Christmas Tree Decorating Tips
When it comes to Christmas decorating, the Christmas tree holds the honor of being both the centerpiece, as well as the heart of most home's holiday decor.
Where did the idea of putting an evergreen in one's living room come from anyway? And what in the world does a tree have to do with Christmas? Well, in order to get to the origins of the Christmas tree, you have to go way back into history. Long ago, pagan people in Europe were known to decorate their homes with the boughs of evergreens in order to brighten their humble abodes during the dreary days of winter. When Christianity eventually came to Europe, the tradition of decorating with evergreens was adapted into the religion. German Christians began to bring evergreen trees into their homes and would decorate them with apples as a symbolic homage to the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. These early trees were known as Paradise Trees and became a traditional part of decorating for the Christmas holiday.
As time went on, other types of decorations were added to these Paradise trees, including nuts, cookies, various sweets, and pinecones. When German immigrants came to America, they brought their customs and traditions with them, one of these being the Paradise Tree. These early "Christmas trees" were viewed as a foreign custom, but this quickly changed in the year of 1848. England's Queen Victoria encouraged her German husband, Prince Albert, to put up and decorate an evergreen tree for the Christmas holiday as he had remembered doing as a child. This Christmas tree was featured in a publication called the Illustrated London News. No one could have possibly anticipated the excitement and popularity of Queen Victoria's Christmas tree, which was extravagantly decorated with various ornaments, sweets, candles and of course, an angel. Soon in many upper-class social circles it was both vogue and fashionable to not only have a Christmas tree, but to also try and create one that was more lavish than any others had been beforehand. By 1870, artisans were crafting fancy glass ornaments made especially for use on Christmas trees. By the mid-1880's, the first set of Christmas tree lights had been crafted and was touted as a safer alternative to the candles that traditionally had adorned the earliest Christmas trees.
A Christmas tree will be on display in nearly 80 percent of American households this year, which equates to over 94 million Christmas trees in total. Even though the way we decorate our trees today may be a little bit more modern (not to mention safer) than it was for our forebears, the time-honored tradition of decorating a Christmas tree is clearly here to stay.
Tips for Getting that Perfect Holiday Sparkle into Your Christmas Tree!
Lights. Let's face it. Lights and Christmas go hand in hand. Properly lighting your Christmas tree can mean the difference between an average or even ho hum tree and one that is simply jaw dropping, not to mention, breathtakingly beautiful. Bringing some amazing sparkle to your Christmas tree through lighting isn't difficult or complicated. It helps to know a few of the essentials in order to get the job done easily, effectively, as well as economically.
There is always a lot of focus on Christmas tree ornaments. Ultimately, it's the display of twinkling lights underneath that will serve as the essential shimmering backdrop to your tree masterpiece. Lights are what will ultimately give your tree its real "wow" factor. Getting the lighting just right will put you well on your way to having a tree that looks spectacular.
Types of Christmas Tree Lights. There are many different types of Christmas lights available in today's marketplace. Different types of tree lights will create different effects. What you end up purchasing to light your tree often comes down to personal preference. The more common types of Christmas tree lights you are likely to find include:
- Traditional Incandescent Lights. These types of tree lights have been around for many years and are by far the most popular and most inexpensive type of Christmas tree lights. Often seen as long strings of mini-lights, these types of bulbs come in many different colors or very commonly in a mixed variety of colors. Strings of incandescent lights will add warmth as well as rich hues to the tree for very little money. If you are putting up a real tree, the warmth from these lights can also help to release the scent of the pine into the air.
- LED Lights. LED lights are the newest type of Christmas tree lights. LED lighting is a brilliant white that does not create heat. This feature makes LED lighting safer than warmer types of lighting and also has the feature of being much more energy efficient. There is a very wide variety of shapes, styles and sizes of bulb covers found in LED lights. Putting a little of your sense of style and personality into your tree lighting can be a fun part of using some of the trendier new LED lighting styles. Since LED lights don't release heat, they won't do much to release the pine smell of your tree into the air. This lack of heat however, means that the LED Christmas lights are safer, more flame resistant and use far less energy. LED lights are more expensive but ultimately they will last substantially longer and are far more energy efficient than regular incandescent lights.
