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How to make your Christmas tree Instagram-worthy

Orla Neligan of Cornershop Productions on how to create a show-stopping festive feature

Nothing says Happy Christmas quite like a stunning Christmas tree. It sets the tone for the rest of your decor and steals the show on Christmas morning. Sharing her know-how to help you elevate your tree to Instagram-worthy status is Orla Neligan from Cornershop Productions, who has crafted enchanting Christmas scenes for interior magazines and stores such as Arnotts and Brown Thomas. With her tips and tricks, you’ll be able to create a tree that’s positively show-stopping.

Give your tree some TLC

Whether you have an artificial or natural tree, always start by fluffing out the branches. Natural trees will have been wrapped in netting and artificial ones will be stored in boxes, so they’ll both need a little work to get them looking their best before you start decorating. This initial step will help your tree look fuller and more balanced.

When fluffing out the branches of a natural tree, start by gently bending and adjusting each branch, paying particular attention to those that appear flattened or crowded together. Work from the inside out and trim away broken or stray branches to give the tree a more symmetrical shape.

For artificial trees, extend each branch outward from its storage position, taking care to fan them out like the spokes of an umbrella. This process not only fills the gaps but also ensures that each branch contributes to the overall fullness of the tree. Proper fluffing will result in a harmonious structure that can withstand the weight of decorations and lights without losing its shape.


The more lights, the merrier

When selecting the right lights for your tree, keep in mind the colour temperature of the bulbs. Always opt for warm white lights to create a cosy, inviting glow. Cold, bluish lights will not create as inviting an atmosphere.

Neligan recommends using 100 lights for every foot of the tree. For instance, if you have a 7ft tree, you should aim for about 700 lights. This might seem like a lot but “you can never have enough,” she says.

Make sure to step back every so often to check your progress and look for any spots that need adjustment

To dress the tree with your lights, Neligan advises starting at the bottom near the socket, and wrap the lights horizontally. Keeping the lights on while you work allows you to see any gaps or dark areas that need attention. Make sure to step back every so often to check your progress and look for any spots that need adjustment. Don’t leave this step to the end, or you might have a lot of unravelling to do.

Choose a theme and stick to it

The best way to enhance your Christmas tree’s impact is to choose a theme, says Neligan. “Don’t put up every decoration you own, or you’ll end up with a bit of an eyesore.” Instead, she suggests choosing two or three complementary colours or a theme such as children’s ornaments or cherished family heirlooms. People often have favourite or sentimental ornaments that make the tree unique. Your tree should be an embodiment of your style. Whatever you choose, consistency is key.

Don’t feel you must buy a whole new look every year. Instead, it’s nicer and more interesting to accumulate decorations over time. Each year, consider adding a few new decorations to keep things fresh.

Christmas decorations have evolved beyond the traditional red, gold, green or silver palette. Today the options are endless, spanning blues, navy, metallics, pinks and teals, so creating a unique tree that reflects your particular style or taste has never been easier. But this variety can be overwhelming. To avoid getting lost in the sea of options, Neligan suggests using something such as Pinterest to create a mood board to plan your tree’s scheme. If you’re hosting Christmas, take some time in advance to refine your ideas, ensuring your tree reflects your style without getting lost down a Pinterest rabbit hole.

More is more

When decorating your Christmas tree, don’t be shy with the ornaments. According to online calculators, a 6ft tree can easily accommodate more than 250 baubles. This might sound like a lot and I don’t have anywhere near this amount of decorations. Neligan recommends slightly less at around 10 to 15 decorations per foot of your tree.

Place the larger ornaments towards the middle for depth and layer in smaller baubles around the outside. Top it off with ribbons, garlands, or anything else you fancy.

Paper accordion-style decorations are an excellent eco-friendly and space-saving option. They’re easy to pack away and store and they’re super versatile – you can use them year after year in various designs and colours. Plus, they add a lovely Scandinavian feel to your tree.

Have a go at making your own decorations. A dried orange garland, for example, is a fun way to involve the family. Slice some oranges, let them dry and string them together on a piece of twine. The pop of colour and the citrus scent will bring a fresh, festive vibe to your tree. When decorating your tree this Christmas, don’t be afraid to let your creativity shine through. The only rule is to have fun.