Steps and How to Correctly Decorate Your Christmas tree with Christmas Lights


Everyone wants to decorate their tree in such a fashionable way that it looks absolutely beautiful however there are steps to doing it right without causing any harm to you or your family. The thing we need to know about Christmas lights is they come in all shapes and sizes and they can be used for grade a fax in creating a truly sparkling Christmas tree that will be remembered for years to come. Here is the question and it is the big question “how do you go about lighting it properly?”

The first thing you need to know is what type of lights we be putting on your tree. Do you want a soft glow or a tree that lights up the entire room? To achieve a soft glow it can be produced by using global lights or bubble lights. Incandescent bulbs and bright mini lights will create an eye-catching festive glow.

Incandescent light bulbs generate a lot of heat and will allow a real treat to emit a fragrant aroma of pine. However this does come at a price is important that you keep your tree watered at all times. If it is an artificial tree then my suggestion is to keep an eye on the heat factor especially with the artificial trees. Because they can catch fire. Keep this in mind and give yourself ample weight in your decision making when you choose your lights.

Bright mini lights, come in both compact incandescents, which produce heat (as noted above) and LED’s. The LED’s (light-emitting diodes), do not produce heat and offer a significant safety factor as they are flameproof and fireproof. LED’s come in mini, multi-colored lights or solid color strands.

You can choose between green stranded lights, which blend in well with real or artificial green trees or choose white stranded lights, which leave only the lights showing as the white strands disappear into the white tree limbs.

Safety Factors to Consider

Always read the description on the package before purchasing lights. Don’t just go on price alone. While the least expensive lights may seem to be the most sensible choice, make sure they have good safety ratings indicated on their box. Purchase from companies that have a solid reputation.

Mini lights burn the coolest as opposed to larger bulbs.

Always inspect your existing and/or newly purchased light strands for the following:

• Faulty or loose connections

• Broken, cracked or missing bulbs

• Frayed or worn wire

• Damaged or cracked sockets

• Exposed wire

• Faulty operation

If you find any of the above, DON’T use them and DON’T try to fix them yourself. The risk you pose to yourself and your family is simply not worth it. Simply throw them away and replace with new ones. If you just purchased them, return them to the store for either a replacement or a refund. If you get a replacement, be sure to check those as well.

While it may seem elementary, NEVER hang lights on a dry tree! How do you tell if the tree is dry? Try to bend or break one of the small twigs on the tree. If it is easy to snap, then your tree is too dry.

If you are using an artificial METAL tree, DO NOT hang lights on it. These trees can become electrically charged and can electrocute someone who touches the tree. Metal trees can also cause electrical holiday lights to short out and cause a fire. In general, give serious consideration to staying away from metal trees.

NEVER USE CANDLES on a real or artificial tree. This is a tremendous fire hazard!

Lighting Your Tree

To give your tree a lovely, luminous effect, think about using clear white miniature bulbs as the base lighting. You can then add solid or multi-colored strands for color. Interspersing novelty lights such as snowmen, angels, snowflakes will enhance the overall appearance.

Purchase lights with the same type of plug. Tree lights come in two formats: stacked or end-to-end. Make sure you are using the same type throughout. Stacked plugs will allow you to join more strands together; however, you should not connect more than three strings together.

Make sure your extension cords can handle the wattage of the bulbs. The wattage on the bulbs should all be the same. This will help prevent power surges and extends the bulbs’ life and reduces the chance of fire.

Plug in the lights before you put them on the tree.

Inspect all the lights as noted above.

When you are working with a fresh Christmas tree, plan to use three 100-light sets for each foot of your tree’s height. Example: An eight-foot tree would call for 2,400 lights or 24 light strands.

To give your tree a balanced, well-lit look, divide the tree into three triangular sections from top to bottom. To get a mental image of this, think of three tall triangles touching each other edge to edge in a circle.

To get started, secure the last bulb of the string to the top of the tree next to the trunk. Then work your way down the triangle to the bottom of the tree, weaving the rest of the lights as you go. Be careful not to let the cord cross over itself. Follow this procedure for the remaining two triangles. As you connect your light strands, be sure not to have more than three strands connected.

How do you tell if you have blank spaces? Step back from the tree and squint to see if you see any dark holes. Re-weave as necessary to fill in the blank holes. Then step back and re-check your handiwork. Once you have the lights to your satisfaction, then begin placing your ornaments on the tree.

Finally, have a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy your beautiful tree.


