Tips for Decorating the Perfect Christmas Tree

Each holiday season, one of the most important decisions to make is selecting your Christmas tree. Whether you go for natural or artificial, big or small, setting up your tree should never feel like a chore - it is the spirit of the season, after all! Decorating the Christmas tree is one of the basic holiday traditions that you can enjoy with your kids. It's easy to follow a few basic rules and some fun ideas for making a tree so beautiful that it will dazzle your friends and family.

1. Think Tree Maintenance

Once you get your tree home, you want to clean it before you get it in the house by brushing off dust and excess dead needles. Then place your tree in a good tree stand, making it easy to water and maintain throughout the season. You can buy Christmas tree preservative to make the tree last even longer, or there are many recipes available for making your own.

2. Lights, Garlands, Ornaments

Most people remember that basic order. Hang the lights from the bottom of the tree upwards, and from the inside out, to give them the most security. Garlands can be made of beads or tinsel, fabric or even artificial leaves - most stores will have a variety of designs. After you have placed both of those, you can start with the ornaments. Keep the lighter ornaments further towards the edge of the branches and alternate with larger, heavier ornaments further back - not only will it balance the tree, it will help give a nice appearance of depth.

3. Don't Be Afraid to Use Themes

A Christmas tree theme can be as simple as a color - maybe silver, gold, or peppermint stripes. It can also be a look, like Victorian or rustic, or it can be a type of ornaments you favor. A theme for your tree can be beautiful and sophisticated, but if you have a lot of heirloom ornaments or a mixed bag of things you like to use every year, than you might want to make a tree that's completely your own.

4. Get Creative

Use dried flowers, unlit candles, toys, or paper decorations as ornaments. Experiment with colors not usually associated with Christmas trees - the range of pastels and bright shades that make your tree unique. Infusing your tree with natural decorations like pine cones or twigs gives it a cozier touch. Or you can use shiny ornaments and metallic spray. There are plenty of unconventional ways to make your tree say something about you, your home, and your family.

Remember, it is virtually impossible to have too many ornaments on a Christmas tree, as long as the branches are stable. The fuller the tree looks, the more beautiful it will be. Use filler ornaments to create patterns and fill in any gaps, and spread out your expensive or heirloom ornaments at about eye level. Of course, the tree is never complete without the presents stacked underneath it - the final touch to a beautiful Christmas season.

Linda Knighton writes for several holiday blogs. Check out www.santasquarters.com for great ball ornaments" for the tree.