Designers Share How to Decorate a Christmas Tree

christmas tree and mantel / Instagram

If you've always wanted to master the art of decorating a Christmas tree but aren't sure of the exact order of steps to follow when doing so, you've come to the right place. Here, designers share their tried and true tree-trimming tips, all of which will help you turn your home into that winter wonderland you've always dreamt of. Read on and get ready to decorate a standout tree this holiday season!

Select a Tree for Your Home

First things first, you'll need to select a tree to trim, which means deciding whether you'd like to go the live or artificial route. HomeGoods style expert Jenny Reimold shares her thoughts on the real versus fake tree conundrum. "While real trees are beautiful, the maintenance and longevity can make them a bit impractical," she says. "Artificial trees are easy to care for, typically pre-lit and the branches are much sturdier for decorating."

christmas tree with lights / Instagram

Identify a Theme

This is a crucial next step in the tree decorating process, Reimold says. "Select your favorite holiday aesthetic or wait to see what catches your eye while shopping, then explore decorations that tie the overall theme together," she explains. Reimold was inspired by the selection of evergreen items at HomeGoods and used that to inspire her tree theme. "I looked for pinecones, decorative rattan reindeer, and natural elements to bring the theme to life," she says.

If you're not inclined to decorate based on a specific theme, simply choose some key colors to highlight on your tree. "Start by selecting two to three colors that complement the color palette of the room and evoke the mood you want to create," designer Tangy Brown of Tangela Brown Interiors says. "When you are ready for a refresh, select one color to change out for a new twist."

Keep in mind that there's really no right or wrong approach when it comes to what colors you use on your tree; by no means do you need to stick to traditional red and green. "A monochromatic tree can be beautiful and will bring joy and elegance while fitting in nicely with your artwork and furniture; whether you prefer whites, neutrals, or bright colors depends on your own personal style and personality," Véra Kempf of SINGULART says.

trimmed tree

Spacecrafting Photography for Bria Hammel Interiors

Place a Topper on the Tree

Reimold prefers to tackle this step before hanging the rest of her ornaments. "I like to top the tree first to help determine the balance and proportion of ornaments that will be added," she says. And once again, don't be afraid to draw back to your theme here. "For example, you could use faux sprigs of greenery or prop your favorite holiday character atop for a fun and festive theme," Reimold adds.

Alternate Lights and Garland

Reimold suggests working from the inside out when hanging lights and garlands on her tree. "Start from the top as far in as you can, then work back out along the edge for an extra bright and textured foundation," she suggests. When it comes to selecting garland, note that there are so many styles to choose from to add personalization to your tree. "Garlands come in many shapes and forms—you can find wooden ones, velvet ones, or even make them," Kempf says. "They’ll be sure to make your tree unique and eye-catching."

ornaments and garland on tree

Tangela Brown Interiors

Hang Those Ornaments

Next up is hanging your collection of ornaments! Be sure to hang ornaments of different sizes, Reimold notes. "Stuff larger ornaments toward the inside of the tree, then place small, round ornaments along the outside," she suggests. And don't forget to tackle those oft-forgotten places, too. "For depth and interest, hang some ornaments closer to the trunk as well as on the tip of the branches," Brown notes.

christmas tree with ornaments / Instagram

Add Extra Texture

To take your tree to the next level, be sure to add some texture to it. "If there is one tip that we feel really makes our trees stand out from the rest it’s adding in texture with picks and stems," Bria Hammel of Bria Hammel Interiors, says. "When selecting picks or stems for your tree, we try to choose a few different styles to keep things interesting and not overly repetitive."