Once you've chosen the perfect Christmas tree and brought it home, the next step is getting it to its designated spot in the house. A few preparatory measures can make this sometimes daunting job easier: To keep needles from dropping everywhere, wrap the tree in an old sheet as you carry it through the house; and avoid placing the tree near a source of heat or ventilation (which causes the needles to fall off and poses a fire hazard).

Tree Setup

1. If you don't put up the tree right away, wrap the stump in a damp towel and leave it in a cool, but not freezing, place.


2. Before you bring in the tree, make a fresh cut on the bottom of the trunk to remove any dried sap. Get it into a stand right away, and water.


3. A stand with four spouts is ideal because the stand can adjust to fit any tree.


4. Using a plastic tree bag will make cleanup easier: Just pull the bag up over the tree to carry it outside after the holidays.


5. While the tree is displayed, hide the tree bag with a tree skirt.


6. The tree and stand can be placed in a metal basin or a terra-cotta pot -- just make sure the resulting setup isn't top-heavy.


Freshly cut trees absorb as much as a gallon of water a day. Check the stand daily, and make sure the bottom of the trunk is always immersed. Before decorating the tree, place a sheet on the floor to catch needles. Put up lights and garlands first, ornaments last.

Lighting Technique

By individually wrapping branches with strands of lights, you can minimize exposed cords. For a 6-foot tree, you'll need about six strands with 100 lights each. Wear protective gloves and a long-sleeved shirt as you work -- the needles can be sharp.

Run an extension cord from an electrical outlet to the tree. Plug in the first strand of lights, and run it to the top of the tree. Wind the strand tightly around the topmost shoot and down to the nearest branch; then wrap the lights back around the same branch. Start another branch the same way, near the same level. Continue with this method, working your way down and around the tree, plugging in additional strands of lights as necessary.

Don't forget to unplug the lights when you go to bed each night.

Comments (12)

Martha Stewart Member
October 19, 2013
Putting lights onto the Christmas tree may take time, but the end results are worth the efforts. We put colored lights on our tree each year. White lights seem so commercial, we need to go back to the beautiful colors people used at this beautiful time of the year.
Martha Stewart Member
November 27, 2011
What's the best way to keep your Christmas tree drinking water (staying alive)
Martha Stewart Member
December 13, 2010
LED light look too fake, like ghost lights, went back the traditional white lights. Wrap the truck of the tree first so you won't have a gap look.
Martha Stewart Member
December 12, 2010
LED's are an absolute MUST for the environment, energy conservation, and to avoid the dreaded lights failure from plugging too many conventional lights into the same power source outlet.
Martha Stewart Member
December 12, 2010
LED's are an absolute MUST for the environment, energy conservation, and to avoid the dreaded lights failure from plugging too many conventional lights into the same power source outlet.
Martha Stewart Member
December 4, 2009
Wow! Talking about 4 hours to decorate a Christmas tree! For those who are short on time, there is a self-adjusting small Christmas tree stand that is automatic
Martha Stewart Member
December 21, 2008
Are you plugging all the lights into each other? Each light set has a maximum amount you can plug together or you will blow the fuses and, or, the lights. The box of each set will tell you.
Martha Stewart Member
December 4, 2008
Someone please help!!! I've had to put on lights 3 times this year because most or all the lights stop lighting after a matter of hours. The first 2 times the bottom strand (I start from the bottom) stayed lit. The third time, I bought all new lights. They went completely dark after 24 hours. Please tell me what I'm doing wrong. Thanks!
Martha Stewart Member
November 30, 2008
For years I have put lights on my tree "the Martha way". Drives my family crazy, but everyone always agrees that it is beautiful. I will need to change my ways this year after having unexpected open heart surgery mid October and that will drive me crazy. However, I will return to "Martha's way" next Christmas; because it looks so nice.
Martha Stewart Member
November 29, 2008
Icicle lights work well for lighting a tree too. You can wind the "icicles" out on to the branches and it's a bit quicker than using the regular strands of lights.
Martha Stewart Member
November 28, 2008
Amy is right. The key to any beautiful tree is how the lights go on. I have an artificial 7 1/2 foot tree. It came pre-lit with white lights. I then wrap each branch with colored lights. It takes me about 4 hours from start to finish, but once it is all done, I have nearly 1500 lights total(replacing standard strands with a few LED strands each year) before I even think about ornaments and garland. Each year at our annual Christmas Party marvels at it and I have no decorating talent.
Martha Stewart Member
December 1, 2007
Wrapping the branches in lights as is recommended here is absolutely gorgeous. Ever wonder how trees in magazines/movies/great displays are lit to look so good?? This is how. It's more work, but so pretty!