Selecting a Christmas Tree

by Ardith Beveridge, Tastemaker in Residence


Selecting a tree:

  • Select the proper size for the area
  • The more branch tips the fuller looking the tree and the more places to hang ornaments
  • Long needles are more of an informal look
  • Short needles are more formal
  • Upswept branches and sparser tree more informal
  • Down swept branches symmetrical and full more formal

What to look for:

  • Amount of tips-strength of branches
  • Color
  • Shape
  • Sturdy

Lighting the tree:

  • Check lights before stringing the tree
  • Do not exceed manufactures recommendations on quantity of lights per extension cord—usually 300 lights
  • String lights when lit for easier placement
  • End cords in the same place
  • String throughout tree, way in to the center and to the tips to illuminate ornaments
  • Put all cords into one power bar for ease of turning on and off

Choose a theme:

  • Dominate color or subject
  • Keep in a basic motif; nature/outdoors, country, romantic, traditional
  • Balance texture shape size and color; have one thing dominate

Theme ideas:

  • Glittery
  • Country
  • Southern Belle
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • Black Tie
  • Childrens
  • Owls
  • Santa and reindeer
  • Nostalgic
  • Cardinals
  • Sugar and spice


  • Repeat multiples of the same ornament or by using different shapes in the same color or texture
  • Keep the size relationship to the room, area and surroundings
  • One item is dominate, the others are subordinate
  • Interact combination of ornaments
  • Choose symmetrical or asymmetrical, stay with the one you choose for visual and physical balance
  • Place lights and ornaments deep inside the tree and out on the tips
  • Keep ornaments about the same size, larger on or near base, smaller on top, medium in-between
  • To make small ornaments appear larger, group them together
  • Encourage the eye to move around the tree by repeating shapes, colors and textures


  • Depends on size or tree and how dense you like the ornaments
  • You may use up to 40 per foot of tree
  • 7 foot tree =280 ornaments
  • Mix some expensive unique ornaments with some less expensive
  • Utilize some items that are not meant for ornaments. As cookie cutters, ribbons and bows
  • Larger scale has more visual impact
  • In darker area glitz and bling works

Hanging Ornaments:

  • Start with largest ornaments or largest quantity first
  • Distribute size shape and color throughout the tree
  • Larger ornaments near the bottom, smaller to the top
  • Use green enameled hooks
  • Use green zip ties to prevent ornaments from falling

Tree Skirt:

  • Tie the skirt into the theme


  • Place a large tree bag under the tree for easy removal
  • Take inventory of ornaments; perhaps take a picture of each for your records
  • Remove large and fragile ornaments, place in a box
  • Label everything
  • Recycle the tree