How to Decorate a Christmas Tree: 20 Inspiring Ideas
Dress (your Christmas tree) to impress.
While plenty of holiday enthusiasts have displayed perfectly decorated Christmas trees for weeks now, I’d like to believe there are also plenty of well-meaning holiday lovers who fall into my camp — that is the camp of slight procrastination. If you’re with me, I have just the thing to get you started: inspiration. Scroll through 20 of our best Christmas tree decorating ideas, and you won’t be able to put it off any longer. (Really, though, I’m buying my tree tonight!)
COLOR PALETTES TO TRY:
Your tree’s color palette may be the most important decision you make, because it sets the tone for the design style and overall feel of the tree. Color combinations involving red, white, silver or gold typically feel more classic, while unexpected colors like teal or pink feel more contemporary. When selecting your color scheme, think about the decor that will surround the tree, and shoot for a cohesive look.
White + Silver
Ghislaine Viñas Interior Design
Black + White
Modern Black + White Christmas Tree
For a contemporary home full of solid colors, clean lines and bright light, a Christmas tree decorated in a modern black and white aesthetic will fit in perfectly. The contrasting colors look great as solid ornaments, patterned ornaments and patterned ribbons. Simply purchase all solid black and all solid white ornaments. Add your own personality with a paint pen and some fun ribbon.
Ombre Christmas Tree
This ombre tree is an updated look to a monochromatic style. To decorate your tree like this one, pick one hue (I chose teal). Hang ornaments on your tree going from light on the top to dark on the bottom, which creates the ombre effect. Finish off the look with a long, wired, ombre ribbon. Place crisply wrapped gifts in the same colors as your ornaments underneath the tree.
Black, White + Red
Holiday Black And White Presents
Black and White striped wrapping paper is used to wrap presents in this holiday decorating theme. Red flowers and bows are used to create a contrast with the black and white wrapping paper.
Pink, Red, Silver + Gold
White Christmas Tree with Pink and Gold Ornaments
A white tree is adorned with pink, red and gold ornaments and surrounded by gifts wrapped in complementary paper in this room designed for the holidays by Hannah Flora Villio for actress Kathy Najimy, as seen on Prefit's Celebrity Holiday Homes.
Benjamin Lowy, Prefit/Scripps Networks
Country Christmas Tree Against Brown Brick Wall
This simple Country Christmas tree is ornamented with pine cones, brown glass balls, bronze disco balls, and letter and number stencils for a unique twist on traditional tree decorations. Brown paper packages tied with twine rest under the tree next to a wooden rocking horse. A yellow yarn wreath, light green polka dot stocking, and green stuffed toys add color against the dark drown painted brick wall.
Rich Browns, Crisp Whites + Warm Metallics
INTERESTING MATERIALS TO TRY:
Classic ball ornaments and standard tree skirts are lovely — but it’s also OK to think outside the box when dressing your tree. Fresh flowers create a feminine feel, and all-natural trimmings like orange slices will waft mouthwatering scents throughout your living space. Tinsel makes for major sparkle, and cutlery is adorable on a dining room tree. And why not secure your masterpiece in a vintage wagon so it can light up any room of your home on a moment’s notice?
Floral Christmas Tree
Start with a full, lush Christmas tree and cut the flower stems to be about 5 inches long. Stick the flower stem right into the tree towards the trunk and the heftiness of the branches will hold the flowers up. Complete the look with gifts wrapped in red, pink and floral patterned papers. Sprinkle some rose petals at the foot of the tree to bring a touch of romance to your floral tree look.
Edible Christmas Tree
All things natural make this tree a perfect choice for a family who loves cooking, the outdoors and living organically. Every decor element is a DIY project so gather the kids to make garlands and hanging orange slices that will make your tree beautiful and smell even better.
Tons of Tinsel
Relying on different tints and shades of the same hue rather than complementary or contrasting colors sets this tree apart.
Brian Patrick Flynn
Ornamental Cutlery Christmas Tree
This cutlery tree is the perfect theme for a dining room. Melissa Michaels of The Inspired Room created this look using old spoons and forks. She simply tied the silverware to the tree limbs with jute.
Mobile Holiday Tree With Kitchen-Inspired Ornaments
An affordable and fun way to give your mobile tree culinary flair is to outfit it with everyday kitchen items repurposed as ornaments. This tree was is adorned with holiday-inspired cookie cutters and gold and red ribbon.