- Globe Lights. Globe lights are shaped like small round balls and work similarly to mini lights but because the bulbs are larger they produce a bigger lighting effect where they are placed on the tree.
- Bubble Lights. Bubble lights are a vintage favorite for many. These lights are best placed near the end of tree branches. When the lights are turned on, the liquid inside the vials attached to the lights begins to heat up, making bubbles move through the small tubes, which creates both a playful and mesmerizing effect. These lights were first made popular back in the 1930's and 1940's and today remain a very trendy retro look.
- Novelty Lights. Shorter strands of uniquely designed lights with a huge variety of special effects are available in the retail marketplace. These lights are sure to add pizzazz and charisma to your tree while adding a little of your unique personality and flair.
How Many Lights Will You Need?
When it comes to lighting your tree, much of this comes down to personal preference, but, generally speaking, the more lights you put on your tree, the better! A minimum guideline is to string about 100 lights for every foot of tree height for a very basic level of lighting. If you double this, your tree will look twice as amazing! Consider mixing the varieties of lights that you are going to use.
Lighting Your Tree
Plug in your lights in order to test them to make sure they light BEFORE you put them on the tree. Make sure you have a sturdy stepladder or ladder nearby to assist you as you put lights near the top of your tree. It's always a good idea to plug in the lights and string them on the tree while they are lit. This will ensure that you can see where you are putting the lights and will help you get an idea of how the overall effect is looking. This simple trick will ultimately save you time in the long run.
You may have your own tried and true method of stringing Christmas lights, but there are a couple of methods that will ensure that you get good results. The basic wave technique is the easiest method. Begin at the top of your Christmas tree and string the lights around the tree, weaving the lights through the branches in a wave pattern, descending the tree as you go.
If you want to put a lot of lights on your tree, then the branch wrapping technique is the way to go. For this method of tree lighting, you will begin at the bottom of your tree. Begin near the tree trunk and wrap lights around each and every branch, out to just a few inches from the end of the branch. Wind the strand of lights back toward the trunk a couple of times so that the lights stay in place and then begin at the next adjacent branch and do the same thing. This technique takes a lot more time but when it comes to lighting a tree fully and completely, the branch wrapping technique will not disappoint!O Tannenbaum, indeed!
When you have completed the process of stringing your lights, dim the main house lights and then stand back in order to take a look at your tree. You should easily be able to see any areas that need more lights or places that may need some adjusting. Sometimes it helps if you stand back and squint at the lights a bit so that the tree looks a bit blurry. Squinting will help you to see more readily where any dark spots are located. With this technique, you can easily see where you might need to go back and move some lights around, so they are placed more evenly throughout the tree.
Whatever types of lights you use, be sure that they are UL approved. Never attach more than three strands of lights together without plugging the string of lights into a power source. For simple bulb replacement, look for bulbs that just press into the sockets without having to twist them in--this makes bulb breakage less likely.
Once you have your tree completely lit, the next step in decorating your tree is to put on any garlands you may desire. How many garlands will you need? The general rule of thumb is two strands of garland for every foot of a tree. Start draping the garland very loosely at the top of the tree and then wave the garland a little tighter as you get toward the bottom. Thinner garlands look best if you are draping them from branch to branch. Thicker garlands like ribbon or fabric, look best loosely wrapped with more spacing in between the garland strands.
Always begin putting on your ornaments by placing your favorites or most sentimental ornaments in prominent places where they will be easily viewed. Next, place your large ornaments on the tree, as these will need to be spaced evenly to create a balanced look. At this point, it's always a good idea to stand back and take a look at the tree to see how things look. Many people make the mistake of hanging ornaments only on the ends of the branches. Putting some ornaments inside the tree near the trunk will give the tree more dimension. Once you have all your ornaments in place, finish your tree off with a few specialty items as desired. These items may include decorative items such as pinecones, candy canes, and even shimmering icicles. The best part of decorating your Christmas tree is finding those special ways to make it unique and meaningful to you and your family, so don't be afraid to be creative.
"O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree! How lovely are your branches!"
Happy Decorating and Happy Holidays from your friends at Halloween Express!