FT - 100FT)
600 to 800 500 to 700 500 to 700
2.9m - 3.7m
(9.5FT - 12FT)
450 ornaments of different sizes
from 70mm - 100mm (2.75" - 4")
36.6m - 45.7m
(120FT - 150FT)
900 to 1200 800 to 1000 800 to 1000
650 ornaments of different sizes
from 70mm - 100mm (2.75" - 4")
48.8m - 61m
(160FT - 200FT)
1200 to 1600 1000 to 1200 1000 to 1200

Please note the above chart is provided as a guideline only.  Individual tastes may vary resulting in some wanting to use less or more decorations.  In addition, lengths and numbers will vary depending on the style and fullness of the tree selected.  When making a determination of the number of ornaments to hang on a tree, consider the number of tips there are on the tree.  If it is a very full tree, there are more tips and you can hang more ornaments.
Return to top
How to Pack Up Your Tree

In some ways, packing up your Christmas tree and its decorations and lights is almost as important as putting it up.  The manner in which you remove and package your decorations will greatly influence the ease of putting up your tree the following year.
Step 1 - Remove ornaments: After taking off any tinsel icicle strands or Angel hair, it is time to remove your ornaments. When removing your ornaments, try and keep the hooks with the ornament.  Wrap fragile, antique or heirloom ornaments individually in tissue paper and return them to their boxes, or place them in sturdy plastic containers with cardboard dividers. Group the ornaments by colours or themes and label the boxes so next year you can find what you need easily.

Step 2 - Remove garlands and/or ribbons: After you have removed your ornaments, remove your garlands/and or ribbons.  Roll them on a piece of cardboard to keep them from tangling.  Wrap each spool in tissue paper or put each in a plastic bag.  This will also reduce tangling or breakage.
Step 3 - Remove the lights: Start where you finished when you put the lights up, and work backward. Wind each strand into a neat bundle, and place strands back in their manufacturer’s packaging.  If this is not available, pack each string in a separate plastic bag so they won't get tangled or wrap them on a spool (the way garden hoses are stored).  If your bulbs are the “push-in” or “screw-in” type, do a quick check that all bulbs are firmly set in their sockets.  This will save you aggravation when you put them back up the following season.  Try to keep your sales receipts with your light set packaging to make it easy to return defective items to your retailer or to apply for warranties.

Step 4 - Take down the tree: If your tree is a natural tree, the easiest way to dispose of your tree is to use a plastic tree bag.  Envelop the tree and the stand in the bag and then take them outside. Once outside, remove the stand from the bag, close the bag and discard the tree. If you haven't used a tree bag, you can always take the tree out wrapped in a sheet. Another method is to clip off the branches, bag them, and take them outside separately.

If your tree is an artificial tree, close up the tree after removing all decorations, lights, garlands and tinsel icicles etc.  Use the original shipping box or a storage bag/box to repackage your tree.  Ensure that all branches are properly closed as an improperly closed branch could cause damage to the hinge.  Make sure to package your tree stand with the tree.

IMPORTANT: All decorations, lights and trees should be stored in a cool, dry location. Storing your decorations in such a location will prevent heat and humidity from damaging your precious decorations and keepsakes and ensure that no warranties are negated by misuse.