How to ensure your Christmas tree is classy NOT trashy

Is YOUR Christmas tree making you look common? Experts reveal how to keep the decor classy not trashy by ditching tinsel, using at least THREE sets of fairy lights and investing in a ‘skirt’ for the base

  • It’s nearly December and many of us are dusting off our box of Christmas decs
  • If you’re going for a classy tree look, there are some common pitfalls to avoid
  • FEMAIL has enlisted advice of interiors experts to help you dress tree in style 

Many Britons have got into the Christmas spirit early this year, putting up festive displays mid-November to combat the lockdown slump.

But if you’re a stickler for tradition and hanging on until December, you may be starting to think about dusting off those decorations and planning where to buy your tree.

It’s likely you’ve accumulated a stash of baubles and random hanging ornaments over the years, and as a result it can be all too easy to end up with a rather gaudy, uncoordinated look.  

In order to impress your ‘bubble’ this Christmas, FEMAIL has enlisted the advice of interiors experts to help you dress your home in style.

From ditching tacky tinsel to investing in at least three sets of fairy lights, here are all the tips you need to ensure your Christmas tree is classy, not trashy this festive season. 

In order to impress your ‘bubble’ this Christmas, FEMAIL has enlisted the advice of interiors experts to help you dress your tree in style. Stock image


Georgina Burnett, ITV This Morning’s interiors and DIY expert and founder of, says: ‘There’s nothing more classy than a sustainably sourced natural tree, but don’t replace a perfectly good fake tree if you already have one. 

‘If you have to go fake, don’t go cheap. Firstly you need to keep that tree for long enough to justify its carbon footprint. 

‘Secondly, you definitely get what you pay for where fake trees are concerned and the cheaper models look, well, fake, and will be falling apart before you can say Happy New Year. 

‘Go for green, because anything else will have a short shelf life and looks like you’re trying too hard to keep up with fashion. 

If you’re buying an artificial tree, Georgina recommends going for a traditional green colour because ‘anything else (like the above) will have a short shelf life and looks like you’re trying too hard to keep up with fashion’

‘Make sure there isn’t too much going on with your fake tree, so please, no fibre optics, or plastic fir cones. 

‘You also need to fluff each branch out fully when you get it down from the loft or it will look like your Aunt after she’s had too much port.’ 



Josh Lyle, owner of real Christmas tree suppliers Pines and Needles, which sold a tree to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2016, shares his tips for keeping yours in top condition throughout the festive season…

Treat a Christmas tree in the same way you would with cut flowers – trim the end, put it in water and don’t put it next to a radiator!  

When you get it home, saw off an inch (3cm) off the bottom of the trunk. This creates a fresh cut and opens up the pores in the bark, which otherwise can block up with sap within a few hours of being cut. The tree is then able to drink water through these pores via capillary action. We do this to all our trees so you don’t have to!  

Position your Christmas tree away from any heat sources such as radiators and fireplaces. Heat dries out your tree faster, so the further from potentially damaging heat sources the better, and the fresher your tree will remain.  

Do not expose your tree to sudden changes in temperature. Trees like most people are creatures of habit and prefer steady conditions. 

Place your tree in plain water – not soil or sand which would block the pores in the bark. This is best achieved by using a specially designed Christmas Tree Stand. Your Christmas tree may drink 2-3 pints (1-2 litres) of water per day, depending on its size and your central heating settings. This is very important as once the water level drops below the tree’s trunk, sap will re-seal the bark within a few hours, preventing the tree from drinking any further water even if you then re-fill the Christmas tree stand.

According to Georgina, the last thing you want to do is go too big or too small with a tree. 

‘Too big and you will feel cramped in the room and it looks like you’re trying pretend your home is bigger than it is which is a little ostentatious,’ she says.

‘Too small for the room and it will get lost in space. the top of the tree should clear the ceiling by at least a few centimetres once any topper is on it.’

Sallie Chater, interior designer and founder of, adds: ‘If your space is narrow, take time to look for a slim or “pencil” tree that won’t swamp your space. Nothing says inelegant more than a tree that doesn’t fit.’


Designer Steph Briggs, founder of interior and gifts emporium, La Di Da Interiors, says it’s vital you cover up the legs if you go for an artificial tree.

‘No one wants to see that stand! Woven willow tree skirts that we’ve seen in designer shops for the last few years have made it to the High Street now so there is no excuse!’ she tells FEMAIL.

Georgina suggests wrapping a selection of presents early in colours that match your tree decorations and placing them strategically around the base. 

‘Wrapping them in reusable fabric is super sexy, sustainable and totally on trend,’ she adds. 


Georgina advises: ‘Don’t go for anything but static, warm, evenly spaced white lights. 

‘No matter how fashionable you think coloured lights might be, trust me, you will be sick of them by Christmas Eve and it’s just not possible to get a sophisticated look with them. 

‘Flashing lights are an absolute no no – and not just for the reason they will give you a migraine. 

‘Make sure there are no trailing wires anywhere; it’s worth taking the time to ensure these are camouflaged.’

Steph suggests avoiding ‘cool’ coloured lights if you’re going for a classy look.

‘They look too clinical,’ she says. ‘Warm white fairy lights are the the way to go, and when it comes to fairy lights, more is more. Any designer Christmas tree will have at least three sets on it.’ 