Creating Paper Bag Luminaries


Adapted From: Holiday Decorating For Dummies

Traditionally, luminarias are made of votive candles set in paper bags weighted with sand and placed in rows along walkways, driveways, and even rooftops. You can use them in new ways, however, to light paths, a mantel, or a staircase. Because they’re so simple to make, you can use them as projects for children. Light up your nights for the holidays by making some luminarias for your home and customizing them for a specific holiday.

You can decorate, punch, or cut designs from lunch-size paper bags to make holiday luminarias quickly and easily. Use bags in holiday colors (you can find them at party supply stores) to give your luminarias a holiday look. For instant decorating — no embellishments required — use the preprinted themed bags that are often used for holding goodies.

Place one to two inches of sand in the bottom of each paper bag. Nestle a tealight or votive candle into the center of the sand. When you’re ready to use your luminaria, just light the wick of the tealight or candle.

Stamping, stenciling, or drawing designs

You can customize plain bags by stamping, stenciling, or drawing designs on them with craft paint or markers. Stencil stars for the Fourth of July, or stamp shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day. A simple drawing of a jack-o’-lantern for Halloween or a stenciled Star of David for a dusk celebration can provide a beautiful way to welcome guests and make any occasion special.

For a simple way to make a luminaria with a complex design, use a computer to print clip art in black ink on plain copy paper. Trim the copy to fit just inside one side of the plain brown bag, and then glue or tape it into place. When you light the luminaria, the black lines of the design show up on the outside of the bag. With this little trick, you can quickly make luminarias that look as if you spent lots of artistic energy on them.

Try to find designs that look like silhouettes or are completely black: They show up better when the luminaria is illuminated.

Perforating designs

When you perforate outlines of designs in your paper bag luminaria, bright pinpricks of light shine through the paper. Perforating outlines of designs in paper is easy. Just follow these steps:

1. Place several layers of folded newspaper on a cutting board.

2. Tape your paper bag, with the bottom flap unfolded, to the newspaper with pieces of masking tape or removable tape.

3. Take a thumbtack and prick evenly spaced holes along the outline of the design, making sure you prick through both layers of the bag.

Cutting out designs

Cutting small designs out of the paper bag will allow a little more light to shine through your luminaria. But remember, when you cut more paper from the bag, you also allow more wind in, making the candle flame more likely to go out.

When cutting out designs, use shapes that are 1 to 1-1/2 inches in size. Anything larger will weaken the structure of the bag, making it more likely to sag.

1. Place several layers of folded newspaper on a cutting board. Tape your paper bag, with the bottom flap unfolded, to the newspaper with masking tape or removable tape.

2. Draw or trace the outline of the design on the bag.

3. Cut out shapes with a craft knife.

If you want to use cookie cutters for patterns or larger motifs, you can use two bags (with one serving as a liner) to give the cut bag strength. This layered effect is very pretty when you use a contrasting colored bag for the inner liner.

How to Make a Lighted Christmas Box Decoration


This crafty idea for lighted Christmas decorations comes from TypicalScrapbooker Janie, one our Trendy Tree Facebook  Group members, and what an excellent idea! She put together some pieces of chicken wire to make her box, added some inexpensive clear Christmas lights, covered the boxes in a nice shiny fabric and topped the box off with a crisp Deco Poly Mesh bow. Kudos to Janie! – Be sure to drop by her Blog Typical Scrapbooker Crafts and say hello!

There is just no limit to getting all sorts of variety in this decoration – size – color – fabrics –  bows – embellishments……the list is long and only limited by your imagination. Imagination…..which in my case….I need examples!! So here are some more photos of TypicalScrapbooker Janie’s boxes!


Wire mesh or chicken wire, secured with zip ties. Strand of 100 Christmas lights also secured with zip ties…..don’t you just love zip ties….so many uses))) The lights were secured around the sides. Bottom of the box was left open.


A second layer of wire mesh was added for more support. Wire mesh or chicken wire can be found at your local hardware store, Lowe’s or Home Depot. You’ll need a pair of wire cutters and be careful with sharp edges. I like to wear thin leather gloves when working with wire.


You’ll see some sagging before you’re done, but once the sides are wired together it will be sturdier.


Good old zip ties! Zip ties were used to secure the lights too.


Finished box ready for decorating!


Lighted Box. You might want to test the arrangements of your lights before the next step, just to even them out.


Fabric was applied with double sided crafting tape.





Boxes could be made in any size or shape and would look great as a collection underneath the tree…..or on the tree! Some other options to consider might be:

· Assorted fabrics or other materials. I believe Janie tried Deco mesh and this proved to be too thin, even two layers of it. Janie recommended a fabric that was not too sheer, but sheer enough that you could see your hand through it.

