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Posted on Tue. Nov. 20, 2012 - 12:04 am EDT

Filling out

Pick right location, fluff branches to help hide tree’s problem areas

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The Christmas tree is the focal point of many homes during the holiday season, so if yours is looking less than lush, here are some tips from the pros for, well, sprucing up its appearance.

Location, location, location

Whether your Christmas tree is real or artificial, placing it in the right spot can go a long way toward giving it a bountiful look. Avoid placing a thin-looking tree in front of a window or light-colored wall, which will highlight its patchy areas. Real trees should be kept away from heat sources and radiators, which can drain them of moisture and fullness.

Fluffing with flourish

Spend time fluffing your tree for a more voluminous look, says Jami Warner, executive director of the American Christmas Tree Association, a California-based trade group.

She advises starting at the bottom of an artificial tree and working your way up, carefully adjusting each section as you go. To get the best coverage, tips that are closest to the center pole should be angled vertically and out to the sides to resemble a peacockís fanned tail. Consider researching the natural bend of branches and tips that your tree should imitate.

ďModeling your tree after a photo of that style will help you ideally shape your tree,Ē Warner says. Her organizationís website,, has pictures to help guide in fluffing.


Real trees should be well-nourished to keep them looking full. Some green thumbs swear by a teaspoon of brown sugar or flat ginger ale, but Warner says fresh tap water daily is all you need.

Dazzle with light

So youíve placed your tree in a cozy spot, arranged its base and branches just so, and now itís time to make it shine. Sabrina Soto, Targetís home style expert and an HGTV designer, says one of the easiest ways to give a tree life is through lighting. She recommends allotting at least 100 bulbs for every foot of height.

ďA full, brightly lit, decorated tree gives a feeling of abundance that puts everyone in a happy holiday mood,Ē Soto says.

A lighted garland can go far in filling empty space on a thin tree, she says, and creates an even warmer glow.

Add any extra lighting before you decorate with ornaments so youíre not getting them tangled up. Also, while lighting makes your tree sparkle, it also can highlight bare areas and show where ornaments or other items may be needed to create an ample appearance.

Trimming the tree

If youíre looking to create bulk or a new look, Soto says hot ornament trends this holiday season include unconventional colors such as pinks, purples and blues. Jewel tones and bright citrus hues are also popular, as are gilded and mercury ornaments that really ďjazz upĒ a tree.

Also popular are nature themes, and upcycled or recycled items.

Karen Edenfield, a designer with Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, suggests using feathers, pine cones or artificial pine stems for natural-looking filler, or floral stems and bushes for bulk, texture and color. Berry stems can be placed deep in the tree to mask gaps and give a glimpse of color. Reused and recycled items could include old sheet music, jewelry and gift wrapping or bows.

Other trendy themes include wine and grapes; seashore; and cupcakes and other sweets. Themes can be a great fix for sparse-looking trees: ďPeople wonít focus as much on the tree as they will on the overall look,Ē Edenfield says.

Ribbons are another simple way to fill out a scraggly tree, and can be found in an array of patterns. If placed horizontally, they should go on after lights and before ornaments. Or use a large, multi-bow ribbon at the top of the tree with ribbon streamers hanging down for a finishing touch.

And decorations arenít just for the tips of the branches. Remember to place lights, ornaments, garlands, picks, stems and other decorations deep and outward to give more dimension.

ďA full-looking tree signifies abundance, family and warmth of the holiday season,Ē Warner says.

Preparing for next year

Carefully packing and storing your artificial tree can ensure that its needles donít flatten out, and will make decorating next season a little easier.

Edenfield recommends a cool, dry storage area. Heat can shorten the life of the needles. Ideally, she says, store the tree so it doesnít have to be crammed back into its small box.

If your artificial tree wonít make another holiday appearance at your house, donít just throw it in the trash.

Consider donating or recycling it, or reuse its branches as filler for an even more ample tree next Christmas.

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