It’s getting to be that time of year when people start to think about where they are going to buy the Christmas tree. People come to the store and say to me “Jamie could you just wrap up the one on the floor and send it home to me”? We often do just that but it can be expensive and isn’t quite the same as filling a tree with your own memories.
Pick the Right Spot
Find a really great corner of the room and if you need to, move some of the furniture out to make room for the tree.
Pick the Right Time
If possible find a real tree but remember when you’re buying a real tree to think in terms of twenty five day. In general, trees are cut approximately twenty five days before they get on a truck, are shipped for about twenty five days before they get to the store and finally they’re going to last you about twenty five days. Think about how long you want to have the tree and back up twenty five days from that, and you should have a perfectly happy tree. You should also remember that the tree likes to sleep about as much as you do, so give those needles a break and have the lights off about twelve hours a day
A Real or Artificial Tree?
The next question is going to be real or artificial. There are a few good reasons for a real tree, the biggest of which is smell. That coupled with the holiday experience of going to buy the tree and the natural shape a real tree gives you. Artificial trees are often a perfect shape and look artificial because of that. I know that some people are allergic to the real trees, if that is the case then artificial is a great way to go. Artificial Christmas trees also have the advantage of having bendable branches and you can get them pre lighted. You do have to splurge a bit the first year you get it. A good one will run you about six hundred dollars. Look for one that is pre lighted and make sure that those lights connect in sections as opposed to continuous.
The Tree Trimming Kit
Create a “tree trimming kit”. I have one that I use every year. With the number of trees that have to be done to get the stores it’s completely worth the effort to have all things together. Keep it with the Christmas decor boxes. The kit should have scissor, pliers an extension cord, hot glue gun, extra tree hooks (to keep lights in place and for heavier ornaments, green floral tape, floral wire and a mini light tester for about twelve dollars. With any string of mini lights, a light tester comes in very handy.
Decorating the Christmas Tree
From this point on it’s basically five steps to getting the tree done and get onto the eggnog: Lights, ribbon and rope, ornament, special features and fillers. You should likely also have some music and friends and make the process a fun time like we used to do out east.
You need to make sure that you have approximately one hundred lights per linear foot of tree. I really like to mix two kinds of bulbs together and create a layered affect with large and small bulbs. There are Edison bulbs for the C7 socket which is the larger indoor Christmas light socket from the 50 and 60s. Bigger balls, Edison, or coloured vintage fixtures layered with the mini lights can look spectacular, and both light sources are counted in the one hundred light count. Make sure you go into the tree as well as sitting the lights on the exterior of the branches. It will give the tree depth and help make the balls sparkle. The older bulbs burn hotter so you can understand why the rule is to have your tree unplugged for twelve hours a day.
Next is ribbon and rope. I like to use something about 3 inches wide to really get some impact. Start near the top and use the floral wire to secure the top of the ribbon inside the tree. Wrap around the tree with about one foot between each pass around. Here you can use the same floral wire to secure it to the tree. Follow that with some rope. The rope can be anything from strings of popcorn, to twisted silver rope raw hemp to white rope that you might use to secure a boat. Again tuck the rope into the top and bottom of the tree so you don’t know where it starts and stops.
Now decide what you want as a colour scheme for the ornaments from multi coloured balls, to monochromatic. There is no right or wrong here. Try to hang the balls on every third of the tree so that they are well spread out. The general rule is ten to twelve ornaments per foot of tree. I like to hang the balls in groups of two to make more visual impact on the tree. If the hangers pull out of the ornaments you’ve got the hot glue gun to repair it. Tuck the larger ornaments into the branches as well and if there is too much space in the natural tree then you can use the floral tape to secure the branches together to fill that in. It’s best to start with the larger ornaments and work your way back to the smaller ones.
Next use the filler that will fill in the open spaces in the tree. Here you have to think outside of the box and use old school wooden ribbon spools, reclaimed metal toy cars, over sized reindeer or Santa’s. A more adult tree might have small wine glasses or martini glasses wired into the tree as well. You can also buy or make bows, tree picks, feathers etc. Let you mind run wild here. You really want to have at least three of anything you select to create a real impact. When you have completed that you’re ready for fillers.
Fillers are things like icicles, snow, angel hair and the like. I really like the idea of snow. We have theatrical snow which is made from recycled plastic water bottles and a half a pound of that will create something pretty realistic for the tree. I like icicles but generally by the time you get to fillers you want the process to be over and the snow is a fun “throw it on” process. Clean up the floor, add the skirt and move on to the eggnog and the friends.
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