How To Decorate A Christmas Tree Step By Step Guide

how to decorate a Christmas tree

This how to decorate a Christmas tree step by step guide will have you creating a professional looking Christmas tree in no time! 

Decorating a Christmas tree is arguably one of the best things about the festive season, and a cornerstone of our homes during the Christmas period.

Those twinkly lights that ignite warmth and happiness, and the baubles that hold so many memories. But what’s the best way to get started to deliver a finish professionals would be in awe of, and of course, will bring in those Instagram likes?!

So, grab your loved ones, a real or artificial tree, lights, and a box full of baubles to get started and learn the art of decorating Christmas trees

1. Choose A Christmas Tree Skirt

Once you have decided on a real or artificial Christmas tree, the first step is choosing a suitable Christmas tree stand that will fit with your chosen tree, and ground it.

It’s somewhat of a necessity for a Christmas tree as you don’t want the plastic stand of an artificial tree exposed. Choose something that does tie in with the colour scheme of the decorations, but do match it with your interior fittings for a cohesive feel.

If you feature brass heavily in your interior hardware, opt for a beautiful brass finish tree stand as it will tie the room together.

Rattan is a hugely popular choice for Christmas tree stands in 2022. They lend a rustic feel to the tree for that natural look and they add a more subtle approach to the finished look of the tree. 

If you don’t have the room you can use a Christmas tree skirt instead which tends to be a much more affordable option and they’re available in a huge range of styles. A fur style tree skirt is perfect for delivering a Scandi style feel with your tree.

This year I’ve opted for this slate grey willow tree skirt*, it’s perfect for adding definition to the base of the tree, and it hides a multitude of sins!

slate grey Christmas tree skirt

2. Setup Your Tree & Fluff The Branches

If you have an artificial tree, it’s time to get it out of the box and get it setup. If you have opted for a stand alone tree skirt like a rattan or metal based one, this needs to be in place as you start setting the tree up.

Even the most real looking artificial Christmas tree needs a little helping hand. Once the tree has been set up it will need to be gently fluffed up on the branches and they’ll need to be opened out to make it look more natural, and full. A great tip is to bend the branches up slightly on the end as this gives it a more real, authentic look. 

If the tree still looks sparse and does not give the desired look, there are ways to make the Christmas tree look more real. One hack is to buy a garland with the same colour match and intertwine it around the branches, just like you would with tinsel. This way it makes the tree look fuller, and fluffier.

When it comes to real Christmas trees, they tend to need a day once in place for the branches to slightly drop that gives it that beautiful full, real look. If you do want to do some fluffing with the branches, always wear gloves to do so as they can be notoriously prickly!

how to decorate a Christmas tree

3. Add The Lights

A Christmas tree without lights is like Paris without the Eiffel tower, it is what makes the Christmas tree so cosy, warming and inviting.

If you’ve got a pre-lit tree you can skip this part! If it’s your first year dressing a tree or you’re on the hunt for some new lights, it’s worth considering what style you want. Christmas tree lights are available in a range of different colours, and their colour temperatures.

If you’re looking for a set of classic lights, gold, warm white lights are a very popular choice that lends a timeless look to a tree. 

Multi-coloured lights are fine if that’s the look you’re trying to achieve, but you don’t want it to clash with your decorations, or home interiors. 

For a 7ft tree, 300+ lights is the perfect amount, we have 380 for our 7ft tree, but perhaps if you like things ultra sparkly then you could opt for even more lights. 

Before you start to fit them, switch them on to check that all the bulbs work, and you’re good to go. Having them lit whilst you’re fitting them will lead the way in helping you to drape them too.

Start with the end of the string of lights at the top of the tree, you want to drape these gently over the branches working from right to left, working all the way around the tree, from top to bottom. If the back of the tree is on view you definitely don’t want to be missing out by not lighting the back of the tree too!

how to decorate a Christmas tree

4. Top The Tree With A Tree Topper

No Christmas tree is complete without a beautiful topper. In fact it can be added to the top of the tree before or after the decorating has been completed. 

Opt for something traditional like a beautiful star or angel, or add a modern twist with a beautiful, oversized bow.

For a cohesive feel throughout the tree, try to tonally match your topper with other colours that run throughout your decorations. 

5. Pick A Colour Scheme

This isn’t mandatory, because when it comes to decorating a Christmas tree it’s highly personal. But from a styling perspective, if you do want a professional looking tree then always pick a colour scheme.

