Remember what I said about rules? For decorating your tree, there are none. I do, however, have some suggestions that I think you will find useful when you are decorating a Christmas tree. (Wait a minute. I just thought of one rule. If you are decorating a real Christmas tree, re-cut the stump and put the tree in water as soon as possible.) Okay, now for the suggestions:
1. START FROM THE TOP. Put the tree topper on first. You miss the dramatic moment of balancing a young child at an awkward angle as he or she tries to place the angel or star on top of a beautifully decorated tree–but if you follow my suggestion, no gets hurt. Decorating the top of the tree first allows you to get up close and personal with the tree because there are no other decorations to disturb. Once it is securely attached, you can move on to the lights.
2. PUT ON THE LIGHTS. I mentally divide the tree into triangular sections and begin stringing the lights in one of them. I start at the top of that section and take the lights into the interior of the tree and then wrap them out along a branch to the tip. Once there, I go back into the interior of the tree and follow another branch out again. I do not take the lights around and around the tree. I work one section at a time, moving in a downward direction, until I get to the bottom and then I begin at the top again, working my way down that section. As a rule of thumb, I suggest 100 lights for every foot of tree. Got a lot of time–and lights? I triple that number.
3. PUT ORNAMENTATION IN THE TREE’S INTERIOR. I particularly like to put larger, heavier ornaments and lighted pieces here.
4. ADD GARLANDS. I wrap branches with them, fold them onto themselves, drape them from one branch to another, and cluster them, hanging them from the interior of the tree. Of course, I will also sometimes drape them horizontally from one branch to another. I do not, however, obsess about trying to make sure the garlands drape evenly all around the tree.
5. ADD DELICATE ORNAMENTS. Remember, you can hang ornaments from a branch and clip others to the top of the same branch. For example, you can hang a ball from the branch and clip a flower or a bird on the top of the same branch.
6. ADD GLITTER, SNOW OR TINSEL. I add these items last for obvious reasons.