· Clear Christmas lights – an option would be to use battery powered lights if you’re making a small package. One of the lighted boxes that we have for sale on Trendy Tree has the lights wrapped around a coil like center instead of the lights wired into the sides. This might be an option that would save some time maybe. This sort of lights yields a soft glow to the box, or the purchased one do, I think the effect would be about the same. I’m thinking about some 3″ cardboard centers that we have out of a roll of packing material…..wrapping the lights around that several times. You know how a rolled of string of lights just glows….you could just put the bunch of lights under the box if you’re not going to be moving it around or anything.

· Toppings for your boxes are  just unlimited. With the gorgeous wire edge ribbons and Deco Poly Mesh….bow making is a snap. Love the use contrasting colors and textures. Other embellishments of tinsel, pieces of sprays, balls….

· Lighted boxes don’t just have to be for Christmas! Birthday parties …….multicolored boxes….decorated with polka dots or even the birthday party theme….I can see right now….I need more time for crafting!!

Thank you so much Typical Scrapbooked Janie! And thank you for being a member of the Trendy Tree Facebook Group. We look forward to seeing more of your creations and sharing ideas! Again, drop by Janie’s site for a visit ….you’ll be glad you did))

If you’re interested in crafting and decorating, please visit our new Trendy Tree Facebook Group (Sorry, group is now closed)- a community of Trendy Tree customers and friends  – just a great place to share ideas, photos, ask questions and see what other folks are creating. We still have our Trendy Tree Facebook page too. Be sure to drop by and “like” us to get the most up to date news and sometimes special discounts for our Facebook Friends and Facebook Friend Deals!

Lighted Christmas Box

Supply List:
rabbit wire
wire cutters
crochet thread
spray paint
100 string lights
metallic mesh material
and your embellishments
You need to cut 6 pieces of rabbit wire. I do mine 8 X 8. This pic shows what they look like when they are cut.See pic 1
The next step is to take your crochet thread and wrap each indivual piece. It can be in any pattern, this will help keep the lights inside and also make the box have a “textured” look. See pic 2
After all 6 pieces are wrapped, take 5 of them and lay them out like in the picture below. This makes it easier to line up the sides to attach them together with the zip ties. See pic 3
The next step is to attach the zip ties to hold it together. I always put 3 on each side. One on each corner and one in the middle. Repeat this step on all sides. The 6th piece will be put on after the box is completely assembled. See pic 4
After all sides are attached and the zip ties are trimmed, it is time to start “pulling” up the sides. These are done the same way as in the previous step, with 3 zip ties (one on each corner and one in the middle). Repeat this until the entire box is sturdy. See pic 5
After your box is put together it is now time to add the lid. All you do is place the 6th piece that you have and zip tie only one side. You will again use 3 ties. This will form something like a “hinge”. See pic 6
When you get to this step it is time to spray paint it. I use the Craft Coat that you find at Wal-Mart in the paint department, but you could use whichever brand that you like. I like this one because it dries quickly. This is what it will look like once it has been painted.See pic 7
After it has been painted and has dried, I put my lights in. In a box this size I always use at least a string of 100. You can use either white or color, I have used both and they both look good. See pic 8
Now it is time to close up the box. Once again you use 3 zip ties for each side. I always pull the light cord to one corner. This allows it to set flat. Once you have all the zip ties on, flip it over, this will now become the bottom of the box, with the light cord in the back. See pic 9
It is now time to wrap it. This is the type of material I use. See pic 10
There are 2 different ways to wrap it. I have done it both ways. The first is to just cut a large square of material and pull up the sides to where it meets on top. If you do it this way you will have to cut a slit in the fabric to feed the plug in out of.The second way and actually the one I prefer is to cut 2 strips of the fabic about 10 inches wide and lay it down to where it looks like a “t”. Sit the box in the center and pull up all 4 sides. See pic 11
Once the sides of the fabric are pulled up, I secure it with another zip tie. I make sure that the fabric is pulled tight, this makes the box look neater.When the sides are pulled up you will have a little extra fabric down the side corners of the box. I then fold the edges around the side of the box in and dab it with a little hot glue. Your plug in will now be able to come out without having to cut a slit in any of the fabric. In this picture you can see the left side of the box where I have folded it and haven’t glued it, and the right side I have. It depends on how tight the fabric is pulled, sometimes you don’t have to glue it, when it is folded in it will lay flat and tight.

