I have some pretty high standards when it comes to choosing Christmas decorations. With twelve years of experience in worldwide retail and wholesale markets for Christmas tabletop, foliage and decorations, I can basically glance out of the corner of my eye and spot an un-fluffed wreath or crooked ornament from a NYC block away. So here are just a few tips for preparing your home Holiday decorations.
It’s a simple, though oft-forgotten reminder: when reviving last year’s holiday trees, wreaths and garlands, make sure that you fluff the foliage out. Most commercial businesses don’t do anything to the crumpled piquets (i.e., the tips of the evergreens) and what results is greenery that has clearly been picked out of a ten year old, moldy, taped-up box. Taking a moment to straighten out the piquets is easy to do and makes your foliage appear so much crisper and more natural.
As far as lighting your tree is concerned, make sure that you start from the bottom and work your way up. My rule of thumb is six strands of 100 lights per section of extension cord). Any more will increase the chance of blowing out the light sets, which is obviously not a good idea for safety reasons, in addition to totally ruining the aesthetics. (Unless, of course, you mean to decorate a tree in which the middle third is in the dark. No.) Safety observed, remember that cords are an eye-sore. To hide them, take a wide ribbon or length of fabric and double it up, using hot glue to make a sleeve your cords. Make sure that you use double the ribbon or fabric so that you can ruchethe ribbon after you’ve constructed it.
When placing ornaments, I like to visualize the tree in three sections: top, middle and bottom. Then divide your ornaments by size, so that they correspond to the tree sections as small, medium and large, respectively. Hanging them this way, with some slight mixing in between sections (i.e., the middle section can have a mix of some large but mostly medium; the top section can have a mix of some medium, but mostly small, etc.). This makes for a successful blend of ornaments. Be sure when you are finished that all of the ornaments hang straight up and down and that the front of each ornament’s embellishment faces outward. Simple tips, of course, but you’d be surprised how often they go overlooked.
Special cases call for special decorating measures. A colleague of mine hung real foliage above two doorways in her home last year. She had several styles of adornments that she had collected over the years, some store bought, some heirloom ornaments, gifts from special people throughout her life. Each was different and unique, just like the people or places that from which she procured them. So we decided to take the divide and conquer technique, better known as, building two “color stories”. All of the bright vibrant, colorful jewel tone ornaments were hung over the closet archway. All of the cream, white, silver and gold decorations were reserved for the Kitchen doorway; two themes that worked independently of one another, and yet cohered within the space.
My Christmas wish this year: that everyone take a little extra time to make their holiday decorations as close to perfect as possible (assuming you don’t have curious children, mischievous cats, or inquisitive dogs). After all, what season other than this do we start decorating so early, leave decorations up for so long and have the attention of more inspecting guests?
Lastly, each of your ornaments and decorations has a memory associated with it. Whether an inexpensive sphere you got from K-mart twenty years ago, or a cherished keep-sake piece that a late relative gave you when you were a child, each is memorable and carries an emotional association, whether good, bad, or indifferent. Just like life!
Happy Decorating and Happy Holidays!