Sticking to a colour scheme will keep the tree looking cohesive, it will work with your interiors and it will look perfectly stylised and well balanced.

Some popular colour schemes for trees are;

  • Red and gold
  • Red and green
  • Bronze
  • White & silver
  • Sage green & gold (popular for 2022!)

6. Start Decorating With The Big Baubles

It’s always good practice to start decorating your tree with the biggest baubles to give you an idea of the proportions, and it creates a great base to start building from.

If you’re decorating a 6-7ft tree, just 8-10 big baubles is all you need. These can all be of the same colour if you want to play it safe, but mixing a couple of colours together will add interest and depth to the tree.

This year I opted for a beautiful pack of luxe red and gold baubles from Very, so affordable and they add such an elegance to the tree. 

how to decorate a Christmas tree

7. A Little Bit Of Kitsch Is Good!

Tonally decorating is great, but where’s the fun? The thing I love most about decorating a tree is the memories they unload as you unbox them from the following year. 

Decorations collected from trips abroad, gifts from friends and in memory of loved ones. It’s these decorations that provide personal sentiment and are so much more than just decorations, it helps to create a magical moment for you and your family every year.

Anything goes when it comes to your Christmas tree! I have a real mix of beautifully styled baubles to highly sentimental decorations. I love this decoration we got before we picked Papi up last year. I can’t believe it’s already our second Christmas with him this year!

chów chów Christmas decoration

8. Add Ribbons & Sprigs

For a more rustic style tree you may want to add some ribbons and sprigs to the end of the branches. 

Opt for a ribbon which features one of the dominant colours of the tree to avoid clashing. You only need to do this sparingly throughout the tree to avoid overloading it. 

Faux foliage is perfect for adding to branches and can be wrapped around with wire or cable ties. You could add things like cinnamon sticks, pine cones, firs with berries. You can pick all of this up from a number of craft stores and home stores online.

9. It’s Trial & Error

Finally, it’s trial and error when it comes to decorating a tree. It reminds me of shelf styling, you never nail it on your first attempt.

It’s always good practice to start off with more than you need to decorate the tree, you can then spend time adding, taking a look and subtracting until you get the desired look.

You may spend a couple of days fluffing branches and spotting bare gaps, but that’s just part of the process in perfecting a tree. Professionals do it too!

You can then sit back and enjoy the soft twinkle of your perfectly executed Christmas tree throughout the festive period.

how to decorate a Christmas tree

Christmas Tree Details:

7ft Sherwood Real Look Full Christmas Tree* – Very

Set of 380 Sparkle Christmas Lights* – Warm White – Very

Gold Light Up Tree Topper* – Very

Decorating a Christmas tree is just part of the beautiful traditions that we enjoy every year. This is the first year I have opted for an artificial tree, and this is mostly because of our chow chow. 

Real trees just aren’t a practical option with dogs, as we found out last year! I was worried how an artificial tree would pair up to the real deal, but I am incredibly impressed with the 7ft tree we selected from Very.

Here’s some of my top tips for making a fake tree look more real;

  • Take time fluffing the branches and opening them out, it’s not a 5 minute process. Keep standing back and identifying where it looks sparse and go back to fluff those sections accordingly.
  • Curl branches upwards to give that authentic Christmas tree look
  • Intertwine garlands with the same colour match in sparse areas to make the Christmas tree look fuller
  • Add a beautiful tree skirt to disguise the plastic feet
chow chow at Christmas

Remember to trust the process and enjoy it! What are your top tips for decorating a Christmas tree? Don’t forget to share your top decorating tips in the comments below! 

Looking for some more Christmas inspiration? You might also love these Christmas fireplace decor ideas and these Christmas table decorations under £20.

*Items marked with an Asterix have been kindly gifted to me by Very.

Photo of author


Nicole Sage

Nicole Sage is the founder of Sleek-chic Interiors and is a highly experienced interiors writer and skilled home renovator who has a passion for all things design. She has been featured as an authority at Pinterest, Ideal Home, Daily Mail and in countless other interviews. For 8 years, Nicole has written, observed key interior trends, renovated and undertaken interior short courses at the renown KLC school where she has gained her grounding interior design principles. With a keen eye for detail and a love of creativity, she shares her expertise on the latest interior trends, practical DIY tutorials, and styling inspiration to help others transform their homes into stunning spaces. With a commitment to delivering informative and engaging content, Nicole inspires and empowers readers to explore their own unique sense of style and create beautiful, personalised interiors. Contact her at for interiors advice, colour questions and any commentary.

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