Designer Christmas Tree in 5 Easy Steps

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on

Want to have a “magazine worthy” Christmas tree?

In order to decorate a Christmas tree like a pro, begin by breaking down the tree into five components and pay special attention to each: the lights, tree topper, garland, ornaments, and what’s under the tree. However, you can still have a great designer look by focusing on just the tree topper and ornaments. 

Start with the lights and my recommendation, don’t skimp. You should have one string of 100 lights for every foot of tree height. In other words, if your tree stands seven feet tall, place seven strings on your tree. 

Then, think outside the typical box and replace the angel or star atop your tree this year. Try a floral arrangement with silk or dried flowers, greenery, or even feathers and painted twigs adorned with a silky, plaid flannel, or burlap ribbon with cascading curls. Or maybe a giant bowl with long tails or a snowman’s black top hat, large bells, a teddy bear, or gnome at the top. A quick look on Pinterest made me smile to find other ideas including a globe, white antlers, giant snowflake, faux gingerbread house, a red cardinal, Santa cap, or upside-down elf legs.

Next, add the garland. This might surprise you because many people place this later after ornaments. The garland can be ribbon, paper (one of my favorites over the years was accordion-folded paper nutcrackers garland), or beads of crystal or wood. Personally, I prefer bows over garland and my tree has simple red plaid single bows alongside multi-strand thin white ribbon bows with eight-inch tails. 

More is more when it comes to ornaments and I use this term in the broadest sense.  If you like the look of traditional ornaments, add more of them. Or switch it up by adorning your tree with Christmas stockings, cards, photos, or a thematic or color-coordinated look. Add oversized letters with your monogram or spell out short words like “joy” or “noel.” Or sprinkle fake snow on the branches, pinecones, and floral pics to get that designer look. 

Finally, under the tree, choose an unusual tree skirt with your favorite blanket, afghan, quilt, decorator fabric, piece of burlap, or a couple furry rugs. Pepper in existing dolls, toy trucks, train set, or Christmas village with your wrapped gifts. Or consider putting the gifts in decorative boxes or large rattan baskets for a change. 

So put on the holiday tunes, pour yourself a tall glass of eggnog, reminisce where you bought or who gifted you the special ornaments, and have fun decorating your designer tree. 

Barbara Graceffa owns Secretary of the Interior in Quincy, MA offering creative solutions at reasonable rates. Learn more about her services, workshops and quilt shows at, and follow her on Facebook and Instagram @secretaryinteriordecorating. New clients can reach her at 617.921.6033.

By Barbara Graceffa

Barbara Graceffa, CEO of Secretary of the Interior, serves decorating clients; assists with professional organizing, home staging and moving assistance; teaches on these subjects; and delivers quilt lectures and trunk shows.

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