From finials to heavy kugels, learn how to best add your decorations to the tree.
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The tradition of trimming the Christmas tree is one that families look forward to every year. Ornaments come in all shapes and sizes and are made from different materials. What's great about decorating your tree, though, is that you don't have to include only the same type of ornament. "It's always really important to anchor your tree with a series of cohesive ornaments throughout—whether you pick a single color, shape, or texture, this will create a canvas for the more significant or sentimental ornaments to shine while pulling everything together as a whole," says Malorie Goldberg of Noa Blake Design. "We love to see a tree dressed in traditional metallic gold or silver balls, filling in the gaps with ornaments that really mean something."

To better understand different ornaments and how to hang each type, follow our tips and tricks.

woman decorating Christmas tree
Credit: Rebecca Nelson / Getty Images

Ornaments by Type

Your Christmas tree can feature glass balls or shaped glass ornaments, lightweight ornaments with personalized photos, or homemade ornaments made from clay or paper. The best way to hang each ornament depends on its weight and shape, as well as the strength of your Christmas tree's boughs. Heavier ornaments, for example, should be placed deeper into the branches while lightweight ornaments can be placed closer to the ends of a branch without running the risk of falling off.

"Each time you start to think about hanging ornaments, choose the hanging material and keep it consistent. Every ornament can be different but if they're all hung from heavy gold yarn, black cord, or metal wire, then the overall decoration will feel cohesive and thoughtful," explains Goldberg, adding that "floral wire is a great insider trick." Instead of hanging a fragile or antique ornament from a hook (far too easy for curious children or pets to knock loose), secure it with a length of 28-gauge wire ($10.69, Thread wire through hanging loop, wrap around a branch, and twist ends. The best part is you can hang each decoration at exactly the perfect height.

Lightweight ornaments, such as those made from ribbon or paper, can be made to seemingly suspend from ribbon alone, but they are affixed with wire to prevent them from slipping off should the tree get jostled while unifying the color scheme. To make a ribbon hanger, tie 3/8-inch ribbon ($3.99, lengthwise around a credit-card–size piece of stiff paper, knot at the bottom, and trim the ends with scissors. Slip the ribbon loop off and attach to wire. Thread the wire and ribbon loop through the ornament's metal ring, pulling taut, wrapping the wire around the branch to hold it in place. If you want ornaments to hang closer to the branch, shorten the ribbon by wrapping a bit around the bough before securing the wire.

Edible ornaments, such as dried orange slices, can be banded in ribbon attached by brass upholstery tacks ($12.90 for 500, with wire for hanging wrapped around the tack before pressing into the fruit.

How to Hang Them on the Tree

When it comes time to hang your ornaments, Goldberg recommends starting with the heaviest ornaments toward the inside of the tree and working your way out. "Start with the ornaments that carry the most weight physically or have the largest presence and place them closer to the trunk where branches are heftier and more stable. Then work your way out from there, leaving the daintiest and lightest ornaments for the outer branches," she says. Natural accents like glittery pinecones and glass icicles should be fastened with wire directly to the branches—without ribbon—to appear as if they naturally hang from the tree.

Styling for a Cohesive Look

Once you place your ornaments around the tree, you can add some final touches that will make your tree really stand out. Goldberg recommends including some sparkle "but not too much." Metallics should be simple and solid, and it's best to limit how much glitter and faceted crystal is added to the tree. "If everything shines, nothing will stand out," she says. But it doesn't have to just be sparkly elements to accent your tree. "Adding texture around your ornaments like pheasant feathers or leather ribbon will give more traditional ornaments (or alternatively, more glitzy ornaments), a little bit of edge and make the tree feel fresh," Goldberg says. These final touches to your tree will help to bring the whole look together.


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