One, two, time to deck up the tree...

One, two, time to deck up the tree...

Christmas is round the corner and Natasha Menezes offers tips on how to do up your X’mas tree with lights, garlands and other decorations.

Christmas is here and so are the gifts, wine, sweet banter and caroling. Religious or not, celebrating a festival is always therapeutic. Imagine the streets lit up with rich hues of red, green and gold or passing houses that hold gigantic trees decorated with lights, ornaments or garlands.

Christmas tree decoration is an age-old tradition among Christian families but with the age of modern customs and spiritualism, it is slowly transcending various belief systems, age and race.

Traditional Christmas decorations included homemade souvenirs whereas new-age ones use a mix of bright lights, bling and a lot of spice. Amidst all the festivities involved during Christmas season, the joy of decorating a Christmas tree is by far the highlight of the celebrations. So why not make this art of tree decorating a little more stylish this season? Here are guidelines to achieve just that!

Artificial Christmas trees come in standard sizes of 4 feet, 6 feet, 7 feet and above. Depending on the space you have in your room, buy a size that will enhance the area but without making it look cluttered.

Ensure that your tree has the right amount of green foliage and take time out to carefully open out all the branches before you start decorating.

You can showcase your Christmas tree in different places around the house; outdoor if you have a bright and airy home; in the centre of the living room which is the most preferred choice for a standard sized home; in the corner of the room if space is a constraint or on a tabletop if you decide to use a miniature tree.

First of all make a list of the materials you need. Typically there are three kinds of materials used for tree decoration—lights, garlands and ornaments.

It is always a good idea to colour co-ordinate your Christmas tree lights, glass bulb ornaments and garlands. Classic colour shades include green with red, gold with red, red with blue, blue with silver or silver with gold.

Next decide your style of tree decoration. There are three commonly used styles for decorating a Christmas tree. Depending on your budget and personal style, you could choose between themes like royal and Victorian, vintage and cottage or natural and rustic.

Royal and Victorian: The main colours of this theme include red and gold. Use a wire-edged garland alongside trims of cherubs and roses to line the tree. Choose ornaments and gift wraps in red and gold colour to bring out exuberance.

Vintage and cottage: Shades of brown are the theme of this style.Use gingham ribbon and bows alongside old-fashioned coloured lights or bubble lights to bring out the country look. Choose ornaments like gingerbread-men and gift wraps in brown colour for that vintage feel.

Natural and rustic: Darker shades of brown and purple serve the mood of this theme. Natural twigs can be used as garlands alongside dried fruits and moss.   Ornaments made of naturally dried fruits like orange and apple slices will give a rustic and natural feel.

The final step is the actual tree decoration. Below is a simple three-step guide to a perfect Christmas tree.

Tree lighting

First decide the type of bulb you wish to use. Incandescent, mini string lights are standard and inexpensive and they come in various shapes and colours. White lights act as spotlights to highlight tree ornaments.

The basic count for tree lighting is 100 lights to 1.5 feet of tree. So a 6-ft-tall tree would require at least 400 lights at the minimum. The most commonly used technique for stringing lights around a tree is the weave technique. Begin weaving the lights from the top to bottom, covering spaces at the rear of the branches as well.

Garlands

Christmas garlands come in varied shapes and sizes to suit individual tastes and preferences. Depending on the style of tree, the garland could be elegant, vintage or natural.

Tinsel garlands are the most preferred choice for tree decoration. It brings out a radiating effect from the reflection of light in the room as well as on the tree. For a six feet of Christmas tree height use 24 feet of garland.

The most commonly used technique for draping a garland is by using big swoops and overlaps for a casual look or positioning the garland evenly for a formal look. Begin at the top of the tree and work your way down in a weave or vertical fashion.

Decorating with ornaments

The number of ornaments depend on the size of tree and size of ornaments as well as how much of the tree you plan on filling up.

First add some tree toppers like stars and angels. Adding toppers at the start has advantages of avoiding breakage of other ornaments as well as toppling of your fully decorated tree. You can also use bows, feathers of flowers as toppers.

Separate your ornaments by shape and size before you start decorating. First hang the large ones, then move on to the medium-sized ones and finally the small ones.

Remember to fill up the tree at empty spaces and spread different sized ornaments evenly on the tree. Use different and interesting shapes and styles for ornaments.

Dried fruits and flowers, nests, twigs and other green materials create a natural look.
The last stage in Christmas tree decoration is the tree skirt. A tree skirt will help camouflage the tree stand and also create volume for adding gifts around it. Now that you have a perfect Christmas tree, sit back and enjoy the visual treat!

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