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Toi Degree: Start planning Christmas decorations now

It’s time to start thinking about decorating for Christmas. The Christmas tree is the shining centerpiece during the holiday season.  There is a lot to consider in the beginning, such as which style, what colors, which ornaments, etc.

Decorating for the holidays is a big undertaking and requires a lot of time, effort and planning.  Here are a few things to consider:

The tree. Your tree is your canvas, so it’s important to select a good one — gorgeous ornaments can do only so much for a scraggly tree. Some people prefer the look and smell of a real pine or fir tree, while others like the reliability of an artificial one. Whatever you choose, here are some things to think about:

  • Get a well-shaped tree. If you’re getting a real tree, make sure that you see it out of its netting. Look for full, evenly-spaced branches and a symmetric shape that tapers toward the top. The more branch tips it has, the better.
  • If you’re setting up an artificial tree and shaping the branches yourself, try to bend them so that you can’t see the inches of space between each layer of branches.
  • Set up a tree stand and skirt. For real trees, you’ll need a tree stand with a deep water reservoir, which you should fill only after the tree is in place. Set up a tree skirt around the floor to catch any falling needles and to make clean-up easier.
  • Consider a pre-lit tree. If you’ve already decided on an artificial tree, you might want to buy one that already has tiny Christmas lights on the branches. Putting up the lights is the worst part of the process for most people — if you can skip that step, you’ll be able to spend more time and energy on other aspects of decorating your tree.

The color scheme. Sticking to one color scheme will make your tree look cohesive and complete. Keep in mind that you might want to choose something that doesn’t clash with the room that the tree will be in. According to Coral Nafie, Interior Decorating Expert for AboutHome.com, there are a number of ways to determine or choose a color scheme that you will want to follow with your Christmas decorations.

  • You’re home’s color scheme — Focus on the colors that you have in your home year-round, and select complimentary colors that bring out the seasonal feeling.
  • Colors from your childhood Christmases — If you have particularly happy memories from Christmas past, try to choose a color theme to enhance that memory.
  • Holiday gift wrap — You can see lots of color schemes used in Christmas gift wrapping paper.
  • Ribbons — Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without ribbons. If you find a ribbon that you particularly like, use the colors for the decorating scheme throughout your home.

These are just a few of the ways that you can go about choosing a color scheme. For these and other ideas, visit http://interiordec.about.com/od/christmasdecor/a/cmascolorscheme.htm, Color Schemes for Christmas Decorations.

So now the fun really begins — you have selected your tree (with or without lights) and color scheme.  Now, let’s decorate your Christmas tree.

Step 1: Light it up

To string your lights, start from the top of the tree and work your way to the bottom. If it is an artificial tree, you can string your lights in segments so that the tree can be broken down and packed away without removing the lights. Push the lights part way into the branches to hide the cord.

Step 2: Add strings of garland, ribbon, beads or popcorn

If it’s the right color, almost anything can become a Christmas tree decoration, plaid gift wrap ribbon, delicate gift tags, etc.

Step 3: Top it off

Put your topper on before the tree is heavy with ornaments and doodads. If anything goes wrong and your tree should timber, you won’t be left cleaning up broken ornaments!

Step 4: Insert picks and sprays

Whether they’re painted in hues of gold or spotted with velvet fabric, patchy areas of trees can be covered with a well-placed spray or bountiful pick, too.

Step 5: Add bulb ornaments

These Christmas ornaments are the base of your tree. Think of them as your very first layer of paint. Starting from the top and working your way to the bottom, add bulbs at all depths of the tree.

Step 6: Add specialty ornaments

By adding your specialty ornaments second, you can better choose where to let them shine, while still maintaining a cohesive look and feel to your tree.

Step 7: Think outside the “gift” box!

As I said before, if it’s the right color, almost anything can be a Christmas tree decoration. Let your imagination soar. Experiment with elf legs, pennant banners and pre-lit ornaments to put your tree over the top.

These and other tips for decorating your tree can be found at My Kirkland’s http://www.kirklands.com/blog/how-to-decorate-your-christmas-tree/

In addition to the Christmas tree, also think about adding wreaths to your doors and windows. They add a nice touch. It just so happens that the 4-H Wreath Sale is going on and you can buy handmade, beautiful wreaths that will last well into the New Year.

For more information, contact a 4-H Club Member or the agent, Matthew McClellan, at 704-216-8970.  Orders will be accepted until Nov. 15.

Toi N. Degree is a Family & Consumer Education Agent for Rowan County Cooperative Extension.  You may reach her at 704-216-8970, or email  toi_degree@ncsu.edu

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