Collected Memories Christmas Tree
Spend time reflecting with a collected memories tree theme. Prepare well ahead of time by pulling your oldest ornaments out of storage or asking family members to send you some of theirs. Add ornaments from your parents or your grandparents, and make an entire day out of decorating the tree, telling stories about the ornaments as you go.
(image credit: Amy Buchanan)
Editor's Lighting Tip: Worried you missed a spot? Step back from the Christmas tree and look at it with your eyes crossed. Where you see dark holes, rearrange Christmas lights, and fill in voids.
Sweet Pink Christmas Tree
Start with a brightly colored tree for a sweet-as-can-be look. Ornaments include a 3-D red paper ball and basic bulbs in pastel colors. Extra sweetness is achieved through a peppermint-dotted bow topper and homemade doughnut ornaments. The doughnuts were made with plaster in a standard doughnut-baking mold.
Decorate a Tree!
(image credit: Kelly Lanza)
Photo Tag Christmas Tree
The holidays are all about family, so this Christmas tree celebrates those memories with DIY photo ornaments. Print black-and-white or sepia-tone photos and glue them atop plain paper shipping tags. The rest of the tree is simple, keeping the focus on the photos.
(image credit: Daune Pitman)
White-On-White Christmas Tree Theme
The retro white-on-white Christmas tree theme has returned! Go for an all-white artificial tree and limit the garland and ornaments to white, off-white, and silver. If you aren't quite ready to go all the way with this trend, purchase a mini white tree instead, and style it with white decorations to make a smaller statement on an entryway table or buffet.
(image credit: Lucy Akins)
Editor's Lighting Tip: Use three 100-light sets per foot for a fresh tree, and 50-light strands for an artificial tree.
How to Decorate a Christmas Tree
Add texture and beauty to your Christmas tree: We share our top tips.
Gilded Gold Christmas Tree
Get the metallic look by adding nothing but gold to your Christmas tree. Start by creating a foundation with gold ball ornaments, then fill in with gold starbursts, gilded "Joy" garlands, and figurines. For added effect, first lay all the ornaments on a drop cloth and spray with a layer of glitter paint. Let dry before hanging.
Top Lighting Tips
(image credit: Mallory Fitzsimmons)
Santa's Workshop Christmas Tree
This festive Christmas tree is decorative and informative -- from the center of the tree a helpful arrow guides the way to Santa's workshop. To achieve a similar look, blend traditional favorites, such as red, green, and white ornament balls, with whimsical embellishments, such as shimmery reindeer ornaments and a quirky elf tree topper.
Family Photos Christmas Tree
Photocopy pictures, glue them to silver paper, and frame them with rickrack and other trims to turn your Christmas tree into a family scrapbook. Fill the boughs with small apples, kumquats, and vintage-style ornaments.
Editor's Lighting Tip: Pick lights in a color that match your key ornaments (in this case, orange). That way they enhance the color scheme rather than draw away from it.
Glittery Gold Christmas Tree
Not all that glitters is gold. White lights, glittery cursive Christmas-word ornaments, and gleaming ornament balls make this decadent Christmas tree glow from within. Top with an oversize, shear bow with cascading tails for extra glamour.
Editor's Lighting Tip: When lighting a fresh Christmas tree, divide the tree into three vertical triangular sections. Plug in your first string of lights, and position the last bulb on the string at the top of the tree trunk. Zigzag the lights across the triangle being careful not to let the cord overlap. At the end of the first string, plug in the next, and continue zigzagging until you reach the bottom. Do not exceed 300 lights from end to end. Repeat this process for the other two sections.
Neutral Christmas Tree
Who says neutral Christmas decorations can't stand out? Drenched in golden, copper, bronze, and cream-color hues, this twinkly tree boasts traditional Christmas beauty. Deck the tree with white Christmas lights, a gold-bead garland, copper and gold ornament balls, golden starfish, delicate off-white paper flowers, and wooden ornaments. For final touches, add a majestic crown-shape tree topper and decorate the base with brown paper-wrapped packages.
Editor's Lighting Tip: If your artificial tree is not prelit, wrap miniature Christmas lights securely around the branches, so you can permanently attach them to the tree. Light each section separately. Don't cross sections or points of assembly with light strands -- sections will no longer come apart easily.
