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BEFORE YOU DECORATE
It’s easy to underestimate the space required to accommodate a tree, so it’s wise to measure the height of your ceilings before heading out, and then pick a tree that’s one foot lower than that. To tell if your tree’s fresh, pinch the end of a branch. If quite a few needles tumble to the ground, the tree is already drying up. When you do finally scoop up that perfect tree, ask the store to re-cut the base for you before heading home.
Back at home, get your tree in water ASAP and make sure to place it far away from any heat source. Over the next few days, give the tree as much water as possible - that's what will keep it fresh and last longer. Wait at least 24 hours before decorating it to give the branches enough time to adapt to the temperature in your home. Most importantly, don’t forget to turn off your Christmas lights before bedtime. If you prefer faux fir, invest in a high-quality product that lasts several years to cut down on your environmental footprint. These days, most models come with built-in lighting, which makes decorating that much easier. If some of the branches are lacking in tone, or they’re just too long, snip them off with pruning shears. If you’re dealing with an artificial tree, take a moment to fluff up the branches a bit. If you share your home with cats, secure your tree by wrapping fishing line around the top and attaching it to the wall.
Select a spot that will showcase your tree, but make sure it's not in the middle of a high-traffic zone for kids and pets. Alternatively, a new spot could serve as inspiration for a new way to decorate the tree. If you’re dealing with an artificial tree, take a moment to fluff up the branches a bit.
Create a gorgeously decorated tree by unifying the elements, either by palette or theme.
It's easy to go overboard when decorating your tree, but for a unified look, it’s best to take inspiration from your room's existing colour palette. This year's trendy trees are wearing a modern mix of black, red, champagne and gold. Other tasteful tree trends include pastel glamour (pearls, jewel tones, velvet); Scandi Christmas (light wood, felt, pared-down graphic ornaments); monochromatic harmonies (gold, white, glass); Canadiana cabin (rustic textures and traditional ornaments); and retro kitsch (unicorns, pineapples, doughnuts). Woodland creatures continue to be big this year: lots of owls, black bears, polar bears, llamas.
Craving an Insta-worthy Christmas tree? Load up on lights! At least 400 for a six-foot-tall tree, double that number for a nine-footer. Start from the top, going from trunk to branch tip (don’t forget to hide the plugs). For a chic and inviting look, go with only one hue — preferably a soft white — and avoid the “blink” mode!
When applying tinsel or garlands, start at the top of the tree; lay pearl garlands and tulle ribbons zigzag style. Be sure you have enough length to make lovely, generous waves. If you don’t have a lot of ornaments on hand, fabric is a fabulous alternative to dress up a tree.
After sorting your ornaments by colour and style, hang the prettiest ones on the most visible branches, varying heights and widths. Ideally, it’s best to hang between five and seven matching or similar pieces for a harmonized look.
Next, hang multiple, solid-coloured ornaments of varying sizes left and right, high and low, as if you were hanging them at the corners of an imaginary triangle. Short on ornaments? Depending on your theme, use other holiday items as well: old Christ-mas cards, framed photos, figurines, candy, Christmas music scores, etc.
Place decorations that don’t have hangers, get crafty. Twigs, pussy willows, feathers, faux flowers and bows are fair game — it all depends on the style you’re aiming for. For a more interesting way to hide an unsightly stand, get creative by using a wood, jute or metal box. For faster camouflage, use a throw, large container or wrapped gifts.
Here are eight full-scale, festive decorating ideas without the tree.
1. Drop a few branches and Christmas balls into an oversized jar. Done.
2. Place an old step ladder in a living room corner, and wrap it up in garlands and glowing white lights. Cute!
3. Stick Christmas cards to the wall in the shape of a Christmas tree or create a triangle-shaped Advent calendar.
4. Pile up presents — tied together with string — into a shape suggestive of a Christmas tree.
5. Scandi inspiration: cut a simple, geometric tree shape out of a piece of plywood. Then, punch holes into it and hook your ornaments through them when you’re ready to decorate!
6. Using a large mirror or chalkboard wall, create a Christmas tree shape with festive washi tape or chalk.
7. With four or five wooden boards of varying sizes, build a tree-shaped wall shelf. Once you get to the top, slap a star on it, line the shelves below with ball ornaments, and — boom! — there’s your tree.
8. Replace the tree with a modern cedar wreath.
Image Courtesy of Deserres