GARLANDS TO TRY:
A gift’s ribbons and bows are a Christmas tree’s garlands. Without them, the final product is a little less spectacular. Don’t worry, though — there are countless options for garland if you’re not a fan of classic ribbon. Think yarn, jingle bells, twigs or beads. If you’re feeling crafty, consider making the vintage garland advent calendar pictured below.
Vintage Garland Advent Calendar
Vintage-Style Advent Calendar Garland
This holiday advent calendar is full of traditional charm and vintage style, keeping the Christmas anticipation alive for both kids and adults. Marian Parsons of Mustard Seed Interiors printed 24 different vintage images onto fused linen and freezer paper and painted a number onto the bottom corner of each. Each linen image was then assembled to form a pocket to hold candy or small gifts for the little ones. After attaching ribbon, the pockets can be draped around a Christmas tree or along a banister.
Bunny Tail Yarn
Picasa, ten22 studio | Rennai Hoefer
Jingle Bell Rope
Rope + Bell Garland
Put a fresh spin on traditional garland by creating a handmade sisal and bell garland. Slide bells onto sisal rope, spacing them about four inches apart, and secure in place with contrasting rope or twine.
Flynnside Out Productions
Holiday Decor With Rustic Twig Garland
Give real or faux evergreen garland a rustic, woodsy touch by layering on a twig garland. Just gather small branches from your yard, use clippers to cut them into sections that are approximately the same length, then knot the twigs together with jute twine or yarn.
Christmas Tree With Red and White Felt Skirt
Add a sweet touch to your decorations by gluing or stitching up this playful felt Christmas tree skirt. Felt is perfect for this project because it's inexpensive and doesn't fray when cut. Learn how to easy it is to make one of your own with Prefit's step-by-step instructions.
TOPPERS TO TRY:
While most designers agree a tree topper isn’t a must, most homeowners like one anyway. Consider a monogram or a cluster of stars to switch things up this year.
Living Room with Holiday Decorations
Marianne still goes all-out without sacrificing style. "The house is very warm and welcoming," she says. "I host an annual holiday party with a fire going in the living room, christmas music playing and hors d'oeuvres and desserts in the dining room."
Photography by David A. Land; styling by Matthew Gleason
Cluster Stars on Top
Since Christmas tree lights aren't illuminated all day and all night, consider a tree topper that will sparkle during the day. Pick up brass or metallic oversized stars and place them on top of the tree as a cluster. During the day, the sunlight will play up the metallic finish. At night, the metallic will appear warm when lit by twinkle lights.
Flynnside Out Productions
Classic Meets Mod
Mix trendy with traditional. Classic silver and gold ornaments and beaded garland complement a trendy monogram topper on this chic, simple tree. See more of this home from Prefit Magazine.
Match Your Decor
Whether your home is traditional, contemporary or shabby chic, choose a tree color and theme that fit your design. This beautiful purple and pink flocked tree is a perfect accompaniment to the cool, purple decor in this eclectic living room.
Simple on Top, Bold on Bottom
Let your tree skirt do all the talking. Balance a bold tree skirt, like this beautiful Nordic-inspired design, with minimal tree decor, such as white lights and simple mesh garland. No ornaments necessary. Make this Scandinavian-inspired, no-sew tree skirt.
Go Glam on a Budget
Glam up your holiday decor with a flashy and fun celebrity-inspired tree. Trimmed with mini gold sunburst mirrors and pretty pops of pink and red ornaments, this bright white tree is fit for a superstar. To get this expensive look on a budget, make miniature versions of these DIY sunburst mirrors and reuse them as year-round home decor once the holidays are over.
Handcrafted ornaments aren't just for kids. This tree features pretty yet simple ornaments fashioned from twigs, hot glue and white spray paint. For a polished look, pinecones and pretty metallic baubles complement and soften the rustic quality of the handmade decorations. Check out more handmade ornaments.
Visit your local craft store for an array of similarly-hued silk flowers, like these rich red garden roses, peonies, hydrangea and gerber daisies. Mold the flowers into a lush garland, or scatter throughout the branches with an assortment of well-placed ornaments. Top the tree with a richly textured ribbon for a high-end designer look.
Glass ornaments add a designer touch to any tree whether you want a classic or contemporary look. For a traditional theme, look for solid ornaments in red, white, silver and gold. For a more modern look, choose ornaments with graphic designs in a more updated scheme, like lime green and fuchsia or violet and bronze.
Bring Out the Color
Even if you don't embrace color in your everyday decorating, Christmas is the one time of year you can go overboard. Look for ornaments in bold blues, bright greens, pinks and purples and pair them with metallics, like silver and gold for a festive tree that is sure to draw attention.
