Decorating Tips

Lights-some handy guides for estimating the number of lights.

  • for hedges: one set for every 4 feet of hedge.
  • for outlining windows, porches and fences: one set every 23 feet (or add up the distance and check against the package details)
  • for trees: under 6 feet–one set for every foot of tree, over 6 feet, two sets for every foot of tree

Remember that manufacturers recommend only 3 strands plugged end to end (you can get more on a tree by using an extension cord with multiple outlets.)
The more lights–the more power it uses, the more heat it uses the more water the fresh tree will need to keep it from drying out. Try to use mini lights or ‘cool’ burning lights.
If you can’t fix the lights by replacing the bulbs–it is usually wise to start with fresh.


  • The amount of garland can be estimated—one 9’ garland for every foot or foot and a half of tree.
  • The amount of garland goes up if you droop the garland in long loops or decorate the tree on all sides. (Why decorate the back of the tree when it sits in the corner?).
  • For example, in our shop if we have a 7 foot tree to decorate in the corner (about a third of the tree)–it uses 4-5 garlands that are 9’ long. If half the tree is decorated–it takes 7-10 garlands, and if you are decorating it on all sides……10 to 14..
  • If you want to use garland effeciently–wire it to the underside of the branches with ornament hooks–it won’t slide off the tree and it goes further around the tree..


  • When decorating a tree for retail–use uneven number of ornaments–for example 5 or 7 of a kind. Similar ornaments need to be placed between one and one and a half feet apart–you should be able to see three ornaments from any angle of view.
  • If you put the ornaments in a zig zag pattern back and forth across a tree–the customers eye will follow the pattern (we tend to try to find similar patterns and objects when scanning a scene.)
  • ‘Movement’ is the name of the game. The garland can control how much movement is in the tree, the more slope the faster the customer stares at the tree–if the garland is absolutely even–the longer the customer inspects the tree. Ergo–if you have only a few ornaments–have the customer look faster, if you have mucho ornaments–slow the looking time down. (There are even and ‘ornamoters’ which plug into a mini light sockets and rotate the ornaments around or up and down—gets attention and highlights that special ornament.)
  • Don’t be afraid to make the ornaments come in and out of the tree–some need to be in the background, some up front–again get the customer to move their eyes around the tree.
  • Themes help to sell ornaments–have the tree tell a story–include humor. Some customers are only looking for a color–that can be a theme in itself. The other thing to include is contrast–light with dark, can’t see one without the other.
  • If all else fails, and you have an astonishing variety of ornaments, one of the neatest tricks is to pick a ‘theme’ ribbon. Purchase several bolts–it takes 10-12 yds to do a small tree (5-6’) double that amount as you go larger. Use it as garland, or make lots of bows and place them evenly all over the tree. Even if your ornaments do not match, the ribbon will tie the tree together.
  • Last but not least–remember scale–big ornaments on large trees, small on small trees. If you must put a large ornament on a small tree–put it in the bottom third and towards the interior of the tree. If you are decorating a large tree 9’ and up…the small ornaments get lost at the top, keep them within your reach from the ground and believe it or not-put fewer but larger ornaments towards the top.
  • Your ‘angel’ on top will look spectacular (make sure she is looking down if you a doing a 9’ or taller tree–looking up her skirt may spoil the effect you are going for.)
  • Be creative–if the tree is too short, put it up on blocks and make a unique display at the foot. If you have a really neat item that it large ( Santa, nativity, sleigh, reindeer, dolls, Noah’s ark….)you name it –put it in the tree. If a tree has a ‘hole’ in it , we look at it as an opportunity to display something different–usually counter items which take an inordinate amount of flat surface in the shop.
  • Food items on the tree are great–cookies, popcorn balls, cinnamon sticks even the proverbial candy cane, just remember that precocious child from next door will probably eat these items, make them safe or put them up ( we even had a peppermint eating Chihuahua who claimed the bottom two feet of candy canes each year.)