how to make your christmas tree

For the first time, I have had to do our family Christmas tree at my parent’s place alone. All my other brothers are out of the country and my parents wouldn’t be bothered by my supposedly picky way of doing things, something I probably got from my mother.

The tree that we have is more than six years old I think, I still remember that time about a week or two before Christmas that I bought that tree and carried it about five or seven blocks home from the mall. It’s about six feet tall I think, plus or minus half a foot depending on how you fluff the top. Some of the trunk parts are already rusted and it has a characteristic lean to it no matter what you do, but it still serves its purpose; a tree is a tree is a tree, green branches and needles and all made of the sam material as floor brushes and toothbrushes I think.

We never donned it in silver before, most of the stuff I accumulated over the years would be a mix of golds and reds, balls and mirror balls in different sizes. I have always favored bead garlands, we got them in silver, golds and reds, and oddly enough one year, in uncharacteristic purplish plum I think. I was not too big on adding too much color on it, and that’s in part that half of the brothers are color-blind anyway, so at least reds and greens are easily discernible.

Another year I was able to salvage some decor from work, deep green velvet ribbons trimmed with gold beads, and that I think worked well with the rest of the stash that time, not without looking a bit garish though. Last year was the year of the orange sinamay with strips of gold woven in, and then I knew that the kitsch shit just hit the fan. But in spite of that, I always loved it.

I never had that much time of late to do anything crafty except when season like this came, so I enjoy every moment that I get the chance to do so. Admittedly, I was wanting to do a different concept for this year’s tree, but since I did not have much time to shop around for stuff, I had to go with the easy and cheaper theme.

I stumbled upon cheap snowflake decor this year, running at a cost of less than Php10 per piece. I got about 45 the first time, only to find out that some other smaller store in Ever Gotesco was selling the same sets for almost Php7 per piece. So I got another thirty pieces. A couple of threads of bead garlands cut up into small strings and that’s it. I also had to get hooks for the stuff, good enough that there were sets of 120 pieces already available locally.

I am still thinking if I have to add the old balls on to the tree, I’ll have to check how it looks in the daylight. Since this started off as a how-to piece, I’ll be sharing my few rules on how to get the most out of what you have for your tree:

  1. Do an inventory of what you have and what you need to get. Pretty straightforward. Our tree has always been a mishmash of old and new, and it doesn’t make sense that much to completely junk everything that you got each year. But you don;t need to throw out everything that you don;t need or looks old anymore; who knows how you can figure out how to upcycle them the next season.
  2. Start with a nicely fluffed tree. Natural trees are unheard of in this part of the globe, so most trees are made of plastic. Sometimes in storage they get squished to fit the most unusual storage spaces (i.e. inside the bed), and it just takes a good fluffing to make sure they look like new. Also, a properly setup  and fluffed tree would make it easier to plan out the decorations you’re putting on it later.
  3. I am a firm believer in putting on the lights first before any of the trimmings. A properly lit tree is a good one, and sometimes, great trees just stand on its own with the most minimal of trimmings and just nicely spread lights. If you are using flashing lights on your tree, make sure to arrange it in such a way that when you actually turn them on, it would not cut your tree up into several flashing segments. That looks just off. Colored lights would be nice, but I’d rather keep them simple and classical with the basics, either yellow or red, or white, depending on what kind of motif you’re aiming for.
  4. Once you got your lights installed, trim the tree with the lights turned on, that way you can see the full effect of the lights on your decor. I hate it when people trim just one side of the tree especially if they would end up shoving it in some corner of the room. I believe in trimming the tree in the round, even if some of the decor would be facing the wall. It looks more polished that way, and it is actually easier to pick a good side than just plan out the “good side” well ahead.
  5. There’s no specific way of trimming the tree, it depends on how crowded or bare you’d want your tree to be. I prefer mine a bit crowded, and I don’t mind if some of the trimmings are fairly closer to each other. I try to put the trimmings one type at a time, starting with the garlands. It doesn’t matter what garlands you use, but usually when you put them on last, they tend to cut up the tree or cover most of the other baubles that you’ve already put on first. I do garlands first, big items next and go down in size from there. I try to keep a balance with each type of decor on the tree, not specifically the whole tree entirely. That way, it’s easier to edit or stop when you feel that the tree can no longer handle it, or looks already too crowded.
  6. Once you have everything in place, you may opt to adjust the lighting a bit to have some of them peeking out, and also adjust some of the trims by filling in spaces. Some spaces are best filled with bows or ribbons, but it’s not part of your theme, like what we have on ours this year, it’d best to adjust some of the branches to cover up accordingly.
  7. The best way to appreciate your completed tree would be to turn on all of the lights and just look at it from a distance with the external lights on. I think a well decorated tree should look good with the lights on or off, in the day or in the night.

There you go. Four hours and close to a hundred different trims later, I finish our tree for this year. I’ll still check it out by next week if it would still need other trims but I guess this should work for now. I’ll be posting more pictures of it then.


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