FRESH OR FAUX TREES?
If you prefer a fresh tree, remember the “early bird gets the worm”. Scotch Pine is the most common Christmas tree because the needles barely fall off even when dry. Douglas Fir has widely spaced branches that make it great for larger ornaments. Fraser Fir is lovely and has dense branching that makes decorating so easy. Spruce has an unpleasant odor when the needles are crushed. If the needles do not spring back when you rub them, move on!
Keep the tree outdoors protected from wind until you are ready to bring it inside to decorate. Allow a couple of days for the boughs to drop before decorating. A fresh trunk cut is required when you bring the tree indoors to keep the tree hydrated. Make a fresh cut across the base of the trunk about a quarter of an inch up from the original cut.
Before you install, be sure to put the tree removal bag underneath the tree. Hide it with your tree skirt. It makes clean-up ten times easier!
Keeping it Fresh
Place the tree in a stand that holds at least a gallon of water. To prevent trees from drying, place them far from radiators, fireplaces, furnace ducts, televisions and direct sunlight. Keep your tree fresh by watering it daily. Add a bit of ginger ale to the water. The sugar in the soda helps the tree’s needles stay soft and supple.
Allow enough space for the tree stand and two feet between the top of the tree and your ceiling.
Trees look shorter and smaller on a lot or farm. Measure the height and width of your room before you go tree shopping.
You cannot beat faux in terms of decorating ease. What you lose in scent… you pick up in simple storage, assembly ease and lighting.
Decorate in Sequence
Step One: Let There Be Light
If you want to decorate for lushness and drama, use one strand of 100 lights for every vertical foot. For extra POW, use 200 lights. Never ever use less than 50 lights per foot.
Visually divide the tree into four pie slices or triangles bottom to top for easy removal using a small zigzag method as you go. Start at the top of the tree and wrap the string around a branch, working from the trunk to the tip and back to the trunk, move to the next branch.
Step Two: Ribbon or Garland
Choose wired ribbon that matches the colour scheme of your décor. It usually takes five rolls of ribbon for full garlanding or three rolls of large deco mesh ribbon.
There are several techniques for using ribbons:
French Bows: Make generously proportioned bows from wired ribbon that have at least five loops. You will need 36 for a seven to eight foot tree.
Downward Spiral: This is a full twist of ribbon or mesh garland from the top of the tree swirled around the tree right to the bottom.
The River: Use wide organza ribbon or deco mesh to create a “river” effect that starts from the top of the tree and pools to the ground. We usually put in three rivers!
Step Three: Ornaments
You need a minimum of 20 ornaments for every foot of tree in three different sizes: oversize, medium and tippers.
Pick a single colour or a maximum of two colours to create a cohesive, colour-coordinated look to the tree.
Vary the sizes and shapes. Changing the size, scale and shape of the ornaments adds depth to the tree. Mix balls and teardrops interspersed with your sentimental favourites too.
If you are decorating a tree that is viewed from all sides, divide the total number of each size of ornament by four. Using the same pie-shape approach as you used for lighting the tree, disperse each group through one of the one-quarter pie shapes. Place them evenly from the top to the bottom of the tree.
Most trees are viewed from three sides. Don’t waste ornaments on the very back of the tree if it is facing a wall. Instead, divide each collection of ornaments by three… using three pie-shapes for your division.
Oversize balls are best placed deep within the branches of the tree. They add colour to light up the darker pockets of the tree. Start with your largest ornaments and layer them evenly throughout. Then use up the medium sized ornaments mid-branch. Complete with the smallest ornaments on the tips of the branches to “drip” from the ends. Cluster ornaments together for even greater impact. Odd numbers or ornaments work best when you are clustering.