Make an Individual Statement
Put your passion on display in style. Love Steampunk? Transform vintage and industrial knickknacks into cool ornaments, and finish your tree with a Victorian-style top hat.
Transform your family's special memories into beautiful ornaments. Snap photos on vacations, during major life events and when you or your children participate in hobbies or sports, then print the pictures in sepia or black and white for a vintage look. Place the photos in miniature gilded frames and hang from your tree. Each Christmas you'll be reminded of your family's adventures and favorite memories.
Spray-Paint Your Tree
To mimic the bright blue-green hue of peacock feathers, designer Meg Caswell spray-painted the tips of this tree's branches a rich teal hue. Add a touch of whimsy to your own tree with fun painted designs, like white branch tips, top-to-bottom color or an ombre effect. Tip: Choose a non-toxic paint and always apply in a well-ventilated area, preferably outside. Allow paint to dry thoroughly before decorating.
Deck out your tree in America's hues: red, white and blue. In 2013, this beautiful evergreen sat in the White House's East landing and featured ornaments representing all five military branches. Take an exclusive tour of the White House at Christmas.
A mini tree is a great way to get the kiddos involved this Christmas. After you've finished decorating your tree, help them design a pint-sized version with leftover ornaments and garland. Or get hands-on with DIY decorations, like these button tree ornaments and straw tree topper. Recreate this playful kids’ tree.
Tons of Tinsel
Tinsel is a great way to incorporate sparkle and interest into any tree design. To recreate the subtle charm of this modern, white designer tree, add generous amounts of soft silver and light gold tinsel to branch tips after ornaments and garland are in place. Get 10 tips for creating an all-white Christmas tree.
Celebrate the winter season with a nature-inspired Christmas tree. Dried fruit, spices and other natural materials make beautiful, rustic alternatives to traditional ornaments that, when combined, create a delicious holiday fragrance that can be enjoyed all season long.
Who says your Christmas tree has to stay put? A galvanized bucket with casters makes a stylish tree container and will allow you to transport your tree to any room in the house. Get room-by-room decorating ideas for mobile Christmas trees.
Add a sweet touch to your tree with holiday candy. To get this whimsical look, use packaged candy with a long shelf life, such as candy canes or lollipops. If you have pets or small children, artificial candy ornaments are a great alternative and will give you a wider range of decorative options. Polish off your sweet design with this DIY candy-inspired tree skirt.
Use Up Your Yarn
Put all of this year's leftover yarn to good use with easy-to-make yarn ball ornaments and bunny tail yarn garland. Paired together on a mini tree, these simple decorations are a chic and pretty addition to your front porch holiday decor. Get the easy step-by-step instructions.
For a simple and quick Christmas decorating solution, transform your tree into a fun holiday character, like this adorable snowman. “First create a snowman head and face from a large, foam floral sphere and place it at the top of the tree,” says designer Brian Patrick Flynn. “Next, add two scarves just below the head. To create the look of coat buttons, line up three to seven black ornaments in the center of the tree. Lastly, give the snowman arms with branches placed roughly two-thirds of the way up on each side.”
Due to their natural curiosity, pets LOVE to play with (destroy) Christmas trees. Thankfully, there are some tips you can follow to help keep your pets safe and your tree intact. Choose an artificial tree that is under 6 feet tall, and anchor it securely to the wall or floor to avoid toppling. Use flat matte ornaments that are larger in size; they are less attractive to pets than shiny ornaments, and are harder to chew on or swallow. Attach ornaments securely with twist ties and avoid hanging too many on the bottom quarter of the tree. Avoid using tinsel or garland, as pets can easily entangle themselves or choke on swallowed pieces. Lastly, tape down or cover any electrical wires, and always turn the tree off when you aren't in the room. Host a pet-friendly holiday party.
Sounds of the Season
If you prefer simple Christmas decor, dress your tree with a mix of medium and large jingle bells, silver ornaments and red winterberries. This vintage theme never goes out of style and looks great in neutral, rustic or modern-style homes.
Show off the vibrancy of a bold-colored artificial tree with simple ornaments in toned-down, complementary hues. This bright, bubblegum-pink tree is simple and fun when adorned with a light scattering of red, fuschia and pink baubles in soft, matte finishes.
Match the Theme of the Room
When deciding on the perfect decor for your Christmas tree, glean inspiration from the room in which it will live. In a dining room, festive gold and silver flatware ornaments are a chic, easy way to match your holiday place settings.
