Hallmark movies are a lie: Holiday magic does not just appear from nowhere. You must create it.

It can be messy and challenging to create magical moments with twinkling lights, fresh pine needles, or fake pine, but it is possible. You might find yourself wrestling with tree stands, untangling cords, or arguing with your roommate about how to hang ornaments. Decorating doesn’t have to be complicated. These suggestions will make decorating for holidays easier and more enjoyable for all involved.

Set up

1.Spend a lot on a tree stand

The Krinner has been our favorite tree stand since 2012. It has a unique design that makes it easy to set up, even if you are working alone. We also love the stand’s attractiveness.

It can be challenging to get your tree straightened in a tree stand. This is especially true when you consider that it is usually only possible for a person to do this task with help over the past decade, we have tried many trees stands, but the Krinner Tree Genie XXL has been our favorite. The Krinner tree stand is not only the most secure but also the easiest to set up. Unlike traditional stands, the Krinner uses a foot pedal to lock your tree in. Place the tree into the stand and press the pedal several times to secure the trunk.

Krinner stands to make it easy to maintain a Christmas tree life. Its 2.5-gallon water reservoir means you won’t need to water every day. The Krinner stand can hold 1.5 gallons of water per day for trees between 6-8 feet tall. However, a gauge at the tank will keep you informed of the level of the water in between fillings. Jackie Reeve, senior staff writer, suggests using a tree waterer such as Santa’s Magic Water Spout. This product is only available locally, but similar products are sold nationwide. This tool can save you the effort of climbing under a tree to water it. It also helps to prevent water from leaking everywhere.

2.Fuff your fake tree

No artificial tree is perfect right out of the package. Even if the faux fir looks the best, you will still need to fluff it. You will need to fluff your artificial Christmas tree each year. Consider using gardening gloves depending on the branch texture. Depending on your Christmas tree size, this can take between 30 and 45 minutes. However, it is necessary if your tree is to be impressive. So slip on your earbuds to listen to holiday music while you fluff.

Lighting and decorating

1.Do not underestimate the number of lights you will need

These white lights are available in a strand with 150 and can be matched almost exactly to traditional incandescent. However, they are safer and more durable and should last at most ten years.

You need 100 lights per foot to make a tree appear well-lit (but not too bright). A 6-foot tree needs 600 lights, while a 7-foot tree needs 700 lights. Although it may sound exaggerated, after testing different lighting levels on trees, we discovered that less light seemed more sparkly than scrooge-y.

Our top choice, the GE Energy Smart ColoriteLED Warm White Miniature Lighting set, has 150 lights per strand. You will need at least four spools to light a 6-foot-tall tree. There seemed to be too many lights around the tree, but once they were strung up, the tree sparkled beautifully.

Although lighting can be expensive (it will cost around $160 to light a 6-foot Christmas tree if there are several strands of our choice), the GE Energy Smart Colorite lamps are long-lasting enough to last a decade. We have light storage suggestions to keep them in top shape.

2.This is the best method for light stringing (and there are simpler ones, too).

Stringing lights around a Christmas tree can be frustrating. But there is an easier and more effective way to light it. According to most lighting experts, such as Wirecutter senior writer Doug Mahoney, the vertical way to hang lights around a tree is the best. Doug explains that you should string lights from the bottom to the top of the tree, then go in and forth as you go up. Then, you can bring the lights down again and continue to go in and around the tree.

Rose Maura Lorre, senior staff writer at Wirecutter, suggests that string lights be replaced with net lights, usually reserved for outdoor bushes. However, they are not our top picks. Although the tree may look less full or beautiful if the lights were strung vertically, this can reduce the amount of work involved.

If you hate working with light, skip the Douglas fir and buy a prelit artificial tree. The National Tree Company’s faux tree is our favorite. It has LED lights built in that don’t require stringing. Depending on the mood, it can be set up in less than 10 minutes and switch between all-white or multicolor. This is one way to ensure you don’t have to worry about string lights again.

This LED-lit tree is full-bodied, realistic, large, well-sized, and versatile. It can switch between multicolor and all-white modes. The lights also connect when you attach the sections.

3.Decorate the tree only.

Is the back of this tree decorated with flowers? We may never know. Photo by Michael Murtaugh

You don’t need to add ornaments or lights to your tree if placed next to a wall. The naked tree is invisible to others. This allows you to increase the number of lights and ornaments placed on your tree’s wall-facing side. It will look fuller and brighter. This is one of few occasions you can afford to only half-assess something so important to your holiday decor. So, take it all in.

4.The tree skirt is larger, the better.

Tree skirts with large diameters protect floors and catch any fallen needles. They also provide space for presents. Wrap a tablecloth or blanket around your tree’s base if you have trouble finding a large enough tree skirt. Tree skirts are being tested, and we expect to have one by next Christmas.

5.Automate your lighting

The smart plug was reliable in testing, has real-time energy monitoring, an Away Mode, and is widely compatible.

A simple and inexpensive smart-home device is a great way to get around this holiday quirk. Rachel Cericola, senior staff writer for smart-home, uses the TP-Link KasaSmart Wi-Fi Plug slim to control her tree lights. This device allows her to avoid reaching the switch behind trees twice a night. Instead, her tree lights turn on and off at a set time every evening. It’s easy to create a schedule using our favorite smart plug: Once you have downloaded the app (available for iOS, Android, and Apple Home), and registered your device, go to the Schedules tab. This will allow you to assign your smart plug to a specific time period. Rachel finds automating her holiday decorations satisfying on nights when she returns home from work. She says, “It’s so nice to come home and see the lights greeting me.”

Take your tree down.

1.Hang ornaments from hooks

Don’t take the hooks off your ornaments as you pack up Christmas decorations. Present You and Future You will benefit from leaving them on. This saves time, as well as saving you the hassle of hooking up each ornament again next year. It’s a great idea to think ahead.

2.Keep Christmas lights organized with winders.

These inexpensive winders can be used to store extension cords and lights. Each can hold up to 164 feet worth of lights.

Christmas lights can quickly become a messy mess from neat strings of bulbs. Jackie Reeve wraps her string light around a winder to avoid having to untangle them next year. This cheap winder can hold up to 164 feet of light and has a storage hook for hanging your lights in storage. If you want to save money, we have some tips for you. You can cut a piece from cardboard (video) and wrap the lights around it.

3.A fitted sheet will help you take the tree down.

The pine needle trail left behind when you take your Christmas tree to the curb will surely be there. A used fitted sheet can be a great help in managing the mess. Place the sheet on top of the tree and tuck the edges around the base. A fitted sheet is better than a flat one. This allows you to wrap the tree securely and keep it safe while you take it outside. Catherine Kast, senior editor, used this method for many years when she lived in a walk-up apartment. She believes the advice came from Martha Stewart Living magazine. She says that even though the tree is large, it is surprisingly easy to move it down many steps with a fitted sheet. Everyone will be happy when you take the tree outside. My hallways were always in order. My neighbors were amazed.”

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