With Thanksgiving leftovers now stowed in the fridge, Holiday decorating season is in full swing. For many of us, that means it’s time to tackle one of the most traditional—and, let’s face it, most daunting—tasks: the Christmas tree. Luckily, Gatehouse No. 1 design experts Lisa Ward and Stephanie Holdaway have the tips and tricks you need to craft a stylish, unforgettable Christmas display. Here is their step-by-step guide for Christmas tree decorating:

1. Fluff the Tree

Yes, it seems basic, but taking a few minutes to gently pull out branches and fluff your tree transforms it from “just out of storage” to Christmas morning ready.

Photo by Rebekah Westover

2. Bundle Your Picks

Christmas tree picks fill and brighten your tree, making the decor more fresh and organic. Gatehouse sells eye-catching sprays, like velvet eucalyptus and frosted cedar, that are designed to be gathered in eclectic yet cohesive bundles. Before placing, wind two or three picks together in a bundle, then tuck the picks and bend them back toward the base of the tree. Gatehouse recommends using about one pick bundle per foot of the tree, and placing the bundles in a rough triangle shape for a more natural-looking tree.

TIP: In most artificial trees, the branches have more exposed wire toward the trunk. Use this to secure your picks.

3. Add Some Ribbon

Bundled ribbon adds appealing textures and patterns to your Christmas tree. Place a few thick ribbons together (about one bundle per foot) and secure them to your tree, either by tying them together with a smaller ribbon, hanging them with wire, or twisting them directly on the branches. If you prefer bows, make sure to use wire ribbon, which is much easier to tie and manipulate. Ward likes ribbons that cascade a couple of inches past the branches, creating a casual, full look.

TIP: Use ribbon to show off your personal style. Holdaway said that ribbons on your tree are like pillows on your sofa—the perfect way to add new colors and materials. Mixed plaids and velvet are a winning combination that marries Holiday tradition with contemporary trends.

Photo by Rebekah Westover

4. Hang the Ornaments

Start with your biggest, brightest ornaments to anchor your tree decorations. Place them towards the back, again following the one per foot rule. (Keep your ornament more secure by adding wire yourself, instead of using the pre-attached hooks.) Try choosing sets with different textures for a more collected, diverse aesthetic. Then, fill in gaps with smaller ornaments. Ward recommends hanging groups of ornaments at the same time, and Holdaway says that on larger trees, clumps of matching ornaments can make a big impact.

TIP: Are you worried that a favorite ornament doesn’t fit the style of your tree? Matching ribbons bring cohesion to a mix of decorations that aren’t necessarily identical.

5. Top Your Tree

Time to get creative! Ward chose three bundled sprays that added to the top of the tree without disguising it. Make sure to go down the trunk, toward the bottom of the tree.

Photo by Rebekah Westover

6. Layer, Layer, Layer

Adding layers can take your tree to the next level. If your tree is placed on an end table, try wrapping a garland around the base and leaving the tail exposed, elongating the display. Or, wrapping eucalyptus around the tree can be a unique replacement for picks.

7. Bring the Bling

This is the fun part! The Gatehouse calls the final touches of your decorating “jewelry”—it’s the bling that makes your tree pop. Try a natural palette featuring pinecone ornaments and blueberry clusters. Or, tie on a miniature wreath decked out with velvet ribbon. To give artificial trees the quintessential Christmas scent, Gatehouse sells decorative fragrance bags that last all season long. Are you itching to try something different but not ready to give up your traditional tree? Go crazy on a small tree meant for consoles and end tables, or pair a pre-lit white tree with pots of pine or bowls of cedar.

TIP: Don’t feel limited to classic shades of red and green. Holdaway chooses colors and materials that appear elsewhere in the home. Here are some ideas to get you started: moody navy hues, leather trim and metallic touches of matte, gold and silver.

Click here for more tips and tricks to get ready for the Holidays. Gatehouse No. 1 sells a variety of Christmas décor at their Holiday online pop-up shop.

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