Dragging out boxes of Christmas ornaments and untangling the lights shouldn’t make you sigh heavily. If it does, it’s time to reevaluate your tree trimming process. Remember, ’tis the season to be joyful! Um, right?
So to start off on the right foot, let’s give ye olde yuletide tradition of tree trimming a quick review and see where you can make some adjustments. Here are eight mistakes many people make trimming their tree that you should try to avoid—all the better to preserve your sanity this season!
1. Picking a tree that’s too large
Consider the size of your tree. Does it really have to be the same 7-footer every year?
“It all depends on what you can handle, but sometimes it’s just as nice to have a mini tree as it is to get a floor-to-ceiling one—there’s no need to stress when it comes to the size,” explains Karen Gray-Plaisted of Design Solutions KGP.
If you’re going to do a fake tree, this small, pre-lit version stands at a reasonable 4 feet ($33, Home Depot).
2. Trying to decorate your tree all in one shot
Hauling the tree inside, wrestling with the stand, and then dealing with lights and ornaments are too much to accomplish in one sitting. Instead, go about the process in stages, even over the course of a few days.
“It’s best to bring in the tree and then let it be for a day or more so the boughs relax and open after being wrapped up,” says Gray-Plaisted.
Once the tree has had a chance to acclimate to your home, you might start off by checking the lights to determine if there are bulbs not working. You could also check to see that you have the right supplies to begin decorating, including enough wire hooks, fresh candy canes, and a trash bag for anything that broke while in storage over the summer.
3. Squeezing the tree into too tight a spot
The tree is the star, say the pros, so give it breathing room.
“Instead of tucking the tree in a small spot, be prepared to rearrange the furniture to make adequate space,” urges Rhianna Miller, a designer with RubberMulch.
The ideal place for it might be one where you can easily see it from other rooms or where it’s visible by the window for passers-by to view, she adds.
4. Not using enough lights
When it doubt, add more lights—and then go ahead and double that number, says Miller.
“The lighting rule is 100 lights per foot, and I like to multiply that,” reports Jamie Novak, author of “Keep This Toss That” and an organizing pro.
And wrapping them around the tree like it’s a barbershop pole is another no-no.
“For maximum impact, weave lights along the branches in and out from the trunk,” says Novak.
5. Hanging every single ornament, even if it’s broken or in bad shape
Keeping old, broken ornaments year after year is just plain sad.
“If they’re special, take a picture and then let them go, because they’re not going to look any better after another year in storage,” notes Novak.
And putting every single thing you own (or that your child made when she was 4) on the tree is also another common mistake.
“It’s perfectly fine to alternate your trimmings and do something a little different each year,” reminds Miller.
6. Cheaping out on the Christmas tree stand
Ever decorate your tree and get it perfect, only to have it topple? Blame your tree-climbing cat all you want, but it could also be that you chose too small and rickety a tree stand to keep your pine upright. Make sure to get a sturdy tree stand to do the job, like this one ($59, Walmart)
7. Losing track of decorations
This one’s big, so repeat after us: Label, label, label.
“Always put the number of boxes in all, so ‘box 1 of 5,’” says Novak. And storing decorations with labels for where you use them is another smart move.
“Create a box for the mantel, one for the entryway or front door, and one for your outdoor lights and decorations, and this way everything’s together and you don’t have to sort through each box just to decorate one area,” she explains. For breakables, try this cubby-filled holder ($25, Amazon).
8. Doing it alone
When it comes to decorations, delegate. If you make assignments, everyone will have a job and the bulk of the work won’t be left to one person. Get someone to take charge of the lights and have someone else work on tinsel. A third person could string popcorn or cranberries, if that’s your thing.
Finally, let the whole family have a chance to hang ornaments. Stash the more delicate, breakable baubles, and dole out the rest to the kids so everyone’s got a task to do.