10 Game-Changing Christmas Tree Decorating Hacks

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Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree... why do you never look quite right? When your vision for your tree doesn't match up with reality, it's enough to turn anyone into a Grinch. Not this year—with the help of some seriously easy decorating hacks, you'll be channeling Cindy Lou Who's holiday vibes by the time the tree is done.

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Young woman decorating the Christmas tree
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Work From the Top Down

Pets and toddlers may admire the lower branches of your Christmas tree, but most people's attention will be drawn to the middle and top. A messy tangle of lights or sparse patches of branches will be especially noticeable near the top of the tree. Start from the top when stringing lights, and hang your favorite and most attractive ornaments near the top too. Not only will they be eye level for most people, but they'll be safer from those curious pets and toddlers.

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Boy decorating the Christmas tree
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Add Lights Vertically

Most people wrap their lights around the tree in a horizontal spiral motion. This method works well, but a lot of the bulbs end up buried deep in the branches where their sparkle is dimmed. Hanging lights vertically tends to leave them more exposed, maximizing their light.

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Woman holding Christmas bauble in front of illuminated Christmas tree
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Hang Large Ornaments First

There are a few reasons why it makes sense to hang all your large ornaments before moving onto the smaller pieces. For one, some of your larger ornaments may also be your heaviest, so you'll want to reserve all the sturdiest branches for them. This method also lets you make sure that the most noticeable ornaments are evenly spaced before adding smaller, less noticeable accents.

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Christmas Bauble hanging on Christmas tree
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Layer Ornaments

Hanging a single layer of ornaments all around the tree looks nice, but also a little bit like the tree was decorated by a machine. Creating layers gives the tree more visual impact. Don't be afraid to hang a few small ornaments just in front of a larger one, or to cluster a few small ornaments on the same branch.

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Close-Up Of Disco Ball On Christmas Tree
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Enhance Lights With Mirror Ornaments

Let there be light! To decorate a tree that truly glitters, pair twinkle lights with mirrored ornaments. They'll catch and reflect the light in a way that makes your tree practically glow in a dim room.

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Kitsch 70s style decorated Christmas Tree
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Fill Gaps With Tinsel

Tinsel is the secret ingredient for many a lazy Christmas tree decorator. It hides a multitude of sins and is generally super cheap. If you lack the energy and/or ornaments to cover the entire tree, stand back and squint to identify the areas that seem sparse. Strategically drape tinsel over those areas and call it a day.

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Cat sitting on armchair beside Christmas tree at home
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Prop It Up for Height

It may technically only stand 3 or 4 feet tall, but even a small Christmas tree deserves to be the star of the room. Give shorter trees additional height by propping them up. Position a tree on a folding table or stack of crates, hidden with a festive Christmas tablecloth. Or fill a large holiday basket with books or boxes to create a stable base, and set the tree right on top.

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Christmas pine with gingerbread cookies and cinnamon
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Appeal to the Sense of Smell

The perfect Christmas tree appeals to the senses of sight, touch and smell. Boost your tree's festive scent by making your own cinnamon ornaments to hang from its branches. For an artificial tree that lacks that real-tree pine smell, fake it by hanging scented Christmas sticks and/or by tucking real pine branches in among the artificials.

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