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Simple steps let you decorate Christmas tree like a pro

Christmastime is very dear to me, and every year I have at least two Christmas trees on display in my home. My husband, however, thinks one tree is more than enough and groans as I drag stacks of boxes of Christmas décor out of the basement.

Usually, I just ignore his Scroogelike protests and go happily about my holiday decorating. But last year, Dan got his way. I was working a zillion hours a week and didn’t even have a minute to slap a wreath on the door. Dan later reported that this s spartan Christmas was his favorite to date. So, this Christmas, I’m trying to rein myself in a bit. So far I’m finding that tough to do, as the Christmas-tree decorating urge has hit me with a fury.

If you’d like to create a glorious tree this year, here are a few insider tips that I’ve collected over the years. I’ll bet these tricks will help you make your tree so beautiful it will look like it was dressed by the pros.

Use the right base: I used to secure my Christmas tree in a traditional tree stand until the fateful day the tree in my dining room crashed into the middle of my dining room table — right in the middle of a dinner party. That’s when I switched my allegiance from tree stands to sturdy cast-iron garden urns. I love how placing a tree in an iron urn gives it added height and grandeur, leaving even more room under the boughs for stacks of gifts.

Select the perfect tree: I used to prefer fresh-cut Christmas trees, but these days, I’ve gone artificial. Today’s fakes are incredibly lifelike, plus they don’t drop sap and needles on my floors or get so dry that they’re like kindling waiting to go up in flames.

The key to making an artificial tree look every bit as good as the real thing is to fuss with the branches, spreading out each twig and bending it into a lifelike position. Then, tuck in artificial floral picks that look like winterberries or clusters of evergreen boughs.

Light like a pro: Have you ever noticed how trees in beautiful commercial displays seem to glow from within? Your tree can be every bit as luminescent and lovely. Just wind a string of lights around each branch, starting from the trunk of the tree and working your way out. The process takes a bit of time, but is well worth the effort.

Pick a theme: Some folks like trees that have special themes or color schemes. Others love to fill their trees with a topsy-turvy collection of sentimental ornaments collected through the years. The only “right” way to decorate a tree is the way that makes you smile.

Decorate: Now it’s time to cover your tree with a blanket of beautiful garlands and baubles. To dress up the woodlands-themed tree in my dining room, I’ll unwind an inexpensive honeysuckle wreath and twist the vines throughout the branches of the tree to give it added texture and color. Then I’ll use a variety of ornaments in multiple layers to give the tree pizzazz. First, I’ll hang large tree balls far back in the branches, near the trunk, and from the lower limbs of the tree. Then I’ll fill in with some smaller balls, hung near the end of the branches that are located in the middle and top of the tree. I’ll finish off by placing more expensive and more interesting ornaments on the outer tips of the branches, where they can be admired more easily.

Mary Carol Garrity owns three home furnishings stores in Atchison, Kan., and wrote several books on home decorating. Write to Mary Carol at nellhills@mail.lvnworth.com. Her column is syndicated by Scripps Howard News Service.

 

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