Pro Tips For Decorating Your Tree

Use these tips to make decorating the tree – and the rest of the house – a breeze.

There is no wrong or right way to decorate a Christmas tree. That’s because the glittery objects that adorn it are unique – handmade by the kids or grandkids, trinkets from vacations, passed-down heirlooms. The tree might also mirror your home’s existing interior design, another differentiating angle.

“It’s often the most personal thing about the holidays,” Ashley Evans, senior interior design consultant for The Home Market in the Third Ward, says about the holiday’s iconic tree.

The trick is taking an eclectic collection of ornaments and bringing them together in a cohesive way. It helps to incorporate solid-color ornaments throughout as a neutral respite for the eye. Gold, silver or clear glass, or a combination of the three, work well. Consider including a set of ornaments in interesting shapes (tear drops, icicles, stars) in addition to traditional orbs.

Hang your special ornaments first, then fill in with the neutrals. Take a methodical approach: large ornaments at the bottom, medium in the middle and small near the top. Be sure to hang some ornaments deep into the boughs of the tree. Give each ornament room to dangle. (Having hooks in a variety of sizes can help with this.) Stand back from the tree frequently and assess whether the colors and shapes are evenly distributed and the overall look is balanced.

Illustration by Getty Images



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Beyond the tree, consider the rest of your home as part of the holiday-decorating palette. “Lots of branches, twigs and berries” is what Evans turns to for décor, along with boxwood wreaths in the windows, while Kate Kazlo – The Home Market’s owner – loves mixing in greenery for fresh smells and a nature-inspired aesthetic. She’ll also add magnolia leaves to the mantel, and in bowls and urns.

Draping evergreen swag on a console table in the entryway, here and there in the powder room, and on any mirrors throughout the home (even inside walk-in closets to get in the spirit while dressing for holiday parties) is another fun way to inject some festive flair, says Lisa Mohindroo of Mohindroo Interiors in Glendale. If you’ve got a staircase, “the railing is one of those things you can’t really miss,” she says, because “typically, the staircase is right in the middle of your house or a feature in your home.”

Mohindroo suggests laying down garland or swag first, as a base, and then dressing it up with ornaments and stockings, or anything that lights up. “It’s really all about texturizing,” she says.

To keep the look from going stale, switch up the color scheme each year, keeping base objects the same. Evans shifts between silver/white, pink/orange and red/green.

Don’t feel dependent upon red and green – or even blue and gold or silver, another popular winter-holiday combination.

“We do a lot of jewel tones,” Mohindroo says about her clients’ decorating needs. “That’s when you can bring in your glamour.”


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s December issue.

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A seasoned writer, and a former editor at Milwaukee Home & Fine Living, Kristine Hansen launched her wine-writing career in 2003, covering wine tourism, wine and food pairings, wine trends and quirky winemakers. Her wine-related articles have published in Wine Enthusiast, Sommelier Journal, Uncorked (an iPad-only magazine),, and Whole Living (a Martha Stewart publication). She's trekked through vineyards and chatted up winemakers in many regions, including Chile, Portugal, California (Napa, Sonoma and Central Coast), Canada, Oregon and France (Bordeaux and Burgundy). While picking out her favorite wine is kind of like asking which child you like best, she will admit to being a fan of Oregon Pinot Noir and even on a sub-zero winter day won't turn down a glass of zippy Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.