Use these tricks to create a dazzling display.
Check the lights. Plug in each set and weed out any strands that are cracked or frayed or have broken or burned-out bulbs. Leave the lights lit when you are hanging them so you can see dark spots in the tree.
String them wisely. Instead of wrapping lights all the way aroud the tree, which usually results in a tangle, divide the tree vertically into three sections and string the lights by section. Starting at the top, weave a strand back and forth across that triangular area, taking care not to cross the cord over itself. Repeat to fill in the remaining two sections.
Start high. Attach the tree topper next, before hanging ornaments. This way you won't lean into decorations you've already placed in the tree. If you have trouble getting the topper to sit straight, you might need to trim a little off the tree top. You can also wrap aluminum foil around the top to create a tighter fit.
Add the garland. Working from the top down, drape strands loosley around the tree to create pretty curves and avoid the "sausage effect": boughs bulging between tightly wrapped strands.
Organize your ornaments. Lay them all out on a table. If you have a lot of one type, such as metallic balls or a dominant color, hang those first, spreading them evenly all over the tree. Place the largest ornaments next, dispersing them as above. Fill in the gaps with smaller decorations. Mixing up the ornament sizes, rather than putting all the big ones at the bottom and small ones at the top, creates balance and draws the eye through the whole display.
Dress up the base. Finish the display with a tree skirt. If you don't ahev one, you may subsititute a pretty blanket, tablecloth or fabric remnant instead. A Christmas tree can look lonely before there are presents underneath, so consider arranging potted pointsettias or large pinecones around the trunk.
Photo credit: Tumblr/Santa's Working Overtime