Now comes the fun part!DECORATING!!!! I trim off the top of the fabric where it is tied with the zip tie to make it as flat as I can. I then take ribbon and wrap up the sides, like you would a chritmas present. I do all this with hot glue. Next it is time to decorate the top. You can use almost anything to embellis it. Ribbons, bows, flowers, christmas ornaments…..the sky is the limit. I am partial to flowers and ornaments so I usually do a combination of the both with a smaller ribbon. I also do this because I am not a very good bow maker This a pic of a gold one that I have decorated and I will post a pic of one done in silver below. See pic 13

Here is a pic of one done in silver. I hope that I have explained everything well enough, I was so nervous. If anyone has any questions please let me know. Also, all of the pictures of the boxes that have been done previously are all beautiful. Everyone done a great job on them! If anyone gets a chance to try these please post your pics, I would love to see everyone’s work! Thank you all for asking me to do this class and for being so patient, it has been a learning experience for me this morning too!

*DO NOT take photos/directions from this site and post elsewhere without permission from the author!! You may link to this site, but please don’t take credit for another person’s work. ALL lessons are the author’s copyrighted property and not intended for mass marketing.Thank you, & have fun crafting!

Outdoor Christmas Boxes

We have a very large porch, over 200 sq ft, and finding outdoor Christmas decorations to fill it up is nearly impossible on a budget. They are either way overpriced or so small that it would take many, many items to fill up the space. I’ve always loved the lighted holiday gift boxes found at stores like Menards and Home Depot but not only are they way too small, they cost nearly $40 for 3 small boxes. Well, I put my creativity and my husband’s handy carpentry skills to work and we came up with our own version of lighted outdoor holiday gift boxes. I decided not to do this post as a Do It Your Frugal Self Friday because I in fact, did not complete this project on my own and needed his help. So instead, I am just sharing how we spent our Sunday afternoon creating some outdoor Christmas decorations.

He created the frame of the boxes out of 1×4’s and spray painted the wood so it wouldn’t show through as much. He then wrapped the each frame with lights and stapled the cords to the wood so they wouldn’t move around. The 1×4’s cost about $1.50 each and he used 8 bringing our cost to $12. We picked up the light sets at Walmart for $2.48 each (4 boxes) for a total of $9.92.

I purchased decorative mesh ribbon at Sam’s Club for $6.87 each. I looked around for a ribbon that was thicker and could stand the elements and this worked out perfect since it is made of plastic and not fabric. I purchased 3 ribbons for a total of $20.61.

As you can see the boxes are very large and I definitely needed some help. The boxes are on the heavier side which is good for Wisconsin winters. The smaller boxes made of wire available at the stores would probably disappear in our first snow storm. I like my neighbors, but not that much. image063

We ended up with 2 large (first pic in this post) and 2 small gift boxes for a total of $42.53. I love the way they turned out and can’t wait to see them all lit up tonight!
*Update: Here are what they look like at night! Love them!

How to Decorate Your Tree like the Biltmore Christmas Trees


Lights and Ornaments

Wondering how many strands of lights you will need? Biltmore Estate has hordes of holiday decorating experts and offers this guide:

4-foot tree: Five sets of lights, two boxes of ornaments.

6-foot tree: Eight sets of lights, three or four boxes of ornaments.

8-foot tree: Twelve sets of lights, five boxes of ornaments.

10-foot tree: 20 sets of lights, six or seven boxes of ornaments.

“Good lighting is key,” says Cathy Barnhardt, Biltmore House’s floral displays manager. “Give your tree depth by working lights in and out of the branches. Then check your work by stepping back, squinting your eyes and checking for dark spots.”

Another tip: Tuck shiny ornaments deeply into the tree and work outward, Barnhardt advises. This creates depth and a supersized shine. Hang special and more decorative ornaments close to the branch tips.

Mantels, Swags, and Garland

Libby Endry of A Gardener’s Cottage in Biltmore Village likes to stick with natural elements for mantels and swags, lots of greens and berries. “I incorporate fruit lots of times,” she said, including pomegranates, apples and citrus fruits.

Instead of going with basic red for ribbons and accents, Endry adds coral, pink and orange colors to give the arrangement “a warm burnished effect.”

Going Green

LED holiday lights are not only eco-friendly, they can save you money, using about 90 percent less energy. And solar-powered Christmas lights for outdoor displays are available now. Matt Siegel of the WNC Green Building Council found some at Target in Asheville. If you can’t find them locally, try an online site such as, which sells a 50-light strand for $18.

