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The Ultimate Guide to Decorating your Christmas Tree

Have you ever wondered how many lights or ornaments, or how much garland you need to decorate your Christmas Tree?  This free printable reference chart makes it surprisingly easy to get the perfect amount of trimmings for your tree!  It includes all of the lengths and measurements based on tree size so whether you have a 5 foot, 7 foot, or even 12 foot Christmas tree, you can figure out exactly what you need!

Great ideas for Christmas Tree Decorating! Includes reference sheet for what you need for your tree based on size!

I was excited to partner with a brand I use regularly, Miracle-Gro®, to bring you this post.  Though the post was sponsored by Miracle-Gro®, all of the thoughts, tips, and printables were created right here, by me!

I remember my first Christmas tree I had outside of my parents house was in college.  I was a little homesick and when the holidays came around I just needed a little something to cheer me up. So I took a trip to the store and came back to drown my dorm in Christmas cheer.  I still remember walking up and down the aisles, going from excitement of a tree that was blank slate to decorate any way I wanted, the overwhelmingness of what do I actually need?  How much garland?  How many lights?  How many ornaments to fill its branches?  I left with a lot I didn’t need, and not a lot of what I did.  But my Charlie Brown Christmas tree still gave me the little piece of home to fill my heart in the midst of the holidays.

That was the first, but certainly not the last!  Each year we look forward to decorating our tree as a family.  With kids it is even more fun than it ever has been before!  We have moved from delicate glass baubles to some still beautiful, but also non-breakable ornaments, next to hand prints, and various crafts that the kids have made through the years to fill the branches.  My tiny 3 foot tree from my college days has been replaced with a family sized tree big enough to spend hours with Christmas music blaring, and little hands helping, hanging every decoration in just the right spot.

Best tips and ideas for christmas tree decorating! The reference chart is super handy! I always wondered how many ornaments I was supposed to have!

And through the years, I have collected our perfect little Christmas.  All the trimmings and trappings that make the kids eyes shine with excitement as we get them out each year and transform our regular old house into our little corner filled with Christmas magic.  And with all the experience plus quite a bit of research, I have figured out how much of this and how many of that you need to fill a tree, if it is 5 feet or 10!

I am super excited to share this with you because hopefully it will be a great reference to help so many more families have fun creating their perfect Christmas tree! This guide goes through the basic number of lights, ornaments and garland you need based on your tree size.  The first thing to realize is that decorating a tree is all about personal preference.  So even though this is a great guide, if you feel like you want more or less, or something completely different, then go for it!  And we aren’t the only thing that is unique, also  realize that each tree is unique as well.  Especially when they are fresh!  If trees are thicker or thinner, or the branches are spaced more or less than average they might vary from the numbers on this chart, but this will definitely serve as the perfect launching point to get you pretty close!

Christmas Tree Decorating Reference Chart

So take a look at this, then follow along below as we go through the steps to decorating the perfect tree and then how to keep it fresh and long lasting all through the season!  If you want to print this out so you can keep it handy when you are shopping for lights, garland or ornaments, then hop down to the bottom of the post for the free printable download of this chart.

Keeping this handy! Great reference sheet for Christmas Tree decorating! How much garland do you need? How many lights do you need? How many ornaments do you need? All the answers are right here!

How to decorate the perfect Christmas Tree:

When picking out a fresh Christmas Tree, there are a few things that will help you get the best tree for your dollar.

  1. Get the tree as early in the season as possible.  Many people think that getting a fresh tree to early will result in a tree that doesn’t look good by Christmas, but actually, the opposite is closer to the truth!
    • Experts state that mid-November is the best time to get the tree because it will be closed to when it was cut and allow you to get it to water much sooner than if it was just waiting to be picked out on a Christmas tree lot.
    • Many trees that you pick later in the season were actually picked around the same time, but have been sitting with minimal water since then, so they don’t last as long.
    • Try a “cut your own” tree farm, or order online for a cut to order tree for the freshest options!
  2. Once you have your tree, put it in water as soon as possible
    • Submerge the base of the tree in 2″ of water.
    • When the tree is first put into water it can be especially “thirsty”
  3. Add MiracleGro® for Christmas Trees
    • 1 capful per quart of water to help reduce needle drop/loss and keep your tree looking fresher and fuller longer versus using water alone!
    • This is a staple for our fresh trees.  The best part is one bottle will last a whole season!
    • Miracle-Gro® is one of the most trusted names in Home & Garden.  You can learn more about Miracle-Gro® for Christmas Trees here!



