Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Christmas Tree Decorating Tutorial

While my trees don't quite have the sparkle like this...

I have picked up a thing or two about decorating Christmas trees. The key to it all...LAYERS! Tag along for my step by step tutorial for creating a beautifully decorated tree that works for YOU!

Shaping- This part is important to the overall look of the tree (and it's so easy even my husband can do it!) The key to shaping a tree is putting in one section at a time.  I always check the lights as I go, so I don't run into any problems once it's decorated.  Start at the inside of each branch, near the pole.  At the center, the branches go straight up to hide the inside of the tree.  As you work your way out, start angling the branches toward you. I know there are other ways to shape trees to make them look more like the actual style of tree you have, but this is the way that always works for me.

Fabric and Ribbon: There are many different things you can do to create a full looking tree with fabric and ribbon.  You can do as much or as little as you'd like! This particular tree has 3 layers of textiles. 
1st-  The first thing I do is use a fabric garland to fill the inside of the tree.  I used 2 - 9 foot garlands on this 7.5' tree. 
I started at the top of the tree and looped the garland all the way around the tree on the inside. The garland should be close to the pole, but not pulled in super tight.  This will create the look below and help fill in any ugly gaps. 
Wide ribbon- The next layer is a wider ribbon.  I use 2 different coordinating styles for this part.  It is very important to choose a style that is wired along the edges.  This will help it hold it's shape.

I cut my ribbon into approximately 4' sections.  This makes it easier to work with and allows you to start it where you want to.  You should be able to get in 2 good loops (hmm what to call it.. arch?)  from each section. I start mine at the top and work around the tree at a diagonal. To anchor it, tuck the ribbon into the inside of the tree and wrap a branch around it to keep it in place. A key for next year: staple the ribbon on each end.  Next year when you pull it out of storage, you won't have such a mess.

Here is what mine looked like when I finished that layer.  Hideous, right? This is the point where I always feel like ripping everything off and starting over.  It gets better as it starts filling in. Notice I alternated which color ribbon was on the top.  This helps add interest.
3rd layer- Curly Q's! This layer is completely optional, but helped add the fun, whimsy look that I was going for. You will need a smaller (2"-3")wired ribbon cut into shorter sections.  I wanted a varied look for this part, so some of my sections are longer than others ( I would say between 1'-3').  Again I used to coordinating ribbons to create a fun look. Staple one end of the ribbon to keep them together.
Insert the ribbon into the tree and anchor it by wrapping a branch around it.  Curl the ribbon into the shape you want it.  Since it is wired, it should hold it's shape.  (I've been using the same ribbon for 3 years now and it still holds.)

I stagger them throughout the tree, all the way around, until I get the look I want.
Balls- This is a great, inexpensive way to give your tree a full look! Plastic balls in solid colors are relatively cheap!Always start with your large plastic balls.  These go deep inside the tree and fill in holes or blank spaces.  

This size is good.  I throw in a few sparkles for fun.  Once you have filled in gaps with large balls, go back and add in small solid color balls.  These are placed back on the branch a little, but not deep within the tree.  I add TONS of cheap balls to my tree.  I also use some with a bit of sparkle or unusual shapes like finials. 

Bling- The last layer is your bling! This is what really sets your tree off.  This will include all your sparkly  or specialty ornaments.  Since this tree was done in red/silver I used lots of red and crystal drop ornaments to create an elegant look.  Place these on the ends of the branches to finish the tree off.

(Can you see my husband's contribution to the tree?  He was proud to place this ornament after the Aggie win this weekend!)

Tree topper-the last step to creating a beautiful tree is your topper.  Traditional toppers like angels or stars seem to be disappering more and more.  One fun way to finish off your tree is to use sprays or picks.  I use a combination of ribbon and funky picks for my topper.  I do not know how to make bows, fortunately you do not need to know how to create this look.  I created large ribbon loops that were approximately the same size each.  I wrapped the loops with florist wire and shaped them up.  I created 3 of these "bow like things" and anchored them to the top of the tree. They went all the way around. Once in, I just started sticking red and silver picks down through the loops.  I used 12 sprays to create this look. I also cut a few more strands of ribbon and hooked them in to look like tails.



And now you have your beautiful tree! It's all in the layers... textiles, balls, bling and topper!