Common Christmas Tree Decorating Mistakes—And How To Avoid Them

Lauren Wicks
·5 min read
Photo credit: d3sign - Getty Images
Photo credit: d3sign - Getty Images

From Redbook

Few activities foster the holiday spirit more than the tradition of decorating the Christmas tree, whether you're five or fifty. The problem is, your beloved tree—real or faux—can often end up looking more like an eyesore than a festive statement piece if you're not careful. Especially when you've worked hard to create a stylish home, you want your holiday decor to add, not subtract, from your beautiful aesthetic.

Thankfully, our fearless (and stylish!) VERANDA editors are here to share common Christmas tree decorating mistakes so you can stay vigilant as you begin preparing to decorate your own.

You Hang Precious Ornaments Haphazardly.

"Beware of hanging glass ornaments or heirloom ornaments below 30 inches high," says Joy Moyler, interior designer and VERANDA's newest columnist. "This will ensure little hands and pets cannot reach them, reducing an opportunity for breakage." She also says to beware of food-based ornaments.

"Hanging real cookies and treats on the tree could be a problem when everyone is asleep and the pooch wants a late night snack!" she says. You could lose a lot more than just a few cookie ornaments if your pet is large enough.

You Don't Have the Right Base for Your Tree.

"Make sure to get a big enough base to hold the tree so that it doesn’t fall in the middle of the night—I know that one from experience," says Sara Clark, VERANDA's style assistant. Be on the lookout for an adjustable tree base that can hold up to a 10-foot tree, so you won't have to start from scratch next year if you select a tree of a different size.

Your Tree Decor Lacks Individuality.

"The best Christmas trees to me are one that feel highly personal, unique and feature different decorations collected over time—things that are inherited or even handmade," says Dayle Wood, VERANDA's senior style and market editor. "There’s nothing worse to me than looking like you just ran to the store and picked up a hundred silver and gold glass ball ornaments and called it a day. So, whether you garland the tree in a gorgeous coral satin ribbon that you found at a market in Paris, hang your grandmother’s collection of Swedish straw ornaments every year, or pull out the decorations you crafted as a child, your Christmas tree should always tell a very personal story about who you are and where you’ve been." Discover our editors' favorite unique Christmas tree ornaments to get inspired.

You're Not Thinking "Big Picture."

"Think like a stylist and add more," Clark says "It’s always much easier to take away after seeing decorations at their fullest. With all the merry making, kids running around, and, perhaps, several glasses of wine, it’s easy to forget to take a breather and step back. Doing this every now and again will help keep the bigger vision in mind and fill those missing gaps within the branches."

You Didn't Check Your String Lights Before Hanging Them Up.

"Always hang decorative lights first and test them before anything else goes on the tree," Moyler says. As anyone who has learned this firsthand knows, it's extremely frustrating to discover one of your bulbs is out, forcing you to take the lights (and possibly other ornamentation) off your tree and redecorate once you get a new set or have the bulb(s) fixed on your current strand.

Your Tree Topper Was An After-Thought.

Clark says it's important to choose a tree topper that is to scale with your tree, which means it may be worth investing in a few different shapes and sizes to have on hand as the years go by or if you add more trees to your home's collection this year.

Our style and market editors have also been hard at work curating holiday decor recommendations for tree toppers, wreaths, and more to help you find stylish, statement-making pieces.

Your Tree Reflects Your Home's Junk Drawer More So Than Your Family.

While nostalgia and family heirlooms are essential elements of any Christmas tree, Wood says there's no need to shy away from a theme, especially when you have multiple trees in your home.

"I have an ever-growing collection of Christmas ornaments that I’ve picked up over the years in England and Scotland, so much so that my family now has an entire tree dedicated to our love of the British Isles," Wood says. "Every year it’s such a joy to rediscover our favorites as we decorate this tree–the glass-blown Scottish terrier and London black cab ornaments, the felted Queen’s Guard I bought at Windsor Castle, and not to mention all the tartan ribbons. I also always enjoy having something to hunt for when I travel—I’m currently looking for the perfect Scottish thistle ornament to add to my collection!"

Your Tree Is the Only Holiday Decoration You Spent Time On.

Senior Style and Market Editor Rachael Burrow stresses the importance of creating a flow of festivity throughout your home to make your Christmas tree feel less out-of-place.

"Don’t ignore the other places besides the tree where decorating really makes a difference: a beautiful fresh wreath hung with a simple velvet ribbon, fresh garlands coming down the stairwell, and small touches throughout the house, like a citrus and greens arrangement on the dining room table," she says. " Those things are also items that you can enjoy all season long, and not just the few days when you have company! Bonus: preparing for your at-home holiday gathering will take less prep time thanks to your already-fabulous set-up.

At the end of the day, decorating your family Christmas tree should be a deeply personal affair and reflect the precious memories of holidays gone by, as well as the family members that make this season so special. Keeping these mistakes in mind, you can go forth confidently and create a spectacular tree that your family will cherish.

"Decorating your tree shouldn’t be a chore," Clark says. "It's really a creative outlet, so trust your gut and try something new even if it breaks with custom. You might just start a new tradition of your own!"

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