Interior Sourcing: How to dress a Christmas tree like a professional
Updated: Feb 23, 2021
Firstly, there is no wrong way to dressing a Christmas tree. As well as there being no wrong or right style of decorating for Christmas, there are good point and bad points to all. If you prefer a fake Christmas tree then that is your preference, you can get very good quality ones nowadays and they are more sustainable if its the only Christmas tree you ever own. However this blog post will be focusing on real Christmas trees and giving you the tips of the trade.
1. Picking you tree
You can collect real trees from many sources such as your local supermarket, pop up stalls and even online however these trees are usually already pre-picked and packaged so you can not be completely sure what your tree will look like except the breed and height. My preference is to find a local tree farm and pick which one you would like while it's still in the ground, this way you can be sure what it will look like. The four most common breads of trees are:
The Norway Spruce - A very traditional tree type, which is full bodied and bushy because of its many branches, this suits traditional interiors
The Nordman Fir - More commonly known as the non-drop tree as it holds its needles for longer, a very popular variety with large soft green/blue needles. Its branches have more space between and suits a more modern or Scandinavian interiors.
The Blue Spruce - This tree is a good in-between of the Norway Spruce and Nordman Fir, It is a cousin of the Norway Spruce and has a medium bushiness but with a lovely blue hue to the needles.
The Serbian Fir - It looks similar to the Norway Spruce but is a very slender compact tree ideal for smaller spaces.
I, myself can spend hours looking for the perfect tree! When looking around for your perfect tree, some things you should keep in mind. Firstly, what is the space like where you are planning on putting your tree, how high is the ceiling and how much width can you allow for. Only pick a tree that you can see all angles and ask yourself, how symmetrical is it? Are there any really obvious gaps between the branches? what are the condition of the branches all the way round? Is the ratio of branches the same from the top to the bottom? The perfect tree no matter what the type should be health and green, as symmetrical as possible and with a good ratio of branches from the bottom to the top. Remember collect any off cuts to use in other parts of decor such as garlands and wreaths.
2. Caring for your tree.
This part may not be the funnest part but it is the most important. If you have picked your own Christmas tree and it is freshly cut. You must get it into a bucket of water as soon as you can before the sap has a chance the seal it. If you have bought it already cut, ask the seller to cut off 5cm or do it yourself so that the cut is fresh and unsealed, this allows the tree to continue to absorb water helping them to stay fresher for longer. Leave your Christmas tree in a bucket of water for at least 24 hours before bringing it inside, this helps the tree retain its needles and greenness.
When buying your Christmas tree stand it is important to buy a stand that can hold water and you should be watering your Christmas tree every few days. Another important thing to consider is keeping it as cool as you can so its best to not have it near a radiator or turn off any radiators that are close by. Once your Christmas is securely in its stand turn your tree slowly around and examine which is its best side, you will want to trim the branches right at the bottoms so that it is symmetrical and curves upwards nicely. You may also want to trim branches in thicker parts to help even the ratio and create a good even cone shape.
3. Decorating your tree
Before adding any baubles, the strings of lights much be added first. Your type of lights is completely your preference however I find white lights to be traditional and look really classic. To add dimension and layering to your tree, it is important to use two different size lights, I mix a string of small LED's with a string of traditional bulb lights. Wearing gloves if you have start by adding the LED lights from the bottom and working the string around the tree, gradually moving to the top. Once the lights are in place you will need to adjust them, making sure that the wiring is hidden by the branches the best you can. Add the second string the same way, always thinking about the ratio from the bottom to the top.
Once the lights are in the perfect position, you can begin decorating. If you plan on having any garland, ribbon or tinsel now is the time to drape them. Next it is time to add baubles and ornaments, start with the largest/heaviest baubles like large mercury glass balls and place these where there may be the bigger gaps between the branches and secure them closer towards the trunk of the tree. Add next the medium size baubles, spreading the colours and sizes evenly around. Add the smallest baubles last, its important to remember that the baubles should be secured to a branch strong enough to hold its weight without drooping much at all and the baubles should also hand freely not touching any other of the branches. Longer ornaments can be used to fill bigger gaps in the sparer areas the same for the smaller ones can be used in the more congested areas this will help create balance. Keep going until you are completely happy with your finished look.
4. Christmas Garlands.
Other than a Christmas tree, Garlands are a perfect way to dress fireplaces, banisters, staircases and the top of cabinets. Garlands are slightly different to Christmas trees as in they are impossible to keep looking fresh for the whole duration of Christmas so I would not advise paying for a completely natural garland. The best approach is to begin with a plain faux evergreen garland and add natural cuttings to it.
First wrap your garlands with lights if that is the look you desire, then secure your garland in its chosen place. Next collect your natural cuttings, these can be from your Christmas tree or collected from outside, your local farmers market or your local florist, look for winter evergreen plants such as different varies of Holly and Ivy, the most commonly planted varieties are cypress, pine, cedar, spruce and hemlock. Mix it up using a variety of green hues as well as silver, blues and gold hues, this will make the garlands more dramatic. After you have collected your cuttings, same as your tree, soak the stems in water overnight, if yours were bought then cut or crush the ends of the stems so they can absorb the water. Once soaked use these natural cuttings to place in the garland using florist reel wire to hold in place, don't be be frugal with your cuttings, add as much as you can to create fullness and texture. lastly add any decorative pieces you like making sure it is completely secure. The truth is cuttings will only hold its freshness for about two weeks depending on the environmental conditions. The best way to make sure your garlands stay looking fresh is to purchase a bottle of Wilt Pruf which seals the pores of the leaves and helps the plant contain its moister in its leaves and keeps it green for longer, a favorite for florists and can also work great on your Christmas tree, Click here to read application guidelines. Another option is to simply top up your cuttings once a week and discard any wilting areas.
Thanks for Reading.