The first order of business in decorating a tree is, of course, the lights. Personally, I prefer white lights because that's what I grew up with. But what kind of lights you use is entirely up to you! I once saw a beautiful tree that had a combination of colored and white lights in different sizes. It sounds like it wouldn't work, but it really did. So do what you love. It's your tree.
Last year was my first year to use an artificial tree. Up until then I have always had real trees, but we had gotten tired of the hassle and the expense. Plus I thought that if I started using artificial trees, I might eventually get to buy more of them and have trees all over the house like I have only dreamed of. And now I have two trees, which I am Very Excited About.
I found that the only drawbacks to the artificial trees were 1.) they didn't have as many lights on them as I would like and 2.) they're kind of thin through the middle and you can see through them. With a real tree, obviously, the needles are very thick all the way through the tree and even grow on the trunk itself.
So as I pondered a way to remedy this situation, I had an idea that would fix both those problems in one fell swoop. And I will share that epiphany with you. But first, let's talk about the lights.
When we used to buy a fresh tree every year, we usually bought around an 8 foot tree. I would typically put about 1400 lights on it. That may seem like a lot to you if you are the kind who just loops lights around and around the tree. But the way I was taught to put on lights is to start at the top and go out and in every branch. You will use a lot more lights this way, but it makes a huge difference in impact. Not only do you have a brighter tree, but it also makes the tree glow from within. That's a trick that the pros use.
So back to my artificial tree dilemma. I came up with a solution that is fairly simple to do but does help to fill out the tree, and gets some extra lights in there. I started with a humble piece of garland:
This garland was $5 per 9 feet at Garden Ridge. If you'd like to try this with your tree, I would recommend you get this kind-- the kind that looks similar to the branches on your tree-- rather than the fuzzy kind. You want it to blend in with the tree.
Next, I added a strand of lights (which I have a ton of, from my fresh tree years). Like so:
Please ignore the stains on my carpet. Goodness knows I do.
Now, behold the tree:
Do you see what I mean about the middle being thin? You can see the pole. It kind of ruins the illusion for me (the illusion being is-it-a-real-tree-or-a-fake-one?). So I took my garland and wound it around the trunk of the tree, like so:
Okay, so as it turns out it was really hard to take a picture that would demonstrate what I did. But basically, I just wound the garland loosely around each tier of branches. You want it to lay about 1/3 of the way down the branch from the trunk. Also, make sure the garland is fluffed out really well, otherwise it won't cover the gaps.
In this picture, there is garland added to the bottom 2/3rds of the tree. See how you can still see the gaps on the top? See how much better the bottom is filled in?
Here is the completed tree. I am very pleased with the end result. It's definitely much fuller-looking. This is a nine foot tree, which is pre-lit with 700 lights. I added about 500 more, which brings me pretty close the the amount of lights I'm used to on a tree.
When it's time to take the tree down, I leave the sections of garland in the tree and fold up the branches with them still inside. That way I don't have to start from scratch every year.
Finally, if you use a fresh tree, here are some helpful tips I put together for you. Enjoy!