Tree Trimming 101

These clever products and expert tips will help you trim a lovely holiday tree and stash and organize the decorations so you'll easily find them next year.

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Beautiful Tree Trimming

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Read on for how to get a pretty Christmas tree in a few easy steps.


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First Things First

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Choose a tree at least one foot shorter than your ceiling to leave room for a topper. Allow for several inches of clearance from walls so there is enough room to decorate all sides.

Once you've brought the tree inside, let it settle for a day before decorating. Trim crooked branches or those touching the ground with heavy-duty scissors or pruners.


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Light the Way

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Olszewski suggests using at least 50 lights per foot—or, for extra brilliance, 100 per foot.

Starting from the top, wrap lights once around branches near the trunk and again closer to branch tips.

Repeat as you work your way down. A mix of traditional colored lights with white ones makes the hues pop, says Olszewski.


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Belles of the Ball

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Hang heavier ornaments near the trunk, where branches are sturdiest. Place lightweight ones (that don't need as much support) on tips. Save special heirloom and family favorites for the front of the tree so they'll be most prominent.

Take a step back and check for areas that need more decoration. "There's no real formula here, but in my opinion, the less green you see, the better," says Olszewski. Use basic shiny balls that will reflect the light to fill in any gaps.


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Finishing Touches

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Take it from the top. Drape thin garlands—such as beaded strings—in pairs, letting one hang lower than the other. Thick paper or foil garlands look best wrapped loosely around the entire tree.

Rest garlands on the center of branches, placing them around ornaments. Give swags more length as you work your way down.

Place tinsel in handfuls on branch tips and near the trunk. "The lights reflect off the tinsel—it acts as a finishing shine," says Olszewski. For inspiration, check out local department store holiday displays.

Tip: For a lush alternative to a tree skirt, wrap a couple of yards of geometric or plaid fabric around the stand.


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They're Tops

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Cap a tree with style with these festive suggestions:
—Create a distinctive crown by clustering large glass ornaments in the top branches.
—Tie a raffia or satin ribbon in a large bow at the tip, letting the tails trail down.
—Combine several sprays of beads or seasonal flowers, winding them around the top branches.


Find similar products at jamaligarden.com


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Holiday Helpers

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Pretty Petals
Bring some flower power to your fir.


Find similar products at pier1.com


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Little Whimsy

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Hand-painted by a Finnish designer and destined to be heirlooms.

Iittala Ornaments, Taika, $15/2, available at finnstyle.com


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Fancy Flock

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Add four calling birds—or more—to bare boughs.

Find similar products at pier1.com


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Hi Ho Silver

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Top off the tree with a sparkling snowflake.

Find similar products at crateandbarrel.com


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Storing Decorations

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Tangled lights and jumbled ornaments can create a not-so-merry mess. "When the holidays are over, take stock of your decorations as you take them down and toss items that were never hung up or have lost their luster," says Marcia Ramsland, author of Simplify the Holidays (Thomas Nelson). Here are her solutions for storing your stuff.
—Designate an area for all holiday items—whether it's a high shelf in a closet or a corner of the attic.
—Wrap delicate glass and heirloom pieces in tissue paper or bubble wrap to prevent breakage. Stow ornaments in lidded plastic bins or shallow cardboard boxes, making sure containers are all the same size for easy stacking.
—Wrap garlands around a large, rectangular piece of heavy-duty cardboard or a gallon-size coffee can so they don't get knotted.
—Always store lights indoors since they don't hold up well in extreme temperatures. Wind individual sets around a square, notched piece of cardboard to prevent tangling.
—Pack artificial trees in polypropylene or vinyl bags (most will fit up to a 10-foot tree) to protect from dust. For easier lifting, choose a bag with handles.
—Toss out used tinsel. It's inexpensive to replace and looks best for just one season.
—Package wreaths in custom containers or boxes, available in sizes ranging from 10 to 40 inches; store in the garage or shed.Tip: Label lights, garlands, and mistletoe by room so you'll always know which items to hang in the hallway and which go on the mantel.


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Good Tidings

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These clever products help make holiday decoration storage hassle-free.Stow Away
A six-piece foam-padded set safely holds dessert plates, mugs, and serving ware.


Find similar products at containerstore.com


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Easy-to-hang bags accommodate wreaths up to 27 inches in size.

Find similar product at amazon.com


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Store More

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Adjustable dividers stash up to 48 ornaments in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Three-Tier Storage Box, Snapware, $25, available at organize.com


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Tweet Idea

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Mark boxes of seasonal stuff like snow globes or candles with vintage-inspired bird labels.

Gift Tags, Glitter Greetings, $15/36, available at touchofeurope.net


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Branch Out

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A vinyl bag with sturdy aluminum handles protects your favorite artificial fir.

Christmas Tree Storage Bag, $99, available at grandinroad.com


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Holding Power

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Put everything from trinkets to rolls of garlands into this trio of cardboard valises.

Find similar products at shopfeatheryournest.com


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Guiding Lights

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A set of three plastic reels holds up to 600 mini lights in a zippered nylon bag.Originally published in the December 2008 issue of Family Circle magazine.


Red Storage Reel Bag, Christmas Light Company, $6, available at amazon.com/home