Get ready for the Christmas season with our clever tricks to simplify the holidays. Including crafty Christmas wrapping ideas, must-try ideas for hosting guests, and why-didn't-I-think-of-that Christmas shortcuts, our tips for the holiday season are guaranteed to make your life easier.View Slideshow
Be creative by decorating your Christmas tree with a favorite theme that suits your decorating style or your family's personality. We were inspired by a local festival of trees and have included tips for bringing the looks inside your own Christmas home. Bonus: We've included lighting tips to make your tree shine.
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.
When you love a theme, don't shy away from making a big statement. Glowing jewel tones are used throughout the ornaments but are the most impressive in the giant bow tree topper. Mixing in soft white bird ornaments is a fun touch that highlights what this homeowner loves.
Your tree isn't complete without these tips for a house as pretty as a Christmas magazine.
Start with a brightly colored tree for a sweet-as-can-be look. Ornaments include 3-D red paper balls 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.
(image credit: Kelly Lanza)
For a tree that's special to your family and one-of-a-kind, decorate with handmade treasures and letters representing each relative. Art projects, sentimental ornaments, and lots of fun color make this tree unique. Want an unexpected touch? Try placing the tree in a rustic basket instead of opting for the usual tree skirt.
Embrace a warm-weather vibe -- even if temps are more "brrrr" than beachy. Starfish, seashells, and other coastal-theme ornaments adorn this tree for a cheery and fun look. Add some personalization by hanging monograms. Don't own seaworthy ornaments? No problem! Watch our nifty salt dough tutorial, below.
Add texture and beauty to your Christmas tree: We share our top tips.
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.
Nature provides the inspiration for this eye-catching birch garland. It's a cinch to make -- see how.
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 to the World" garland, 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.
(image credit: Mallory Fitzsimmons)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Three doable tips that will take your tree from basic to brava.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.