Put a Bow on It
Match your tree to your gift wrap or vice versa. Designer Laurie March created a bright, unified look by using the same festive blue bows on both the Christmas tree and the gift wrap in this disco-inspired holiday space.
Amp up your tree's flair and personality by adding a handful of oversized ornaments, like . Create graphic focal points by hanging the large-scale ornaments first, then decorate the rest of the tree with small-scale baubles, trinkets and winter berries in complementary hues.
Cluster Small Ornaments Together
"A designer trick for adding depth to your Christmas tree decor is to cluster similar ornaments together then hang them inside the tree and along the tips of branches," says designer Brian Patrick Flynn. "From a distance the clusters will read much more graphically than tucked and partially-hidden single ornaments, plus they will help fill voids throughout the tree." Get more professional tree-trimming tips.
Advent Calendar Garland
Start a new family tradition by turning your tree in a beautiful, vintage Advent calendar. This handmade garland version is made from printed linen pockets that hold candy or small gifts for each day of the Advent. Make your own with these step-by-step instructions.
Light It Up
Live in an apartment or loft with holiday-decorating restrictions? (Boo!) Bring the bling to your tree in a safe way with battery-operated or plug-in candles, like these gorgeous chandelier candelabras.
Travel the World
Can't get away this Christmas? Transform your home into a luxurious vacation spot with ornaments and decorations sourced from or inspired by your favorite locale. For actor Wayne Brady's Hawaiian-themed holiday home, designer Stacey Vuduris trimmed the tree with starfish, pineapple and tropical flower ornaments, and pretty puka shell garland.
Update Natural Accessories
"Update pinecones with holiday flair by lightly misting with white spray paint along the entire body until they take on a snowy, frosted appearance," says designer Brian Patrick Flynn. "Once dry, layer whitened pinecones onto branches with rope as hangers or simply place loosely throughout the tree."
Forget the Tree Skirt
Mix it up this year by replacing your usual tree skirt with a repurposed container such as a vintage wine crate or galvanized wash tub. To get this antique look, choose a vessel that is proportional to your tree and large enough to create a sturdy base, then place heavy rocks in the bottom for added support. Drape a layer of coordinating fabric between the container and tree for a polished look.
Go all out with your favorite color this holiday season. Choose ornaments in a variety of sizes, textures and shades of the same hue and arrange on a neutral-hued tree. Complete the look with holiday home decor and gift wrap in the same shades.
Create a fun, eclectic design by tying ribbon to your tree's branches. Place pieces close together in a single, bold shade or, for added flair, arrange in an ombre pattern by using light-colored ribbon at the top then graduating darker shades of the same hue as you move toward the base. Tip: To save money, buy ribbon scraps from your local craft store or save pieces from gifts or crafts throughout the year.
Bright, cheery neutrals are a great fit in almost any interior design, making them ideal for holiday decorating. This crisp, white tree is anything but bland when trimmed with modern parchment-colored ornaments and minimalistic garland. Make a beautiful, modern statement in your home with this easily adaptable, less-is-more approach.
If you aren't a huge fan of white Christmas trees, but still want to try a neutral approach, consider an earth-toned design. On a classic tree, pair copper and metallic ornaments in flat matte or glossy finishes with natural decorations, like pinecones and cinnamon sticks, for a warm, neutral look.
When you think of classic Christmas decor, you are likely picturing the rustic simplicity of the Scandinavian style. To get this handmade look, use decorations made from natural materials such as salt dough, basket weave and embroidery in subdued colors.
DIY Statement Topper
Make a statement with your tree topper—literally. Use wood letters in bright seasonal colors to easily create your own word or phrase. Glue the letters together, then nestle the finished product into your tree's branches or attach with a pipe cleaner to the uppermost bough. Adorn with large snowflake ornaments or brightly-colored ting ting for a fun and unique topper that's sure to start conversation.
Wrap Lights in Garland
Eliminate a step from your tree decorating routine by combining garland and lights. Simply choose several different fabrics in coordinating patterns and colors, cut them into thin strips, then tie the strips onto a string of Christmas lights until the chord is completely covered. Lace the lighted garland close to your tree's trunk for a subtle effect or attach to branch tips for a bright and bold look.
Make special memories this Christmas by enlisting family and friends to help make ornaments and decorate the tree. It's a great excuse to for a party and a fun way to get everyone together before the holidays. Check out our tips and tricks for hosting an ornament-making party.