Decorating a tree is one of Christmas’ most magical moments. Who doesn’t love to rediscover special decorations which have been wrapped for a year or feel a thrill when placing the star on the topmost branch? The magic goes without saying. But it can also be a fairly mammoth undertaking with most of us reverting to Google to search for “How To Decorate A Christmas Tree”.
To solve all your tree woes this year, we spoke to Jeff Leatham, Artistic Director of Paris’ Four Seasons George V hotel (who just so happens to create displays for Oprah Winfrey, Madonna, the Kardashians and even His Holiness the Dalai Lama), on dressing a tree like a pro.
1. Maximise your lighting
“The first tip for creating a really chic Christmas tree – the first thing I ever learned when I started doing trees almost 30 years ago – is instead of just laying the lights on the branches, [you] wrap the lights around every branch. And literally wrap the branch. It costs a bit more but makes a huge difference. You usually use twice as many lights but it’s worth it in the end because it makes for a more beautiful tree.”
2. Create a beautiful base
“The second thing – which I’m a big fan of – would be always trying to find a beautiful piece of fabric or using vases around the bottom [of the tree] to hide the mechanism that holds the tree up. Be creative with that. I always feel that that’s a beautiful touch before all the gifts are around it. What I’ve done in the past is that if I’ve used balls on the tree I’ll use big vases filled with the same type of Christmas tree balls at the bottom. It really finishes your tree because if you have [one] that you’re going to have all season long, you usually don’t start putting gifts under it until about a week before Christmas.”
3. Perfecting your placement
“When you’re placing the ornaments on your tree, make sure you do it with depth. Make sure to not just put them on the outside of the tree – put them on the inside so that there are Christmas balls close to the trunk of the tree and on the outside. This adds depth to your tree which makes it look more luxurious so to speak.”
4. Be careful with your colour palette
“Use monochromatic Christmas balls. I always suggest that people use two different types. If you’re going to use a colour that’s kind of crazy – some people have used hot pink on their tree – then maybe choose another ornament which is maybe a clear glass. But I think those days of really mixed together Christmas trees are kind of over and I think people are (as they are with their flowers) using more monochromatic ornaments that go together on the tree.”
5. Incorporate special pieces
“I think family heirloom ornaments are the most important so, if you’re finding that those are something you’re placing on your tree on a yearly basis then I would suggest that that would be the key factor – that you’re buying new ornaments based around those family heirloom ornaments. If you’re wanting to use an heirloom ornament and they don’t particularly go with your tree then sometimes what I’ve done is if you have a garland on your chimney then putting more special family heirloom ornaments that perhaps.”
6. Mix your sizes
“My last tip would be – just in general – using different sizes of balls so that when you look at it it’s interesting. Don’t just use an 8 centimetre ball – maybe start with a 5 centimetre, then an 8. Even if they’re the same colour of tree ornaments, using different sizes of ornaments adds a little something different.”