As we established above, perfect is truly in the eye of the beholder.  I love a full tree with lots of texture and light.  Using the numbers on the chart above you should come out with a very fully decorated tree.  Some rules of thumb:

  • When calculating what you need for the tree, I round up if it isn’t close to the whole foot mark.  So if the tree was 5.5 feet, I would use the guides for a six foot tree.
  • This guide is specifically made for fresh trees that require lights to be added and are generally fuller in nature.
  • Pick a theme, and/or color palate of 3-4 colors and choose lights, garland and ornaments that coordinate within the palate to get a cohesive look.

Ever wonder how much garland, how many ornaments or lights you need for your tree? This reference chart makes creating the perfect tree surprisingly easy! It has all the answers based on the size of your tree to make it so simple to create a designer tree!

I think trees look best when they have many textures that are layered to create the final masterpiece.  You will want to follow this general assembly method to have the best results:

  1. First, arrange the lights on the tree

    1. Lights are generally sold on strings that will vary from 100-300 lights in a package on average.  Make sure to check the package so you know how many come in the package you are looking at.
    2. Start from the top of the tree and work your way down.
    3. Don’t just wrap the lights around the outside, weave the lights in and out of the branches to give the tree depth and dimension with the light.
    4. If you go for larger lights, you might not need quite as many as the standard lights.
    5. Use energy efficient sources like LED to be able to keep your tree on longer with less energy use.
    6. Plug the lights into a switched receptacle, or a small power strip with an on/off switch and you will be able to easily turn the lights on and off without climbing behind the tree.
  1. Next place the garland

    1. This garland measurement is calculated for horizontal use (wrapping around the tree.) If you want to string your garland vertically you will use less.
    2. Use the garland to fill in gaps between branches as you go around
    3. Wider widths of garland like burlap and deco-mesh can be used with sparser trees, while thin garlands like beads, and popcorn strings look great on full trees.
    4. Use multiple types or textures of garland to get a more complex look
  2. Finally fill the tree in with ornaments

    1. Ornaments are generally sized:
      • Large 5-6″ diameter or larger
      • Medium 3-4 ” diameter
      • Small – This refers to small decorations like icicles, bows, bells, etc.  You usually won’t use a ball smaller than a medium on an average sized tree
    2. Start by placing the largest ornaments and move to the smallest.
    3. Use the larger ornaments to fill in gaps or uneven spots on the tree
    4. Hang ornaments at different heights and depths on the tree for more interest.
    5. Use shiny ornaments to catch and reflect more light
    6. Make sure to get ornaments around all sides of the tree

By following the guidelines here, you are set to decorate a designer quality tree.  It is really pretty simple to put together a tree that will make you feel the Christmas spirit all season long.  Now grab the chart below so you will have it handy each time you pick out your tree!  If you grab this download, I would love it if you would take a minute to share this by pinning it on Pinterest as well!

{Free Download – Christmas Tree Decorating Guide –  CLICK HERE}

Free Printable Christmas Tree decorating guide! Ideas on how to decorate your Christmas tree by size!

Make sure to grab everything you need at the store, including Miracle-Gro® for Christmas Trees.  Learn more about Miracle-Gro® for Christmas Trees and find your local supplier here, and check out this video for more info!

Make sure to share your tree with me by tagging me on Instagram @ThePinningMama.  I would love to see your beautiful creations!  Do you have any other special tips or tricks for decorating a Christmas Tree?  I would love to hear about it in the comments.  I love hearing readers tips and tricks. They help to make each post even a better resource!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Miracle-Gro. The opinions and text are all mine.

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