How to decorate your perfect Christmas tree

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  • Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, your branches green delight us

    From hanging fairy lights to deciding on colour schemes and where to place those well-loved decorations, we spoke to Paul Thomas, owner and director of Paul Thomas Flowers (and decorator of the Christmas tree at The Ritz), to get his top tips on creating the best dressed tree.

    So, grab a glass of mulled wine and get inspired. After all, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas …

    “Start by carefully choosing the size and shape of your tree: it should stop a few inches short of the ceiling. If you need to trim it, do so from the base even if it means sacrificing a few branches. Cutting the top off is a crime, as the tree will no longer have a beautiful triangular shape. Each year, we design the 25ft tree in the main entrance to The Ritz in London. It is clipped to the exact size needed, then we spend all night decorating it with 65 sets of soft white lights and a magical collection of decorations.”

    “One of the loveliest things about a Christmas tree is seeing those decorations that come out every year and remembering where they came from, especially those ornaments that date back to your childhood. I like to use them first and work from there to create a design that harmonises with the palette and proportions of the room.”

    “If it’s a large tree, it’s important to up the scale of the decoration. Hang some really large baubles, over-sized ornaments or big bows of velvet that sit on the branches to make it more distinctive, rather than lots of smaller decorations, which are not so tasteful.”

    “Alongside baubles, I like to feature long, thin decorations, such as icicles and chandelier drops, which give a really elegant look to a tree. Don’t hang them on the outermost points, however, because they will drag the branches down and create a droopy effect. You might also want to run the vertical lines upwards, perhaps by adding candles on cups.”

    “I like traditional colour combinations, such as red and gold, blue and silver or white and silver, rather than a single colour. The colours should be relevant to the room: a red-and-gold tree isn’t going to work in a grey-and-taupe interior. Having said that, what does if matter if you break a few rules?”

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