Monday, December 1, 2014

13 tips for smarter tree trimming

1. Lay down a sheet or plastic foil before taking out the tree and only remove when you're done decorating. Add the tree skirt or sack at the very end if you're using any. We always underestimate the amount of glitter and tree needles that fall on the floor, no matter how careful we are.

2. Work your tree like it's a piece of clay. If you have an artificial one, open the branches and adjust them to achieve the biggest volume. Turn some piece of greenery up or down to make sure everything looks full. Don't turn around every single piece though, because you will want to adjust that when putting the ornaments. Start small and you'll keep moving them until the end to get the desired result.

3. Give yourself time and prepare mentally for an easy going and not fast process. Work in layers and don't move to the next one unless everything looks the way you want it. This is the only way to assure you have control over the final result, otherwise there are small chances you'll be able to find out the things not working when the result doesn't seem right.

4. Pick up a theme or color palette. Think about how you want the tree to look in the end. If you prefer your tree more undone and child friendly, use toys, photo ornaments, whimsical decorations. For a polished and fancy version, go monochromatic. To create a luxurious looking tree go classic and gold all the way, with glitter and shine as your best assets. There are unlimited options you can embrace, according to your preferences, space, children, budget etc. Choose from the beginning to avoid surprises, disappointment and frustration later.

5. If you can afford spending money on only one thing or if you're buying decorations from scratch, I'd say go for the lights. Find the ones that work best for your tree tone and make everything pop up. A lit tree at night looks magical, having nothing else on. The warm yellow glow is the most flattering, but be aware with pale green trees or ones that look snowed on. Yellow and white will wash them out, so opt for red lights or another saturated hue. For colored lights I prefer small twinkles, buy for white or yellow I'd say the bigger the light bulb the better. Don't forget to try if the lights work by plugging them before putting on tree. Seems silly, but sometimes I forget.

6. Start by putting the lights. Make sure they are placed perfectly because it will take a village to fix them later. If you want a lot of intensity, use two strands or more. Start from the bottom and build from there. When doing the top part, start from up and go downwards. It's easier to get to the plugs and keep cords out of sight. Choose the same light color and size. For really dense trees, it's better not to push them too far in the tree because they will disappear behind the branches. For lighter trees, tuck them into some places and bring them out on some edges to create depth and balance. Experiment with how you want them to look. Turn off the lights in the room to see how they work at night. Turn the bulbs facing out and not towards the tree if there seems to be little light. Add more if you like and don't settle until you are content.

7. After the lights,  it's time to modify the shape of the tree. Fill in places that look sparse with artificial or natural branches, ribbons, bulky decorations. You can alter the silhouette of the tree too. If it seems too round and full, put some long pieces to create a more layered outline.

8. Be creative with the decorations. Gather all you have in one place. See if they are enough for the tree. If not, estimate how many more you need. Make a mental map of where they should go and count them. Either go shopping with your precise list to avoid buying stuff you don't need for the tree or start making your own. Fabric scraps and ribbons are great for making ornaments or as additions to plain ornaments. Cotton balls, paper scraps, toys and accessories are good to use too. Basically, everything that can be hanged or tucked between tree branches and all you can spray paint if the color doesn't work will work perfectly as trimmings. Add sentimental items to make your tree more meaningful and to give memories to your family.

9. You can use two or three different size baubles to create more interest. Put smaller baubles towards to top and keep the bigger ones on the bottom, if your tree is on the small size (under 1.8m). This helps maintain the balance and not end up having too much on some spots. You can also go all over with big baubles and add smaller ones as a second layer later.

10. When using only one color for the ornaments, try different finishes like matte, shiny, grainy textured, embossed or glittery. The tree will end up looking interesting and the lights will play with the materials, providing beautiful results.

11. At the point when you're done with the main ornaments, go once again and add things where needed. Don't be afraid of putting too much. Add some different things from the initial ones, like flowers or sharp shaped ornaments like bells, animals, stars, bows.

12. To top up everything, choose either a big fancy classic star or angel for the top of the tree or go for a totally unexpected one. A big bow, a sparkly ball, a wrapped present with ribbon would all look great up there. For an easy solution, hot glue together some small and big baubles (ten or more, depending to the tree size) to create some height and bulk and stick that on the top.

13. Add value to the tree you just trimmed to perfection by arranging the space around it. Add a tree skirt or a piece of cloth in a color that doesn't clash with the ornaments. Put together wrapped presents or empty boxes wrapped just for the effect. Hang things on the walls near the tree. You can also permanently wallpaper the space behind the tree to create the background you like, if there's too much visual noise already or the wall color is totally off and makes the tree not look good.

I hope you find these tips useful and they speed up the trimming time too. It took me a lot of years to figure out some fuss free ways and of course I am no expert yet. Doing and undoing the tree is still going on, but the final results are always worth it.

Happy holidays season!

| Love, Lisa |

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