Some models are programmable and will stay on for six, eight or 10 hours after sunset or until sunrise.

Keeping it green

A new product called Christmas Vacation will keep a tree fresh throughout the holiday season. Mix one 8-ounce bottle of Christmas Vacation with 1 gallon of water and pour the solution into the tree stand reservoir. The product is designed to keep the tree green with less needle drop for up to three-four weeks. (It can also be used on poinsettias and other potted plants.) An 8-ounce bottle of Christmas Vacation sells for about $14 at garden centers or online at Forgetting something? Oh yes, the tree

Expect to pay around $45 for a 5-foot Fraser fir tree at the WNC Farmers Market. An 8-footer will set you back $65 or so. Want to do smaller? Find a cut tabletop tree with stand for $25. Danny Welch of North Star Free Farm in Ashe County sells at the Asheville market. He had crews cutting trees this week for an expected big boom in Saturday sales. “This is the weekend people will buy their bigger trees,” he said. How big? Twelve- to 14-footers.

Looking for a live tree in a root ball? Jose Herrera, of Marshall, has you covered down at the WNC Farmers Market as well. And he’s selling wreaths for $20.

Finnish Pulla


Prep Time: 30 Minutes Ready In: 3 Hours 20 Minutes

Cook Time: 30 Minutes Servings: 36

“A unique bread with a sweet flavor that makes a wonderful holiday gift! It takes about 4 hours to make, so allow yourself plenty of time.”


  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110
  • Degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active
  • Dry yeast
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 9 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar


  • Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Let cool until lukewarm.
  • Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Stir in the lukewarm milk, sugar, salt, cardamom, 4 eggs, and enough flour to make a batter (approximately 2 cups). Beat until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add about 3 cups of the flour and beat well; the dough should be smooth and glossy in appearance. Add the melted butter or margarine, and stir well. Beat again until the dough looks glossy. Stir in the remaining flour until the dough is stiff.
  • Turn out of bowl onto a floured surface, cover with an inverted mixing bowl, and let rest for 15 minutes. Knead the dough until smooth and satiny. Place in a lightly greased mixing bowl, and turn the dough to grease the top. Cover with a clean dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch down, and let rise again until almost doubled.
  • Turn out again on to a floured surface, and divide into 3 parts. Divide each third into 3 again. Roll each piece into a 12 tubes.

Directions: (continued)

  •   16 inch strip. Braid 3 strips into a loaf. You should get 3 large braided loaves. Lift the braids onto greased baking sheets. Let rise for 20 minutes.
  • Brush each loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
  • Bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes. Check occasionally because the bottom burns easily.

Molasses Sugar Cookies


Prep Time: 25 Min Cook Time:15 Min Ready In:3 Hrs 40 Min Servings 72 peoples


  • 1 1/2 cups shortening
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • Melt the shortening in a large pan on the stove, and cool.
  • Add sugar, eggs, and molasses, beat well.
  • In a separate bowl, sift dry ingredients together and add to the pan. Mix well and chill 3 hours or overnight.
  • Form into walnut-size balls. Roll in granulated sugar. Place on greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
  • Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 8-10 minutes.
  • Store in an airtight container to keep from getting overly crisp. If they do lose their softness, an easy way to restore it is to place one slice of fresh bread in the container with the cookies for a couple of hours or overnight and they will be soft again!

Nutritional Information Amount Per Serving Calories: 93 | Total Fat: 4.5g | Cholesterol: 6mg .





  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 8 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 11⁄2 cups (3 sticks) butter or margarine
  • 7 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 8 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8 large eggs
  • 6 cups pecans, coarsely chopped


  • 1 • Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease four 13″ by 9″ baking pans. In medium
  • bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt until blended.
  • 2 • In 5-quart saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Remove from heat.
  • With wooden spoon, stir in brown sugar and vanilla. Beat in eggs until
  • well blended. Stir in flour mixture just until blended. Stir in pecans. Divide
  • batter equally among prepared pans: spread evenly.
  • 3 • Bake, in two batches, until toothpick inserted 2 inches from edge of
  • pan comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Do not overbake. Blondies will
  • firm as they cool. Cool completely in pans on wire racks.
  • 4 • When cool, cut each pastry lengthwise into 4 strips, then cut each
  • strip crosswise into 6 pieces.

EACH BLONDIE: About 160 calories, 2 g protein, 21 g carbohydrate, 8 g total fat (2 g saturated), 25 mg cholesterol, 180 mg sodium.