Colorful Christmas Tree
Dare to be different! Make your Christmas tree one of a kind by incorporating colorful ornaments instead of the expected traditional red and green ones. With white lights, a wispy gossamer garland, bright felt ornaments hung from polka dot ribbons, and handwritten Christmas greetings, this Christmas tree feels youthful and fun.
Blue-and-Silver Christmas Tree
A blue-and-silver-theme Christmas tree brings serenity to the often-hectic holiday. Soft white lights, silver beaded garland, and shear ribbon with blue polka dots provide a tranquil scene. Add sparkly silver penguin cutout ornaments, an oversize blue-and-white gossamer bow tree topper, and fun disco ball ornaments for a light-hearted Christmas tree.
Editor's Lighting Tip: Don't overload your circuit with Christmas lights. Limit each circuit to 1,400 watts. If other lights in your house dim when you turn on the Christmas lights, your circuit is overloaded.
Top Tree-Trimming Tips
Three do-able tips that will take your tree from basic to brava.
Crafty Christmas Tree
Forget fancy! Decorate with handmade Christmas ornaments for a homey, cozy Christmas tree. Colorful candy cane, wreath, and snowflake ornaments crafted from pipe cleaners and animal ornaments made from Perler beads pop against the subtle white lighting. A multicolor beaded garland looks like a candy necklace against the evergreen and adds simple sweetness.
Editor's Lighting Tip: Mix and match your Christmas lights. Highlight a background of white or clear lights by wrapping the outer limbs of the Christmas tree with strands of colored lights.
Nifty Tree Tricks
Frosty the Snowman Christmas Tree
Celebrate the season anew with a Frosty the Snowman-inspired Christmas tree. Craft or buy a papier-mache snowman head and place atop a white artificial Christmas tree. Space three black ornament balls down the center to create buttons, secure silver branches to the middle for arms, and position rain boots under the base to create feet.
Finish by wrapping a red scarf underneath Frosty's head and embellishing all over with transparent ornament balls and silver snowflake ornaments. Don't forget the black top hat tree topper!
Editor's Lighting Tip: To prevent themed or white Christmas trees from looking busy, keep lighting simple. Use a few subtle strands of Christmas lights or none at all.
Red-and-Gold Christmas Tree
Shimmery ornaments and eccentric accents give this traditional red-and-gold Christmas tree gusto. Soft white lights, chorister ornaments, and sprigs of plastic holly look fancy and festive, while the red ruffle tree topper, thick strands of gold and red sheer ribbons, and glittery gold music note, angel, and bow ornaments add a distinctly modern feel.
Editor's Lighting Tip: If your Christmas tree can only be seen by passersby from the front, place all the Christmas lights to the front of the tree only.
Paper Stars Christmas Tree
This Christmas tree is an all-star! Simple blue, red, yellow, and purple paper stars, decorated and strung from colorful ribbons on a Christmas tree, look friendly and festive. Multicolor Christmas lights and a printed-ribbon tree topper add more color to this easily crafted Christmas tree.
Editor's Lighting Tip: Small twinkly lights and colored lights make more impact when you layer several strands and pair them with reflective ornaments.
Santa-Inspired Christmas Tree
Santa comes but once each year -- lengthen his visit by creating a Santa-inspired Christmas tree. Cover a Christmas tree with white lights. Wrap the top and bottom with a white feather boa and the area between with red gossamer and sheer ribbon. Secure a large black belt around the middle of the tree to create Santa's waist. Make gatherings throughout the middle section with red ornament ball clusters, and embellish the tree skirt with a pair of Santa-esque slippers.
Red, Silver, and Gold Christmas Tree
This radiant Christmas tree shimmers so sweetly it looks sugarcoated. Rather than scatter glittery red, silver, and gold ornament balls evenly throughout the Christmas tree, place them in clusters on the same branch. Delicate butterfly ornaments with sparkly gold outlines, plastic gold candles, and simple snowflake ornaments fill in the gaps. Top the tree with an oversize, elaborate red-and-gold bow with fluttering tails.
Editor's Lighting Tip: To illuminate your Christmas tree from the inside out, string lights around the base of the trunk and work your way up the tree, wrapping individual branches from the trunk to the tip of the branch and back.
