It has symbolised Christmas and Christmas Eve in Christian culture since time immemorial: the Christmas tree. When it is festively decorated, it brightens up rooms where families gather to celebrate this very special festivity together. Children’s eyes light up when the time finally comes for the candles on the tree to bathe everything in a warm light as it means: Father Christmas has been and the long-awaited giving out of presents can begin.
And as long as this tradition of decorating the tree at Christmas time exists, a whole variety of different customs and tastes will develop as far as tree decorations are concerned. In some families it is a long-cherished tradition to always decorate the Christmas tree (hanging ornaments) in the same colours, others love change and let their tree shine in a new festive light every year.
Regardless of whether tree decorations that have been passed down for generations hang on your tree, whether you use your children’s artwork or treat yourself to unusual new decorations in the latest Christmas trend every year, there are a few basic rules to observe when decorating the tree so that you and your family can enjoy an all-round successfully decorated Christmas tree.
Very few families still use a tree today that has been chopped down in the forest or grown in their own garden. Most trees are bought from the Christmas tree seller around the corner a few days before the big day. As a result it often arrives at its new home packed in meshing. The tree should be taken out of the meshing a few days before putting it up, so that the branches can settle and provide as horizontal a surface as possible for decorating with candles later on.
When the time comes to put it up it is best to place a wax cloth or old tablecloth under the Christmas tree stand. This provides a surface to place the presents on later, prevents wax from the candles dripping on the floor and makes it easier to tidy up any dropped pine needles after Christmas.
Make sure that the Christmas tree stand is well topped up with water so that you and your family can enjoy your tree for a long time. It should also stand in a stable and slip-proof position to prevent the tree from tipping over. For the tree to not start dropping its needles too early, it should not be placed too close to the heating or fireplace. Most types of trees also do not like a draught, so it is best not to leave the tree next to an open window for too long.
A large watering can with water should be kept near the tree to be able to extinguish it quickly in case of emergency, especially if you use real candles and have young children or dogs and cats.
Hanging the tree decorations properly
Once the tree is up you can get started on decorating it. If you want to use fairy lights it is recommended that you place these around the tree first, as you can get a good idea of the symmetry of the otherwise undecorated tree, there are no other tree decorations in the way when laying the cable and you can decorate over the unattractive cables afterwards. Make sure that the individual lights are placed as near to the outside as possible. Test that the fairy lights work before putting them up as any faulty bulbs are much easier to replace then.
If you have several differently sized Christmas baubles the tree looks more even if you use the large baubles at the bottom and the smaller Christmas baubles nearer the top. Christmas trees are often much denser towards the top and if you adjust the size of the baubles to this the tree looks more harmonious. If you would like to give the tree more depth, you can also hang baubles on the tree’s inner branches.
There are no limits to your imagination as far as the choice of colours is concerned. A tree in one colour, maybe broken up by a mixture of matt and shiny baubles, often looks more elegant. However, a tree decorated with different, harmonious colour shades looks more vibrant. The colour variations of trees every year are as different as peoples’ tastes.
Place the candles in their candleholders on the branches at the end. Make sure that there are not any baubles hanging over the candles, not even some distance away. The build up of heat and in particular soot should not be underestimated. When shiny baubles hang next to candles, the tree looks considerably more glamorous due to the reflected candle light. This also applies to tinsel. Caution should be exercised with angel hair and real candles though. Angel hair is often highly flammable and can be blown into candles by a light draught.
Cotton wool often looks more natural than artificial snow and is easier to remove again after Christmas. Don’t forget to completely remove all the tinsel before disposing of the tree. The environment will thank you.
With these simple tips your Christmas tree is sure to shine really magnificently this year when you and your loved ones gather around it to celebrate Christmas.