Creative Christmas Tree Themes

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.

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    Traditional Rustic Christmas Tree

    Bring a cozy cabin vibe to your home by decking out your tree in traditional favorites. Red ribbon garland, pinecone stars, and woodland creature ornaments make for a rustic scheme. Add plaid details, like wrapping paper and ribbons, to complete the look in a way that's both classic and on-trend.

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    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.

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    Birds of a Feather Christmas Tree

    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.

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    Best Tree-Trimming Tips Ever

    Your tree isn't complete without these tips for a house as pretty as a Christmas magazine.

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    Glowing Gold and Green Christmas Tree

    When you love a specific color scheme, your decorating philosophy can be "the more the merrier." Pretty twinkling lights, shiny gold and green ornaments, and kid-friendly DIY garland are finished off with a sprinkling of artificial snow. A unique and eye-catching tree topper is the perfect final touch.
    Editor's Lighting Tip: Thin out branches before decorating to make each light and ornament have more presence. 
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    Sweet Pink Christmas Tree

    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)

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    Fun for the Kids Christmas Tree

    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.

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    Bold and Graphic Christmas Tree

    A white tree becomes a bold statement when done up in bright red, silver, and clear decorations. Wrap presents in graphic black-and-white patterns for continuity in theme that adds to the overall look. 

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    Coastal Christmas Tree

    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.

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    How to Decorate a Christmas Tree

    Add texture and beauty to your Christmas tree: We share our top tips.

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    Pop of Color Christmas Tree

    Choose a fun pop of color to be the guide for your tree decorations. If you have an accent color in your home, try mirroring it in your ornament choices. Here, pink contrasts with fresh white snowflakes for a unique look that nicely complements existing decor.

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    Sparkly Jewel Tone Christmas Tree

    Create a tree that's luminous but serene. Ribbon trims in a variety of jewel tones provide rich-looking color, while silver glitter ornaments add sparkle. The end result is a sophisticated tree that quietly shines.

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    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)

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    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.

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    DIY Birch Bark Garland

    Nature provides the inspiration for this eye-catching birch garland. It's a cinch to make -- see how.

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    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 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)

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    Top Tree-Trimming Tips

    Three doable tips that will take your tree from basic to brava.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    DIY Personalized Christmas Ornaments

    You don't need to custom-order ornaments to have personalized and heartfelt decor. Try this easy DIY and include loved ones on your tree.

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    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.

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    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!

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

  • Next Slideshow Christmas Ornament Crafts

    Christmas Ornament Crafts

    Keep these handmade Christmas ornaments for yourself, or use them as one-of-a-kind gifts this holiday season. Each of these 20+ Christmas ornament crafts is easy to make and perfect for this year's Christmas decorating.
    Begin Slideshow »

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