Christmas Tree Decorating

Christmas time is tree decorating time.
We have gathered together some history and some fun Christmas tree decorating ideas for you.
Get the whole family together and spend an evening or an afternoon with the eggnog and the tree!!

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Christmas Tree history:

So how did the Tree become part of Christmas?

One legend tells of St. Boniface who encountered some German pagans about to sacrifice a child at the base of an Oak tree. He cut down the Oak to prevent the sacrifice and a Fir tree grew in its place. St Boniface told the pagans it was the Tree of Life and represented Christ.

Another legend ascribes the Christmas tree to Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism. The legend tells how Luther saw the stars shining through the branches of a forest. The beauty of this so impressed him that he cut down a small evergreen and brought it into his home to recreate the scene using lighted candles on the tree's branches to represent the twinkling night stars.

Germany seems to have started the use of a decorated tree as part of the holiday celebration. When trees were scarce a wooden pyramid was sometimes used and this would be decorated with branches and candles.

In Britain the Christmas tree tradition was popularised in 1841 by Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, (both of German descent), who decorated a tree at Windsor Castle with candles, fruits, gingerbread and sweets.

The use of the Christmas tree spread to America with German immigrants. Nowadays the Christmas tree, (real or synthetic), is seen worldwide in homes, Churches, workplaces and cities.

A famous tree is the one placed every year in Trafalgar Square, London, a gift from the people of Norway in gratitude for the help that Britain gave during World War II.

Tree Care Hints

Decide on where you will place the tree. Will it be seen from all sides or will some of it be up against a wall? Be sure to choose a spot away from heat sources, such as TVs, fireplaces, radiators and air ducts. Place the tree clear of doors. Measure the height available in the room where the tree will be placed.

If you are getting a real tree, choose a fresh one. A fresh tree will have a healthy green appearance with few browning needles. Needles should be flexible and not fall off if you run a branch through your hand. Raise the tree a few inches off the ground and drop it on the butt end. Green needles should not drop off the tree.

Keep your tree fresh throughout the holiday season. If you are not putting the tree up right away store it in an unheated garage or some other area out of the wind and cold (freezing) temperatures. Make a fresh one inch cut on the butt end and place the tree in a bucket of warm water. When you decide to bring the tree indoors, make another fresh one inch cut and place the tree in a sturdy stand that holds at least 1/2 gallon of water. Be sure to keep the water level about the base of the tree.

Check all Christmas tree lights for worn electrical cords. Use UL approved electrical decorations and cords. Unplug tree lights at night. Miniature lights produce less heat and reduce the drying effect on the tree.

How Many Lights Do I Need?

The starting point is 100 lights for each foot of tree. For example, if you have a 7 foot tree, you will want to have a minimum of 700 lights. You will want to add additional strands if your tree is fuller than average, or if you like a heavily lighted tree.

Before you place a single light on the tree, you must test your lights. Plug each strand in to make sure it is working. Lights go on the tree first—before tree toppers, ornaments or anything else. Plug them in before you start. It's much easier to position a lighted strand.

Placing Lights on the Tree Starting at the base, wrap the cord around the branch until you reach the tip. Wrap back toward the base, wrapping individual branches as you go.

Have you ever noticed how some trees have wonderful depth and dimension when lighted? That effect is achieved by wrapping lights around the branches. To do this, you will want to start with a special multiple-socket extension cord, often called a light controller or holiday hookup.

For most trees, you'll want to buy a green cord, although white is available for use with white or silver trees. You want it to be as unobtrusive as possible. Start by attaching the cord to the trunk of the tree with colorless twine or a green pipe cleaner. This will give you a cord that runs vertically down your tree, with outlets spaced at regular intervals.
Once the cord is secured, grab a string of lights and start at the top of the tree. Plug the strand into an outlet near the top. Starting at the base of a branch, wrap the cord around the branch. Continue until you reach the tip of the branch, then wrap back toward the base. As you work out and back, wrap around a few individual branches. When you're back to the base, start on a new branch. This technique will give your tree dimension and depth, but make sure you don't overdo it.

You don't want to wrap the lights too loosely, because you don't want the wires to show, but don't put them too close together because you will use many more lights than you need to. With this technique you will not need to wrap every single branch. Just make sure you maintain consistency from the top of the tree to the bottom.

Step back frequently and view your work. Fill in gaps and holes as they occur. You will end up with a tree that almost looks as if it is lighted from the inside out. If using an artifical tree, spread and arrange branches as you go—it's easier than waiting until you're finished!

Theme Trees

Themtrees are gaining popularity every year. Many people find that theme trees allow further personalization of holiday decorating since they can be decorated with special collections or items of interest.

Often, a family adds a second tree and makes it a theme tree because
they don't want to part with their traditional tree and ornaments.
A theme can be anything.
Just think of something you like—a color, a decorating style, a shape—and start your theme from there.
There are so many ornaments available today that you'll find plenty of things to hang on your tree.
Here are some idea for theme trees.
Use one of these, or let your imagination run wild:
Angels and Cherubs - All colors, crocheted lace and other textures.
Bears - Tiny Teddy Bears all over.
Color Theme - Try Red, Gold, Blue, Winter White, Pink or any combination.
Country - handmade ornaments and craft pieces.
Fisherman - Tiny tackle boxes, nets and lures with fish ornaments.
Gardener - Tiny flowers and vegetables and small garden implements.
Handmade - Do a tree with all handmade ornaments.
Kids - Give your children their own tree and let them pick a theme.
Whether it's Barbie, Mickey, Looney Tunes or Teletubbies, you'll find plenty of decorations.
Kitchen Tree - Tiny utensils, teapots and pans, with a dishcloth as a tree skirt.
Southwestern - Chili pepper lights with cow, horse and 10-gallon hat ornaments.
Sports - For the fan in your home.
Victorian - Think hearts in pink, cream and gold and lots of lace.

Hanging Ornaments

When it comes to ornaments, anything goes.

Ornaments can be more than a ball with a hook.
Cards, ribbons, bells and dolls are all acceptable decorations for the tree.
If you like, add it!

To give your tree more dimension,
don't just place ornaments at the end of the branch.
It's tempting to do that, because you want everyone to see your beautiful ornaments,
but your tree will look much better
if you put ornaments everywhere—deep into the branches,
at the top and bottom of your tree.

Don't hang ornaments from light strands

a metal hook on a slightly frayed wire could start a fire.


Secure your ornaments on the tree by pinching the hanger closed after you've placed the ornament.
If you have an artificial tree, bend branches upward.
Garland, Tinsel and Icicles Again, anything goes.
If you're a fan of traditional tinsel, garland or icicles, you likely won't be swayed.
After all, that's part of your holiday tradition.

Give your tree a fresh look,
consider strings of popcorn, cranberries,
gold-colored beads, wire ribbon or bows.

When placing garland, don't arrange it in a rigid pattern.
Where the garland dips on one level,
let it go up on the level below.
Don't give in to the temptation to leave off garland entirely.
Your tree won't look finished.

Finishing Touches

Choose a huge bow, a glass tree topper, an angel or a star but make sure there's something at the top of your tree. Consider a nontraditional topper too; something that goes along with theme you've chosen. And don't forget the bottom of the tree. You need some kind of skirt underneath. Several yards of material can be bunched under the tree for a decorative skirt. If your tree has a country, handmade theme, use a quilt for a skirt. Run a train around the base of your tree or just stack wrapped packages everywhere. You can bet they'll be shaken every day!

 

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