The Art of Designing a Nell Hill’s Christmas Tree

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Between the early Kansas City snow that had our fireplaces roaring and the Christmas music we’ve got rocking in the shop, I’ve been feeling more and more in the holiday spirit! To me, nothing marks the start of the Christmas season quite like getting the tree up and decorated.  I love to get our tree up early so we have as much time as possible to enjoy it – plus, Brandon doesn’t want to do the heavy lifting of getting it into the living room without ample time for us to admire it.  While decorating our tree is a season highlight for me, I have heard that some of our visitors find themselves ho-ho-hopelessly stuck on how to get their trees looking like the ones we have in the shop. Fear not – I have gathered our favorite Nell Hill’s tree tips and tricks to get your tree looking display ready!

First things first, it’s all about the base! We use a variety of bases for our trees in the shop, so don’t be hesitant to try something outside of a traditional stand and tree skirt. One of our favorite ways to display our trees is by placing them in urns.  Not only is it visually elegant, but it also adds a bit more height to your tree without having to decorate an extra foot (or two) of space!

If you like a traditional tree stand, there are still ways to freshen your look.  We use scrap fabric and throws to create tree skirts that are fun and unexpected.  It’s a real eye-catcher and a great way to coordinate with the other textiles in your room!  We have used everything from leopard print to classic red and green plaids.  Using a simple piece of fabric or an inexpensive throw gives you the flexibility to change your look year after year and you can put the pieces to work for you in your home long after the holidays!

No space or time? A small tree doesn’t have to mean small impact.  Another good trick for those who have smaller trees is to place it on a table.  Not only will your container or basket containing the tree be better displayed but placing it on a table also creates the illusion of a full-sized tree.  This is a good way to keep breakage to a minimum if you have young kids or animals in the house as they won’t be able to reach the ornaments (except, perhaps, kitty cats)! I know with my toddler the less he can touch the ornaments the better for my stress levels!

Speaking of ornaments, there is an art to selecting just the right ones and placing them on the tree. Use varied sizes, textures and colors to create depth and add texture.  This can be as simple as choosing different finishes (like metallic, matte, sparkle, etc.) or even different shades of the same hue. Start by placing the largest ornaments first and fill in the blank spaces with smaller sizes.  Place the ornaments at different depths – not all of them should be on the edges of the branches! This will add dimension to your tree making it look fuller. 

Ribbon is another great way to add texture to your tree.  Instead of spiral wrapping, we like cutting various lengths of ribbon and securing them into bows or loops and then attaching to the tree individually.  This gives you more freedom when placing your ribbons and leads to less chance of getting tangled! While I certainly clove my plaids, we have been using lots of velvet ribbons around the shop and I adore the lux feel they add to our trees!

At the shop we tend to go a bit overboard with unexpected items in our trees, but that is part of the magic! Picks are a fun way to add a new element and some fullness to your tree. Lanterns and small trays holding figurines or other accents are other fun items that can spice up your tree! They are the perfect place to add (faux fire) candles for some extra glow!

Last but absolutely not least, our number one item to have on hand during the holidays is zip ties! Zip ties are our best friend when it comes to trimming our trees! They prevent drooping branches, sliding ribbons, breaking ornaments and a whole lot of stress. I cannot recommend using them enough!  When it’s time for your tree to come down, simply clip the zip ties below the head with a wire cutter and your ornaments and ribbons (and other décor) pop free!

What looks are you loving most this season? Do you use any unexpected elements in your trees? Share with me in the comments or show me on social media (use the hashtag #nellhills so I can find you)!  I can’t wait to see all the wonderful displays that you will create this year.  Until next time – happy holiday decorating!