Solved: Christmas Tree Decorating Challenges

Garnishing decorations on a tree is a time-honored Holiday tradition. Tree decorating as we know it today only started to gain popularity in American in the late 19th century, with decorations made by hand, from colorful ornaments to brightly dyed popcorn garlands. Today decorations include everything from passed-down heirloom ornaments to favorite food-themed ornaments wrapped twinkling lights and textured garlands. With so many decorations to choose from, it’s hard not to want to put everything on the tree. Here’s some editing tips to decorate your tree to look like it’s photo-ready for Elle Décor, or for family memory-making photos.

Challenge: Deciding on a Theme
Examine your collection closely and ask yourself: Is there an ornament that is particularly meaningful this year? Is there something that just must be present every year? How do you envision your tree to look? For example, are you leaning towards bold and bright or would you prefer to keep the mood soft and serene? After you’ve figured this out, focus on your favorites and set aside the ones that naturally belong together. Commit to pulling this look together from top of the tree to bottom. For instance, a wintry wonderland tree might have snowflakes in all shapes and sizes (big, small, round), paired with shimmery silvers and golds to keep the look warm and sophisticated.

Challenge: Decorating With Garland
Garland instantly adds pops of color and rich texture to trees, banisters, even mantels. These festive strands can also act as miracle workers concealing those inevitable bare spots in-between branches. Start by committing to one color palette. Choose something with depth, like a deep crimson, and then soften it up with complementary tones in pale pink, charcoal grey, and creamy ivory. As long as you stick within the same color family, you can play up the fun, unexpected factor like wrapping branches with pom poms, mittens, and mini ornaments.

Challenge: Too Many Ornaments
Start editing your collection by sorting. Empty the boxes and bins and organize the ornaments into categories: must-hang; maybe next year; never again. Once you’ve pared down to the tried–and–true favorites, find the palette that speaks to you. Dare to be a little different with a shocking lime green paired with shimmery neutrals, instead of traditional forest green. Then, focus on scale: Choose larger ornaments or ones with more unique shapes to hang first. Not only will these picks add more depth to the tree, they’ll also take up more space, which means fewer ornaments will be required.

Challenge: A Pet-safe Tree
Consider a tabletop tree that can stand out of harm’s way. Shop for ornaments that are shatter–resistant, made out of materials like cotton, felt or wool, and made of non-toxic materials.

Challenge:  Mix Old Decorations with New
For starters, remember this is not a competition of old versus new. Thankfully, these ornaments can hang in harmony. In order for this to look just right, you’ll need to decide which favorites complement—don’t compete with—one another. Take it slow and go through your selection one by one. Start with a vintage pick like a beautiful golden owl, and then work in a modern find like the hot pink filial to balance it off. Continue with this process until your tree is complete.


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