Christmas tree topper ideas for the ultimate festive finishing touch

These Christmas tree topper ideas will be the perfect cherry (or probably, star) on top

A decorated Christmas tree with presents next to a sofa
(Image credit: Future)

A Christmas tree is the centrepiece of festive home decor, so finding the perfect way to dress it will elevate your entire scheme, including sourcing the ultimate Christmas tree topper. From star to angels, lights to bows, there are so many unique or traditional tree toppers that will finish it off in style. 

But before you think about decorative tree toppers, first decide which of the Christmas tree ideas you're hoping to achieve. Modern, traditional, eclectic… whichever you go for, the topper can be used to enhance the Christmas decor shown on the rest of the branches.

Christmas tree topper ideas

'A standout topper is the ultimate finishing touch to any Christmas tree, and shoppers are finding new ways to make bold statements with their decorations, all while showcasing their personal style, says Dayna Isom Johnson, trend expert at Etsy.

'Whether opting to keep to tradition with a tried-and-tested star or angel or adding something more fun and unexpected like a santa hat or gingerbread man, shoppers can find all types of tree toppers on Etsy to help them spread joy throughout the festive season.'

1. Tie a bow

Living room with Christmas tree lit up and decorated with bows.

(Image credit: Future)

Who doesn't love finishing off their presents - or hairstyle - with a bow? Give your tree the same special treatment and use a plush velvet, embellished design to add elegance to your tree.

Pick a bow in the colour you most want to pick out of the baubles on the tree - this will make them appear more dominant and obvious to the eye.

If you can't find the perfect bow on the high street, then make your own! Ensure you tie the fabric around some thin wire first to keep it pert and shapely for as long as the tree is up. This also works especially well for real Christmas trees where other toppers may be too heavy.

2. Choose a light-up option

A decorated Christmas tree with presents next to a sofa

(Image credit: Sofology)

Light-up Christmas tree toppers are a fun way to finish off your decoration. But be careful about which one you select.

Stay on the classy side by choosing light in a similar shade to the fairy lights around your tree. if one is white and the other yellow, the clash will irritate you. If your light-up topper has a cord then make sure you've explored Christmas tree light hacks to avoid getting into a twist.

Slim, minimalist designs such as this Sliver Star, £5, Dunelm are a great choice because they add a touch of extra sparkle without overwhelming, or looking bare when not switched on.

3. Finish with a flower

Christmas tree with red rose decorations by red sofa

(Image credit: Future)

Make it appear that you know how to decorate a tree professionally by committing to a striking, floral scheme.

Decorate with a relatively small number of baubles in a restrained palette - think maximum three colours - and fill the gaps with faux blooms in your choice of these shades. For the perfect topper, wrap the stem of an artificial rose around the top brand of the tree and, if need, use wire to position it perfectly. Wrap any exposed wires with florists' tape for a seamless finish.

4. Add some fancy feathers

Christmas tree topped with orange and peach feathers

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

'Clips, stems and unusual shapes are a great way to give your tree texture and interest,' says Jason Billings-Cray, Christmas buyer, John Lewis & Partners. This is even more applicable when it comes to your choice of Christmas tree topper.

Christmas is a time of celebration, so why not take inspiration from many festivities around the year - and world - and use an array of statement coloured feathers to create a tree topper? Work the feathers in from a few branches down from the top to give the impression that they're sprouting from the trunk itself.

This style won't just look great at Christmas - if you throw a Roaring Twenties bash for New Year's Eve, your tree will be right on theme!

5. Go for a DIY approach

Christmas tree topped with green paper star next to grey sofa with colourful cushions

(Image credit: Future)

For a fun and easy Christmas tree design and topper that the whole family can help with, look to paper decorations.

Fold out paper stars are perfect to let little kids get involved in decorating without the worry of anything getting broken or swallowed. You can play around by mixing and matching shapes and sizes, so long as you stick to one or two colours. For extra impact, choose an oversized option to act as the topper.

The 3-D versions of these paper decs are also a wonderful way to fill the space left at the base of the tree once the presents have been opened. Plus, it's a great budget Christmas decorating idea that will save more money for gifts. 

