Who isn’t a fan of wintry strolls down the street at Christmastime, when you can catch glimpses of beautifully dressed fir trees glowing in windows? For interiors enthusiasts, it’s one of the highlights of the festive season. If you want to join in the fun, we're here to help with this step-by-step guide to on how to decorate a Christmas tree. Read on for our holiday décor ideas for creating an enviable festive display, to be enjoyed by friends, family and neighbors alike.

A Christmas tree decorated with multi-colored ornaments and string lights sits in the corner of a cozy sitting room
A close-up of some Christmas tree branches, decorated with multi-colored ornaments

Place the Christmas Tree and Fluff the Branches

Before you haul your faithful faux fir out of storage or pick out a brand-new tree, have a plan for where in your home you’ll display it. Popular spots include the entryway, the sitting room or family room, or anywhere you have a taller, wider window from which it can be admired by those inside and out. The best places to put up a Christmas tree are where it will be most visible and accessible. If you’re picking a new tree and/or a new spot, measure your preferred space and bring the measuring tape along when you head to the nursery. Once you’ve placed your tree and securely set it in its stand, fluff its branches—this will help artificial trees look more natural and real trees healthier. 

Design Around a Theme and Color Scheme

Now it’s time to start decorating. The best way to decorate a Christmas tree is to start by choosing a theme, or at least a color scheme, as this will make decisions regarding toppers, light color temperature and ornaments easier. Do you want a green, red and gold Christmas tree to match a traditional, nostalgic style, or do you have your eye on some elegant Christmas tree decorations that would fit best with a more modern look? Though we encourage you to keep an eye out for Christmas decorating ideas and inspiration, first and foremost you should think about your personal preferences and what would look best in your home, taking into consideration any Christmas tree ornaments you already own that you might want to use.

A selection of mutli-colored glass ornaments with a marbled effect
The bottom of a Christmas tree featuring multi-colored ornaments on the branches and gifts underneath

Put On the Lights

With your Christmas tree theme in mind, pick out your lights. Choose yellow-toned lights to match a warmer color scheme or more traditional look. Cooler or white lights look great as part of a modern look or an icy, “winter wonderland” theme, while multi-colored Christmas tree lights lend a playful feel to the festive season. Whichever you choose, make sure the color of the cord matches the color of your tree, to ensure it blends in as much as possible.

When contemplating how to dress a Christmas tree, adding the lights can often be the most daunting element. To make the process as smooth as possible, we recommend starting from the outlet, partly because it’s easiest to keep track of what you’re doing when the lights are actually on. At the base of the trunk—sticking as close as possible to the center of the tree—begin to wrap the cord around the larger branches, working your way up to the top. If you have cord left over, work back towards the bottom and outwards towards the ends of the branches. Starting from the inside will give your tree a more organic, 3-dimensional look.

Start Adding Decorations

Once your lights are strung, it’s a good time to add garlands, bows, strands of beads and any other decorative elements that are larger than baubles, such as picks and sprays of berries, pinecones, foliage or icicles for a natural touch. If you’re adding a Christmas tree garland, we recommend starting from the top and winding your way down the tree, taking care not to bunch too many branches together. Gauzy or metallic ribbons, strings of dried orange slices, or the classic popcorn and cranberry combination are popular traditional garlands; make sure to avoid wrapping them too tightly around the trunk so that they’ll be seen. Alternatively, red velvet bows make a tree look especially sumptuous if you want ribbon on your Christmas tree.

Though they seem like finishing touches, it’s easiest to add tree toppers at this point before delicate baubles are hung. For the ultra-traditional, angels and stars remain popular choices for elegant Christmas tree decorations, while others prefer to “branch out” with unique Christmas tree decorating ideas, such as sunbursts, paper rosettes, white doves, fairies, gnomes or bows. As fans of mixing and matching, we like the idea of opting for a topper just because you love it, whatever your chosen theme.

A cozy white armchair sits in front of a Christmas tree, which is decorated with multi-colored ornaments and string lights.
Gifts wrapped in marble paper sit on a camel-colored velvet stool. A Christmas tree decorated with string lights sits in the background.

Hang the Ornaments

And now for the fun part, where you can really express your chosen theme: the Christmas ornaments. Those of us who haven’t collected a lifetime’s worth of Christmas tree ornaments may choose to coordinate hues with a handy multi-colored set of glass or paper designs. In our collection, you’ll find a variety of styles, textures and colors to suit your theme. For 2023, we’ve introduced our Sumi Collection, a selection of glass baubles finished with a marbled effect in a choice of vibrant shades. We also have beautiful Christmas ornaments ­in a tortoiseshell effect, finished with a suitably festive red ribbon.

If you’re wondering how many ornaments are needed for a large, 7.5-foot tree, you might look for approximately 100–150 baubles, depending on its size and whether you’d like it to look jam-packed or a bit lighter on its feet. It’s a good idea to limit yourself to three or four colors, and a variety of finishes, from shiny to sparkly to matte, to give your tree a sense of depth. Hang larger baubles closer to the inside of the tree and towards the bottom, so they don’t weigh the branches down. Place smaller baubles higher up. Then, weave in any sentimental or visually interesting ornaments you’d like to feature prominently.

Give your tree a dusting of tinsel if you wish—with recycled and plastic-free varieties now available, there’s no need to feel guilty if you’re a fan of this retro look.

Add a Christmas Tree Skirt

Finally, when you’ve finished making the rounds, cover up the stand with a festive skirt for a stylish Christmas tree look. Red and white felt makes a classic contrast with a natural green tree, but you’ll find options available for any Christmas tree decorating trend or color scheme, as well as alternatives such as wicker collars and white fabrics mimicking snow or fur.

To get a head start on decorating, explore our Holiday Edit.