For many years I specialized as a floral designer and as far as glitz and glamour were concerned, Christmas was the pièce de résistance. Creating a Winter Wonderland here in the Arizona desert was an enjoyable challenge every year, but after the 20th tree or so, I decided it was time to get organized and develop a repeatable set-up process. So before you trim your tree, grapple with your garland and wrestle with your wreaths, here are a few tips to maximize your results without turning into Ebenezer.


Trimming the Tree

  • Set the tree up and placed in the desired spot.

  • Before lighting an artificial tree, stand back: can you see the metal trunk? If so, cut up a similar garland into various lengths and fill in the spots that are skimpy. You can do this with a real tree as well. Fluff the branches up, down and sideways. Plug the lights in before you put them on the tree. This helps you spread the lights evenly and it insures that all of the strands work.


  • To string the lights, wear gardening gloves and an apron. This will save your manicure and protect your hands and clothes. Have black or green pipe cleaners and wire cutters on hand.


  • When lighting a tree, don’t get chintzy. For a soft subdued light, prepare 100 twinkles for every vertical foot of your tree. For a show-stopping glamorous glow, use 300 twinkles per foot.


  • Contrary to popular belief, DO NOT twist them around the branches. They become fixed into place and you have less control of them. By keeping them loose, you can pull them over an ornament to maximize their visibility. Start at the bottom, close to the trunk.

  • Lay a strand up one side of the branch and when you have reached the tip, loosely loop it under once and then continue back down the same branch.

  • If you are looking for an intense glow, repeat this step before moving to the next branch.

  • Use a pipe cleaner if a stubborn strand won’t stay where you need it. Move to the next branch and repeat this process until you are at the top of the tree.

  • Step back from the tree and squint until the tree is blurry. Wherever you see dark holes on the tree, rearrange the lights as necessary to fill the gap.


    • Add your ornaments and you’re ready to enjoy.



Channan Warrell

Interior Designer Allied Member ASID

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