The Difference Between Personal & Professional Holiday Décor

With the exception of poinsettias, I never understood the connection between holiday decor and interiorscaping.

My first holiday decorating job occurred over fifteen years ago when one of my interiorscape clients asked me to decorate their lobby for the upcoming Christmas season. I had never decorated a Christmas tree other than my own. Without any professional experience, I took the challenge. At the time, I thought my red, white and blue twelve foot tree came out pretty good. Today with over a hundred commercial trees designed and installed, I can say my decorating skills have greatly improved.

Here are a few things I learned throughout the years that separate a professional tree from a personal one.

Hiding the Mechanics

Nothing takes away from a beautiful tree more than exposed wires, extension cords, metal rods or bulky stands. Most of this can be solved by properly “fluffing” your artificial tree. Fluffing is the technical term we use for making sure all the tiny branches are pulled up from the base. And yes, I chuckle every time I say it. Working each needle strand from the very back of the main pole to the front of each branch is extremely time consuming and very rough on exposed skin. Many high quality, artificial trees will even have side branches off a main branch that many non-professionals fail to pull out and mold into empty spaces. Taking the time to shape all the individual branches like a star will prevent bare spots, hide cords and create a much fuller, natural looking evergreen. Besides the traditional tree skirt, a great way to hide a metal stand is to up-sell the tree bottom with poinsettias or matching gift wrapped boxes. Take your shorter trees, poinsettias and topiaries to the next level by placing them in decorative urns, vertical containers or even a Vista brushed gold. Aluminum pots will out do a wicker basket any day.

Lighting

If your tree isn’t pre-lit or the pre-lit lights have stopped working, the way you add light strands can make a big difference. The home decorator most likely will start from the top and spiral the strand down the outside of the tree. The professional lighter starts at the bottom. Beginning from the tree core, bring the light strand from the back of each branch around the front and then back down along the branch to the core again like an accordion. Each branch is wrapped front to back, working your way up until your reach the pinnacle. This lighting method will require several more light sets, but the final effect will give your tree stunning depth and shine. Take a look at the Rockefeller tree in New York and you’ll see just how impressive this method can be.

Ornaments

At home, we attach holiday decorations with the string or hook it comes with to the end of a branch. In some cases, this practice is ok if the tree is meant to have a homemade look and the ornaments are strung evenly. For all other commercial appearances, I cut off any pre-attached loops and custom cut thin green wire. Using the wire pieces, I twist the ornament tight against the branch and remove any excess wire so the mechanics are hidden. The ornaments are not only attached to branch ends but also along different depths inside the tree. This gives your tree a three dimensional look rather than a flat appearance. If you are installing anything taller than a traditional seven foot tree, use an assortment of larger ornaments ten inches or more along the middle and bottom to create a proportionate appearance. For safety and liability, I avoid using items made of glass, ceramic or any easy breakable material. Believe me, ornaments are going to be dropped, especially when you are trying to handle several of them at one time on a ten foot ladder.

Last, don’t forget to take lots of pictures and close ups to show off your finished, professional holiday designs for future clients.

2013 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting” by Anthony Quintano is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Sherry has been part of the interiorscape industry for over fifteen years, starting at an entry level job at North Florida's largest greenhouse and currently owning two horticulture companies. At UMaine, Sherry majored in English where she worked part-time writing scripts for a local college TV studio.

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