Blue-and-White Christmas Tree
This little snowman must have worked hard on this blue-and-white Christmas vision. Bedecked with white and blue lights, stretchable fake snow, snowflake ornaments, ornament balls, and overlapping blue-and-white beaded garlands, this Christmas tree is beautifully busy. For more blue-and-white decor, craft an elaborate tree topper from snowflakes, plastic sprigs of blueberries, and shimmery white and blue ribbons.
Editor's Lighting Tip: Use Christmas lights of all the same wattage. This will prevent power surges and prolong the life of the bulbs.
American Pride Christmas Tree
Let your true colors show by decorating your Christmas tree in patriotic red, white, and blue. The all-American look adapts well to December or July!
Editor's Lighting Tip: Watch ads closely for the best sales on Christmas lights as it gets closer to tree decorating time, and be open to where you shop for Christmas lights -- the hardware store, grocery store, and crafts store are all good places to get your lights.
Black-and-White Silhouette Christmas Tree
Use old-fashioned framed silhouettes in a fresh, updated way -- as Christmas tree decorations. Hang them on the tree with green ribbon, then embellish with silver mementos and sprigs of faux white berries to complete the classic look.
Editor's Lighting Tip: Match the color of your Christmas lights with the color of your ornaments to create a classy, monochromatic look for your Christmas tree.
Mitten and Ice Skates Christmas Tree
Celebrate the signs of winter by filling the boughs of your Christmas tree with mittens and ice skates in coordinating colors. Wire the skates sturdily to the trunk and space them evenly to balance the tree.
Editor's Lighting Tip: The best way to untangle Christmas tree lights is by winding the strands on your arm, making sure that you don't pull on any of the bulbs while unwinding. Before you start untangling, plug in the strand of lights to see which bulbs need to be replaced -- don't wait until the lights are on the tree to find out which lights don't work!
Sparkling Starfish Christmas Tree
What better time to recall balmy summer days on the beach than in the chilling depths of winter? Outfit a standard Christmas tree with glittering starfish and simple green flowers to remind you of the warmer days to come.
Editor's Lighting Tip: The best way to store Christmas tree lights is to wrap them on your arm when taking them down and secure the finished circle with a tie in the middle. If you saved the original box, slip them around the cardboard that came with your lights, and store them in the box. Manual and motorized coils that are specifically made to store Christmas tree lights are another option for light storage.
Little Presents Christmas Tree
Who says presents have to go under the tree? With these simple gift-box ornaments, there are plenty of presents to go around. For an extra surprise on Christmas morning, use one of the ornaments for a small gift, such as jewelry.
Editor's Lighting Tip: For a fun Christmas tree, pick up some lights that put on a show, such as LED lights that blink to the tune of popular Christmas carols or just on their own.
Miniature Village Christmas Tree
Hang tiny cardboard houses, churches, and other buildings on the tree to give the appearance of a little village set on a mountainside. Add ribbon garland to mimic winding roadways. These miniature houses are reproductions of ornaments made in the 1920s and 1930s. Some of these ornaments include an opening in the back for tree lights, allowing the village to be illuminated.
Editor's Lighting Tip: Green Christmas tree lights add subtlety to a holiday evergreen. Decorate with green and silver ornament balls to complete the look.
Family Heritage Christmas Tree
Decorate your tree to reflect your family heritage. Here, Swedish and Danish flag garlands mix with straw, felt, wood, and glass ornaments to dress the tree in a Scandinavian theme.
Editor's Lighting Tip: For a bold look on your Christmas tree, try decorating with bigger lights. Bigger lights cover more area, so lessen the number of ornaments you use so your tree isn't too crowded.
Blanket of Snow Tree
To create a convincing effect of thick snow, lay lengths of rolled cotton along the branches of your tree. Then sprinkle crystal snow over the cotton.
Editor's Lighting Tip: Create the same snowy effect for your Christmas lights by sprinkling faux snow on top of the strands once they're hung on the tree.
Silver Sparkle Christmas Tree
If your holidays are all sparkle and shine, you can't go wrong decking a tree in a silvery star garland, giant silver Christmas balls, shiny white ribbon, and twinkling stars for a dramatic effect.
Editor's Lighting Tip: Plug your Christmas tree lights into a special dimmer outlet so you can raise or lower the lights depending on the holiday mood you want to create.
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