David Sumner, online sales manager at Christmas Tree World, a supplier of premium artificial Christmas trees, recommends overestimating the number of lights you require, as it’s ‘better to have too many than not enough’. 

‘Purchase around 100 lights per foot, up to 6ft, then I would start to double that to 200 per foot for anything taller, as the diameter of the bottom of the tree grows the taller the tree is,’ he says.

Designer Steph Briggs, founder of interior and gifts emporium, La Di Da Interiors, says it’s vital you cover up the legs if you go for an artificial tree and recommends investing in a woven willow tree skirt (pictured)

‘While some people may decorate the tree up and down with the lights, my recommendation is to start at the bottom and wind around the tree using each layer of branches as a guide. 

‘Keeping the lights on the outside of the tree will give the best effect, although tucking the odd few lights towards the centre pole will give the tree a little more depth. You can even use the malleable branches on an artificial tree to twist around the cable to hold the lights in place. 

‘Once you get to the top of the tree, if you have any lights left over, these can be dropped down in the middle of the tree, again providing a little more depth.

‘Warm white lights are the perfect choice for those opting for a more traditional look this Christmas and have remained one of the most popular choices. The beauty is that you can still make your tree pop with colour by adding bright baubles and trinkets to help it stand out, while still ensuring it looks classy.’ 


According to Steph, tinsel is ‘very 1985’ and unless you’re going for the retro trash look, it needs to be avoided at all costs. 

Georgina concurs: ‘Please don’t even entertain the thought of using tinsel – it’s best left in the Eighties. 

According to Steph, tinsel is ‘very 1985’ and unless you’re going for the retro trash look, it needs to be avoided at all costs. If you must, layering it diagonally instead of horizontally helps to maintain some elegance. Stock image

‘Instead, go for either natural themed garlands or subtle ones representing your colour scheme. 

‘Either go for a lot of baubles, varied in design and size, or leave them off altogether. There’s nothing worse than a tree that looks like it couldn’t afford enough bling.’


While angels are traditional tree toppers, Georgina says they aren’t necessarily the best option.

‘Stars are the most sophisticated way to go to top off your tree, but don’t feel you have to have anything,’ she says. 

‘If your tree is well dressed it shouldn’t need a tiara.’

Sallie adds: ‘The top of the tree is definitely ready for a change this year so to avoid a dated look, put your angel into storage and try something different with a chic sparkly LED crown topper.’ 

If you can’t bring yourself to let go, David says the placing and amount of tinsel used is crucial for ensuring the tree remains classy and elegant.

‘Make sure not to go overboard, and wrap it neatly around the tree with plenty of space between each layer,’ he advises.

‘Layering it diagonally instead of horizontally also helps to maintain some elegance while still making the tree pop.

‘Baubles can be used to a similar effect, as when they are placed behind a light source, they create colourful beams of light reflecting onto your walls. 

‘Place your baubles carefully around the tree, using bigger baubles to decorate the bottom and middle of the tree, with smaller ones being reserved for the top. If your tree has any gaps, push a large bauble into the gap, rather than hanging it from the branch to avoid any overcrowding.’ 

Sallie suggests adding colour and personality to your tree with hand-blown glass or ceramic ornaments.

‘Plastic baubles from a multipack aren’t going to cut it,’ she says. ‘Opt instead for hand-blown glass or crisp paper decorations that will make your tree feel unique rather than cheap. 

‘Place your most treasured decorations at the top away from children and pets to make sure they stand the test of time!

‘Any decorations with “cheeky” slogans or “humorous” pictures are definitely trashy and should be avoided at all costs, as should any decorations with designer logos, or your face on! 

‘Any faux Victoriana is definitely “out” and should be quickly replaced by simple shapes and neutral colours.’ 


‘You absolutely have to have a colour scheme,’ says Georgina. ‘It doesn’t have to be traditional Christmas colours, but it does need to be cohesive and also go with any existing tones you have in the room. 

‘This has been the year of the rainbow, but if you go down that route, make sure you choose your use of rainbow colours strategically, rather than throwing whatever colour you have to hand at it with the excuse “anything goes”. 

Sallie recommends sticking to a ‘classic timeless palette’ of golds and silver – a dash of red is also in-keeping. Pictured: stock image

‘Do try unusual colour schemes like teal and orange – but only if you’re confident you can do it well and at all levels of the tree.’ 

Meanwhile Sallie recommends sticking to a ‘classic timeless palette’ of golds and silver.

David adds: ‘One thing to remember about the decorating process is to enjoy it! Take your time, don’t rush, pour yourself a festive tipple, and relax. 

‘The year has been crazy enough as it is – so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be a Christmas tree pro overnight. A personal style is always the best Christmas theme!’         

Steph Briggs’ guide to a mess-free Christmas tree disposal

When you come to get rid of your tree once the festivities are over, Steph advises against dragging it through the house, scattering needles in its wake. 

‘Instead, grab a newspaper, place it under the tree, get your gardening secateurs and chop each branch off and place in a bucket,’ she explains.

‘Once the branches are off, remove the main trunk and bucket. Fold up the newspaper with the needles in and voila – much less mess, and easier to take to the recycling centre.’

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