How to decorate your Christmas tree in 10 easy steps

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Christmas tree decorating season has begun and the reason mine is still waiting is because the girls are not yet back from boarding school to do the decorating. But is there a right way or a wrong way to decorate a Christmas tree, and how can you make yours look fit for a Harrods window display? Telegraph UK has spoken to experts at John Lewis for some help. Here is their 10 step "treetorial" on how to decorate a Christmas tree like a pro.  

Step 1 - Pick a location

Real or artificial, you need to think carefully about where to position your tree, especially if space is at a premium in your home. Ideally it will be near a plug socket, to avoid the need for unsightly extension leads, or perhaps near a window so all your neighbours can admire your handiwork.
Re-arrange furniture if necessary and try not to block any thoroughfares. You don't want
wagging tails and little fingers messing with your festive foliage. If you've got a real tree, pick a location that's as cool as possible (away from radiators and fires ideally). This will prevent it from drying out ahead of the big day. 

Step 2 - Measure up

Once you’ve found the perfect space, measure the width, depth and ceiling height and don’t forget to factor-in the height of your tree stand and your decorative topper too. Give your tree plenty of room so its branches hang freely and you can decorate all around.
Tip: If you've got a real tree that's too tall, always trim it from the bottom so it maintains its triangular shape.

Step 3 - Fluffing

Fluff those branches. Yes, that's official advice from Christmas experts at John Lewis who say artificial trees especially need serious "fluffing". (You'd probably need "fluffing" too if you'd been squashed in a cardboard box in the loft for 12 months.)
John Lewis assistant buyer Christmas Scott Bartle advise: "Spend 45 minutes putting your tree together and fluffing the branches to give it that full and authentic look. It's all in the preparation. If you've fluffed your tree and the lights are even, you can't go wrong." Simple. 

Step 4 - Let there be light

Make sure you spend a good half an hour or so getting your Christmas lights positioned just right. Start from the top and work your way down, weaving them around every major branch and leaving about six inches between the loops. 
How many do you need? Mr Bartle says you can never have too many. "We recommend at least 170 lights per metre of tree," he says. "That's the absolute minimum. Personally I'd put 1,000 lights on a 6ft tree. The more the better." 
If you need new lights, it might be worth investing in copper wire lights - they're much less likely to break, give a cleaner, crisper and brighter light - plus you'll barely notice the wire on the tree.
Tip: Protect your sanity and make sure the lights are working before you put them on.

Step 5 - Colour scheme

Picking colours that go together and staying "on-theme" can be a minefield for the creatively inept. If in doubt, keep it simple. 
Reds, greens and golds fit traditional-style rooms. Use yellow and white lights as LED lights can give a blue tinge. You could go for a wintery look using lots of silver, blue and purple, or for a truly minimalist tree choose just white and silver decorations. 
John Lewis has a variety of different themes if you want a starting point, including Ruskin (“heritage patterns, natural motifs and rich colours”); Snowshill (“natural materials bring the outside in”); and Helsinki (“the quiet beauty of the forest”).
Tip: Variety is key - don't go too matchy, matchy with your theme and decorations.

Step 6 - Garland

Either beads, ribbon or foil, garlands add texture to your tree. Again, start from the top and work your way round. You'll need two strands of garland for every vertical foot of tree.
Tip: It's best to do this before the baubles and other decorations, so you don't knock them off.

Step 7 - Baubles

Now here's the fun bit. When hanging baubles, start from the inside of your tree and work out. Start with plain-coloured baubles as a base, (a cheaper, multi-pack is ideal) adding in more decorative, expensive baubles later.  
Hang the biggest ornaments deeper into the tree to give it depth, and smaller ones on the ends of branches. Space them evenly and use a variety of shapes and sizes.  
If you find a bauble that you like, Mr Bartle suggests buying them in multiples of three because it will give your tree balance. Never throw out old decorations either, as they might fit your colour scheme in a few years - plus they serve as lovely memories. Having said that, don't adorn your tree with every decoration you can find - be selective. 
Tip: Move expensive, glass baubles to the top  - you know what will happen to them otherwise. 
Step 8 - Tree skirt 
Don't embarrass your tree and leave it without a skirt. Unless you want everyone to see your extension lead and the ugly plastic tree holder, you'll definitely need one. Tree skirts also catch pine needles if you've got a real tree. 
"Who wants to see the workings of their artificial tree. It takes away the realness of it. Tree skirts hide wires and it makes it look much cleaner and tidier," Mr Bartle says. Noted. 

Step 9 - Topper

Now for the crowning touch to your festive masterpiece - an eye-catching Christmas tree topper. 
Traditional topper options have their roots in religion - the star representing the Star of Bethlehem which guided the Three Kings to baby Jesus, while the angel symbolises the angels who announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds. 
If you're not keen on either of these, there's lots of other options on the market to suit all tastes, including personalised toppers, snowflakes and birds. (Apparently peacocks and flamingos are on trend this year).
Tip: Beware of toppers that are heavy - they will have to sit on the flimsiest part of your tree for several weeks so make sure your topper isn't in danger of toppling. 
'Well, for us Nigerians, number 10 below does not really apply or does it?' Naijas decorate 1 tree and that's it, we sit down and marvel and admire and remember Christmas.

Step 10 - Decorate remaining trees

All the decorations are on and you're quite pleased with your efforts. Now's the time to sit back with a cuppa and marvel at your masterpiece, right? Nope, afraid not. If you're intent on keeping up with the Joneses, you're going to have to decorate two more trees. 
A true three-tree household will have beautifully decorated do-not-touch-for-fear-of-life "show" tree, (usually in the lounge), that can be admired by the neighbours, and under which Father Christmas will deposit his haul.
The second tree will be child-and-dog proof, sitting well out of public view in the family room or play room. The perfect place for multi-coloured fairy lights, tinsel, charming, but slightly scruffy-looking toilet roll angels and garish plastic baubles.
The third tree (usually potted, about a foot tall) will sit on a windowsill or dresser in the kitchen.
Finally, hanging a wreath on the door makes the family so Christmassy and classy.

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