I try to be cognizant of the things I just do that other people do not come upon naturally. It occurred to me while decorating my trees this year that I decorate sometimes without an end result in mind, but still in a very rhythmic pattern.
Let me try to explain. Well, we all know when all the dusty boxes come down from the attic and the initial joy of open each box has worn off you are left with an overwhelming sense of AHHH, look at all this stuff, now how did I have it all last year? Keep your head. Begin with the things you know, like the lights. They must go on the tree first. Personally, I really dislike stringing lights. My size does not help anything...when I am up and down the ladder and moving it two to three times for every wrap of the strand. The last couple years I have gone minimal on the lights. I found a larger pearlized bulb that I like and I mix it with some tiny white lights. It generates plenty of light with a lot less work.
Now that the lights are on do not start randomly pulling and hanging things on the tree. Have you ever seen the professors demonstration about how to fill a jar? You start with the big stuff...the rocks, then eventually you end with the sand. This is the same process, not just with you tree but all your home decor.
Let's stay with the tree for now. I like ribbons and fabric pieces on my tree. I do not drape them the same every year. Sometimes they go diagonal, sometimes criss-cross, sometimes straight down. It does not matter what they do as long as you find some uniformity that fits your look. Play with it! You can because you have not put any ornaments on the tree yet to knock off in your rearranging of the ribbons.
Next start with your larger ornaments especially those in sets. Place them in diagonals, x's, diamond patterns across the tree. You will notice as you do this the tree fills up quickly and keeps a balanced look.
Lastly, add all of your special little ornaments. If you or your friends have little ones with little sticky, snatchy hands place the breakables up top and the plastics at the bottom. If you have photo frames or other special pieces you want people to see make sure to save a spot for them at eye level viewing. Remember, not all of the ornaments have to go on the tree. If you have some great ornaments, for instance, purple ornaments and an all white tree, try adding a grouping of clear glass vases in another room full of your pretty purple ornaments. Use all the ornaments you want, just consider their groupings.
My husband says I am the crazy Target commercial lady at Christmas and with this next statement you may agree, but oh, well. It may only be one of those unconscious things your mind notices but does not put together why you like it, but I like to wrap the presents beneath the tree according to the color scheme of the room. To far? Well, possibly. But it looks really nice! I decided to do ALL white in the living room this year. I even hid the stockings because they had red on them. I have had an all white tree for years, but never the whole room. This was not an easy task, but it turned out lovely! Back to the presents, I wanted to keep with the white theme, so, other than a very few red ribbons I kept the packages black, white, and green for the most part. It sounds obsessive, but really allows the room to shine and not distract your eye to the gifts versus your mantle.
Speaking of mantle...I want to pass along an idea from Mary Carol Garrity, our guest speaker at a luncheon I co-chaired a couple months back. She said she places a piece of ply-wood that matches the color and shape of her mantle on top of her mantle. This protects your mantle from scratches and allows you to hammer a small nail or staple right into the ply-wood veneer. When your decorations are up it appears as if the ply-wood were your actual mantle, yet your mantle has been protected. As you can see below I have tried this on my own mantle.