Trimming the Tree With Style This Christmas

cindy beyer revised

This is a sponsored column by Cindy Beyer, ASID,NCIDQ. Beyer is a Reston-based interior designer and Reston Now Best Reston Business Award winner. Find her online at

Happy Holidays to all.  By now we are well into the holiday decorating season and after decorating three trees, I thought I’d pass on to you some tips on tree trimming from a designer’s point of view.

To start, I use a pre-lit artificial tree. I prefer an artificial over a real one for many reasons. First, the ornaments stay safe and in place instead of rolling off fragile limbs thus eliminating breakage. Second, the tree never droops. But most of all, we are preserving nature by going with an artificial tree.

I purchased my most recent tree from Balsam Hill, but most places sell pre-lit trees. When choosing your tree, it is important to calculate the bottom diameter as well as the total height (don’t forget the tree topper in your overall height). The bigger the tree, the wider the base.  My ceiling height called for a taller tree, but I did not have the necessary floor space, so I opted for a slim or skinny tree, which is less wide at the bottom.

I also use outlet wireless remotes on my tree, eliminating the need to crawl under the tree to plug it in and out. Wireless plugs are also a great way to plug in all of your other holiday lights inside as well as outside.

A good tip is to label the remotes to the plugs so you are not searching around for the correct remote every time you want to turn it on and off. When I pack up the tree after the holidays, I put all of the plugs, remotes and extension cords in the same storage container.

The first ornament I hang on my pre-lit tree are simple glass balls. I usually use about 6-8 dozen of three similar colors (my tree tends to fall in the bronze, cream and gold hues). The balls serve as a good source of shimmer and color, as well as filler at an affordable price. These can be plain or glittered and any shape or size.  A good tip is to hang the smaller balls near the top of the tree — and don’t forget to hang them inside as well. Standing back from the tree occasionally will help you to determine where you need the balls placed.

Next, I unpack all other ornaments and sort them out on big towels on my table. This way I am able to pick and choose as I go along. It is always fun to unwrap each ornament and remember where you purchased it or who gave it to you. I pick a few and put them in a basket to climb the ladder to hang. This helps save your legs. Trust me, you will thank yourself the next morning.

Don’t forget to hide the pickle ornament. According to tradition, the pickle is the last ornament to hang on the tree. The first child to find it in the morning gets an extra gift from Santa. Actually, there are two stories about the origin of the pickle ornament.  It’s worth a Google.

For the finishing touches, I add feathers and plumes as well as artificial fruit, magnolia blossoms, and glittery stars. Bows are also a good and inexpensive addition to your tree as well. I am always looking for new and different pieces for my trees. The possibilities are endless. Be creative and have fun!

If you would like more tree trimming or design tips feel free to email me at [email protected].

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