How to Decorate a Christmas Tree Like a Professional


Time to read 7 min

How to Decorate a Christmas Tree Like a Professional

Decking the halls is always easier said than done. There are a few tips and tricks we'd love to share to help get your tree looking like it was created by Santa's elves! Most of the items we put on a tree are pretty standard: lights, ornaments, ribbons, and florals. What's important is your starting materials and how you use them. Below, we've outlined how to decorate a tree like a professional in four simple steps.

Start with a Good Base: The Tree and Lights

We carry a variety of artificial tree styles that are very lush and life-like ranging from 6’ to 15’ in height. When selecting a tree, it’s important to think about the footprint and where it is going to be placed. For example, if you are planning to put the tree in the corner, then you would likely enjoy our Monarch Tree. The Monarch Tree provides great height, but has a slimmer silhouette, making it great fit tight spaces.  The Mountain Pike, on the other hand, is a little wide at the base, but it is on a rolling stand so it can easily be relocated. This can be helpful if you want to move the tree in and out of meeting spaces or banquet halls. You should also consider the look and style you prefer: our Calgary Tree has pine cones, while our Noble Fir has a more majestic look with longer branch indexing. We even have a popular flocked option with our Spruce Snow Capped Tree!

Artificial trees provide the internal and branch support you’ll need for decorations. They are also pre-lit, which means you will need less prep-time. Dekra-Lite trees come pre-lit with energy-efficient warm white LED lighting, but you can customize any way you'd like! Cool white lighting is becoming more popular, but some people still prefer multi-colored lights from childhood. The best thing about Christmas trees is that they are unique to everyone, so it's perfectly okay to mix colors and styles.

A trend we are seeing a lot of is using globe lighting with mini-lights for a trendy, eclectic look. For lobby trees and focal points, we often suggest twinkle lights so there is movement in the tree - it’s a small upgrade, but it's always worth it. We’re also starting to bring in new trees with Instant Power Technology (IPT), where the electrical is in the core of the tree. This creates a cleaner look by eliminating the need for multiple power cords.

Regardless of which tree and lighting you decide on, you’ll want to make sure you start with the best base possible. This means fluffing and fanning out tree branches and lighting. Most of our trees have a special memory wire in the branching which allows for this easy set-up. The idea is to make the tree look as full as possible by bending and moving the branches into place. Always take a step back to assess your work and to make sure you have filled in all the gaps. You’ll want to do this step with the tree plugged in so you can fix any dark spots.

Decisions, Decisions: Selecting a Color Palette or Theme

Deciding on a theme is often the hardest part of decorating a tree. But professionally decorated trees always have a theme- even if it’s just in color.

Do you prefer a traditional color palette, or are you drawn to the more modern styles? 

Do you like stars over snowflakes?

We usually start our design process with a single color or a set of colors that we want to highlight. The color palette can come from anywhere. They can include traditional Christmas colors, or the colors already found in the room so the tree naturally becomes a focal point. The most traditional color palettes are the classic red, green, and gold as well as the elegant white and silver. Both are warm and inviting, but if you enjoy color try a bright and fun jewel tone comprised of magenta, turquoise, green, purple, and orange. If you love a modern look and feel, try a monochromatic tree such as all red with pops of burgundy or all gold.

Once you have a color palette, you can start to think about the types of decorations you want to add to the tree. These can be traditional ornaments you’re drawn to by the shape and finish or actual themed elements. Dekra-Lite has created some very custom tree décor including a hockey-themed tree that used real hockey sticks and a photography tree that utilized real cameras and authentic polaroids. Every year we create hundreds of different trees based on one element such as a star or snowflake. You’ll want a variety of textures, shapes, and finishes to really bring the tree to life.

If you have a color palette but can’t think of what to include think of a design style you like and bring it into the tree. If you love winter vacations up at a cabin perhaps your tree is a classic red, green and gold with rustic elements like tin bells, burlap bows, and birch sticks. When you decorate a tree, the possibilities are endless. The key takeaway is to have a well thought out plan that turns into a theme!

Hang Time: Placing the Décor

Now that you have a base and theme to work with, you can just put everything on the tree and walk away, right? 


How you place your decorations on a tree is essential. Start with the base ornaments. These are usually standard rounds. Next, you can add in a highlight color to set the stage for your bolder or more special decorations. After you complete a one-color base, go back through and do it again using different colors and different sized ornaments, use larger ornaments to fill in spaces and smaller ones at the top to make the tree appear balanced.  If you have a live tree or a tree with a lot of space in between the branches, don’t forget to place some ornaments near the core to create layers and depth. Also, make sure the tree is plugged in as you go and to take a step back as you work to assess everything.

Once it feels like a Christmas tree with ornaments, the real fun begins! After that initial base, you can start to place the specialty décor. This often includes glass ornaments, items with glitter, and mirrored elements, ribbon, floral elements and decorative picks which include things like branches, twigs, berries of fanciful pearls, glittered or jeweled elements.

Start by making sure all of the designer ornaments are strategically placed so they can be easily viewed and enjoyed. Once all of the ornaments are hung, move on to the floral and again strategically place these elements where there is cohesive coverage throughout. The floral elements you use will depend on your theme, but the more common are poinsettias, poppies, and roses. For a professional-looking tree, our experts always add floral and ribbon. You can place it cascading down the tree or spiraling up a tree. You can even use different-sized bows on the tree the same way you would add ornaments.

Decorative picks are added last. This allows you to place them evenly around the tree. Usually, the picks add the glitz and glam to the tree. Although ribbon helps break up the cone shape of a traditional tree, the picks also play a big role as they are seen sticking out of the tree.

Not sure if you have the time or patience to place everything in layers?

Try creating clusters before you begin decorating. Bundle up the floral, decorative picks, and ribbons creating a cluster with visual appeal. This works best for pieces that are either very cohesive or very contrasting.

The Final Flourish: Adding the Finishing Touches

Review your work from every angle and more décor, lighting, and branches as needed. If you have clip-on décor or tinsel you want to drape, you’d do it during this stage. After you decide that you are thrilled with the composition, you can move on to the final step: adding a topper. Every tree needs a topper. Today, there are more options than just a star. Although the star is classic, you may want to consider a contemporary look. For example, you can create a burst of berries of glittered picks at the top or use a stylish bow.  The key is to make sure it’s cohesive and proportional to the height and elements on the tree. You can even use a large decorative element that plays into your theme – remember that hockey tree with actual hockey sticks we created? The topper on that tree was a goalie light – a perfectly themed topper!

One more key aspect of a professionally decorated tree is the base. Whether you utilize a tree skirt, fabric, the more modern tree collars or nothing at all the most important part of a themed tree are the themed gifts below! Just as you would select ornaments in different colors and textures, you’ll want to select wrapping paper and coordinated ribbon in different patterns and colors. You’ll strategically place and stack the gifts to highlight the wrapping and ribbon and create a base that pulls your eye up.

Creating a beautiful, professional-looking tree takes more thought and time than you'd think, but the end results are always worth the effort. This is especially true when you see others stop by to take a selfie!

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3102 W Alton Ave Santa Ana, CA 92704

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