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How to Decorate a Christmas Tree

It’s the holiday season— time to ring the bells and deck the halls and put up your Christmas tree! If you’ve never put up a tree by yourself before, you might be a little confused. Where are all those balls and lights and garlands and tinsel supposed to go? Is there a proper order or placement? Don’t panic! Just check out this handy guide to decorating your very own Christmas tree.

Step 1: Wrap the Lights

What’s a Christmas tree without lights? A sad sight, that’s what. Even back in the bygone days of yore, people adorned their trees with lights. Of course, they used candles back then, which were a serious fire hazard; but fortunately in these modern times, we have the magic of electricity on our side.

Here’s where the advantage of an artificial tree comes into play. You can buy the thing prelit, already strung with hundreds of beautiful, sparkling lights! If you decided to use a real Christmas tree or an artificial one without lights, you’ll have to wrap the lights yourself. You might be tempted to jump ahead in the process and start putting on decorations; but trust us— your tree won’t look nearly as nice if you try to jam the lights in there after you’ve already placed your decorations.

Step 2: Add Garland

Next comes the garland. It basically needs to make artistic swoops all around the tree, so loop it over some branches and create waves of sparkly eye candy. Make sure that you have enough garland to go around your tree four or five times.

Garlands come in all shapes and sizes. There are skinny garlands and fat garlands, garlands with a fairly basic design and others that are an over-the-top glitter-fest.

Step 3: Hang the Ornaments

Time to take out the ornaments! If this is the first Christmas tree that you’ve put up on your own, you might not have a lot of decorations yet. You can find lots of ways to supplement your collection— sifting through bargain bins, hitting up the thrift stores, even making your own with a few simple supplies. Put your favorite ornaments on the tree first, as well as the biggest ones. Then add the other ornaments throughout the branches. Try to spread them out evenly, rather than clustering a bunch of them together and leaving unornamented gaps.

Step 4: Top the Tree

Traditionally, a star was the ideal topper for the peak of a Christmas tree. However, people use all sorts of things now, from angels and bows to sprays of glittery twigs. Some families use a large wooden cutout of the first letter of the family name. Others use a Santa hat, a deer head, a bird, or Old Saint Nick himself. Fans of various pop culture shows or books find ways to pay homage to their favorite TV series or movie— such as the sorting hat from Harry Potter, Dr. Who’s police box, or Yoda from Star Wars. The possibilities are endless. As long as your tree topper makes you smile and gives you that festive feeling, go for it! After all, that special warmth and joy of the heart is what this season is all about.

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