One of the most significant rituals of the festive period is decorating your Christmas tree. It can also be a hugely satisfying creative endeavour. Here, one of the expert stylists at leading London-based design company Gisela Graham shares the simple secrets of how the professionals make theirs look so good.
Step 1: Right Tree for the Right Space
“Before we even get to decorating, the first step is to make sure we select the right tree for the space. It needs to fit the space well, and have the right look and feel to complement the decorations.”
Browse the range of quality real Christmas trees from Hillier Garden Centres here.
Step 2: Tightly Wrapped Lights
“We like a really intense display of lights and usually say the more the merrier. For an average 6-7ft tree, it’s quite typical that we would use three sets of 120 lights.
“The lights should be wrapped around each branch, tightly and neatly, starting from the top of the tree. Wrap the lights as close to the branch as possible, avoiding having lots of loose wire showing. This will make the lights almost disappear, allowing the tree and decorations to stand out.”
Step 3: Foliage Base Layer
“Foliage tends to be at the base of all Gisela Graham styled trees. This can involve covering every branch with some kind of leafy stem or glittered branch, or it could mean strategically placing a delicate flower or snowy bunch of berries.
“We often cut down foliage stems to create a more subtle effect, or sometimes several types of foliage are arranged together to achieve the desired look.”
Step 4: Glass Decorations
“After lights and foliage, we next position glass decorations. We use a range of 100mm and 80mm glass balls. Much as with floristry, we recommend having odd numbers of each style; 3s, 5s, 7s etc. as this creates a more pleasing appearance.
“The larger 100mm ones we position right in the centre of the tree (towards the trunk) to fill out the tree and give it a more solid base.
“With the smaller glass decorations, complementary glass can be grouped together which is a good way to provide structure and focus. We aim for good overall coverage of the tree. Glass can be placed on or underneath the tree branch depending on the look desired. We attach the glass baubles directly to the tree using the top of the decoration or suspend them using very thin florist wire.
“Small glass shapes and icicles look good hanging from the tips of the branches and these should be left until the very end.”
Step 5: Completing the Story
“Once the glass is in place (with the exception of the smallest shapes), all other decorations are then put onto the tree in two stages. Firstly, we put on the slightly more basic, larger decorations such as stars, fruit or snowflakes. These are used almost as a background.
“The second and final set of decorations are usually the smaller, more delicate ones like the fairies, elves etc. These are used right at the end to create maximum impact and complete the tree story.”
Find a wide range of Gisela Graham decorations at all Hillier Garden Centres.