6. Choose a classic star

Christmas tree in living room with tree topper.

(Image credit: Future)

Stars are a perennial favourite of many households for a reason - they're a traditional Christmas decorating idea that can be used for many years to come.

When choosing your star, it's clever to opt for a fairly simply woven or metallic design. This way, no matter what theme your tree or living room take for Christmas in the future, your tree topper will work with the style.

7. Add a heart to the top

A living room with a decorated Christmas tree and a burning fireplace

(Image credit: Carpetright)

Christmas is a time for family and friends to gather, so a simple heart hung from the top of your tree is the perfect way to sum up the season.

If your decoration has too wide a string to hang neatly, or there aren't any close enough lower branches to rest it on, use some thin wire in a matching colour to tie directly onto the top.

8. Top with an angel

Christmas tree with white decorations and angel tree topper.

(Image credit: Future)

Another classic Christmas tree topper idea - the angel, or a fairy, is a sweet way of finishing off your family tree.

A benefit of these toppers is that they typically can simply be placed on top of the tree, meaning you don't have to twist, tie or attach anything extra.

There are any number of angelic toppers on offer, so there will absolutely be one to match your style.

9. Embrace maximalist decor

Christmas tree in living room with peacock tree topper.

(Image credit: Future)

If you're big into following the latest Christmas tree trends, then retro maximalist decor is the one to watch. This involves ample colour and kitsch decorations, and a statement Christmas tree topper idea, like this peacock, will be the ultimate finishing touch. 

'A brilliant trend for those who like to mix and match their extensive decorations collection, eclecticism is the name of the game, so don't be afraid to combine colours and textures,' says Jennifer Derry, chief merchandise and design expert at Balsam Hill

'Another really easy way to begin building this look is with multi-coloured lights which impart an instant touch of nostalgia.'

FAQs

How do I choose a Christmas tree topper?

‘It’s important to choose a tree topper that is to scale with your tree,’ says Sylvia James, interior designer at HomeHow.co.uk. ‘Leaving it until the last minute without any thought will result in a topper that is disproportionate and using the same one with a different tree is lazy.'

'Invest in a few different shapes and sizes and continue adding more to the collection as the years go by.’ Your design should reflect or echo the theme of the tree decorations, or any Christmas style you have running through the room.

Also remember you need a topper which fits! Ideally you want a good few inches of space between it and the ceiling, so you may have to bend or cut the top branch to make your choice of topper sit correctly.

Do you put the tree topper on first or last?

Christmas tree toppers should be the second thing added following the lights. Although we think of the topper as ‘finishing’ the tree, by leaving it to the end to put on, you’re risking knocking off precariously balanced baubles or getting the cord of a light up topper stuck in between decorations.

Another thing to consider that if you put the topper on last and then realise there’s not enough room between the tree and the ceiling, it’s a fair bit trickier to deal with.

What is the most popular Christmas tree topper?

The two most common Christmas tree toppers are far and away stars and angels. And different sources will suggest that one is more popular than the other, but there’s no definitive answer.

‘People in Scandinavian countries tend to use the same tree topper to complete their Christmas tree year after year,’ muses Sandie Wallman, Founder of Nordic House.

‘It can often be a family heirloom and stars are always popular.’ We typically think of stars as being more traditional, however, the tradition of using Christmas tree toppers began in Germany in the 1800s. The Rauschgoldengel, or the tingled angel, was a shiny golden foil angel that became popular during this era,’ say the experts at Balsam Hill.

'The advent of patriotic accents in Great Britain eventually saw flags, such as the Union Jack, making their way to the tops of numerous Christmas trees.'

Whether you stick to the traditional star or angel or mix up your Christmas decor with some DIY bows, any option will be the perfect cherry on top of your tree this season. 

Thea Babington-Stitt
Managing Editor

Thea Babington-Stitt is the Managing Editor for Ideal Home. Thea has been working across some of the UK’s leading interiors titles for around 10 years.

She started working on these magazines and websites after graduating from City University London with a Masters in Magazine Journalism. Before moving to Ideal Home, Thea was News and Features Editor at Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc and Country Homes & Interiors.

With contributions from