John Lewis run a number of in-store events in the run up to Christmas, from wreath making to creating your own Christmas jumper – and a ‘treetorial’. The experiences are great value with refreshments included and many of the experiences include free gifts or vouchers equivalent to the cost of the experience which can be spent in-store.
We recently popped along to one of their ‘treetorials’ on decorating a tree. With an experienced team of in-store merchandisers and stylists who gradually transform the store in the run up to Christmas, we really enjoyed their demonstration.
We were offered a festive drink (Prosecco) or orange juice to begin and then we got to watch the team put together a display inspired by their nightlife theme. Alongside many other retailers, John Lewis pre-prepare a number of thematic styles to help inspire your decorations for Christmas. There were a couple of decorations you may never have seen on a tree before such as a couple of neon stars which were placed strategically around the tree.
The tree being used was a pre-lit 7ft artificial tree, if you’re using a tree without lights, you’d want to start by getting the lights on the tree. The danger to doing so later when you discover the lights won’t reach the plug and you need to move the tree, is a floor strewn with decorations and broken glass. As decorating a tree is not something we do every day, it’s often worth taking a moment to think through the decorating plan!
John Lewis Treetorial team
The John Lewis Treetorial team began by using tinsel to fill in the gaps between the layers of the artificial tree they were using. This is something you could also do with a real Christmas tree if there are sparse areas. While tinsel is often used on the outermost layer of decorations the team used the tinsel to create additional texture and inserts further into the tree. They then used some garlands which might traditionally be used on mantelpieces, around the deeper parts of the tree, helping to create a layered look.
The tree was then decorated with a wide variety of different shatter proof baubles – different styles, sizes and colours which worked very well together. The main colours were red, pink, grey and green. The tree was then layered with some glass decorations from the nightlife collection like this fun cocktail bauble:
In addition to the glass decorations, they had a few more different styles of decorations such as eco-friendly paper honeycomb baubles and some clip-on butterflies. The finished tree in the treetorial looked amazing, and the uniform conical shape of the artificial tree creates a very pleasing final look. The missing touch for artificial trees is often the real tree smell but the team recommended the use of Scentsicles sticks which can be hung around the tree in different seasonal fragrances such as cinnamon or winter fur.
The full range of in-store Christmas experiences at John Lewis is very impressive!
Christmas tree decorating tips
This Is how the Christmas tree decorating experts at John Lewis decorate their trees.
- Start with tinsel deep (perfect with an artificial tree if you have ‘gaps’ or the sparse areas of a natural tree.
- Garlands – often used more traditionally on mantelpieces – they used these amongst the branches as a lower-level background
- Baubles – the tree was decorated with a combination of shatterproof baubles and glass decorations. Larger baubles in the treetorial were placed deeper on the branches closer to the centre of the tree – to give some sense of depth and to help with keeping them in place. Smaller, lighter baubles were placed lower down on the branches closer to the outside of the tree. In this way, you don’t cover the small baubles with the larger baubles if you’re using a lot of baubles.
Add a lot of baubles for a fun and busy look
This particular design had a lot of baubles for a fun and busy look. If you’ve got fewer baubles, you can space them out around the tree.
Bauble attachments – many baubles are already pre-strung or have loose strings supplied in the packaging.
An alternative we saw in the treetorial is to use metal hooks or clips (which look a bit like paper clips) which can be fed through decorations to secure them to the tree.
Depending on the clip used, these can be an excellent choice for more fragile glass decorations and help prevent the smashing of fragile glass baubles and the associated mess due to curious children or playful pets.
Artificial trees are composed of two types of tips: one made from PE and one from PVC (a tree may be made of one type or a mix of both).
Christmas tree branches made from PE are moulded to create the actual look of real Christmas tree branches.
There are realistic mouldings of real Christmas tree tips and there are also tips which, on close inspection, have a more tinselly look which are made from PVC.
If your tree has some PVC tips these can usually be bent back on themselves to help secure fragile decorations like glass.
How many Decorations should I have on the tree?
Of course, there is no right answer here. In the treetorial, we learnt that a large tree can look very elegant with just a handful of large baubles. Equally, part of the joy of celebrating Christmas is looking to the past and bringing out your multi-year collection of decorations.
If you’ve got children helping to decorate, it’s difficult to suggest that less is more. The joy of a decorated Christmas tree is often that instant nostalgia you feel when you see that Santa decoration you bought at Woolworths in 1992.
Colour combinations for Christmas trees
After the John Lewis Treetorial, we started thinking about what we had learned and went on to do some more research about the colours that are trendy this year and how they can be used.
There’s no doubt that the Treetorial was inspirational and here are our thoughts on what you can do with your Christmas tree and the colour combinations:
There are lots of tried and tested themes that work. Traditional Christmas colours like gold and red work well on their own or combined. Silver, which is another very traditional colour, also combines well with many colours or works well with high contrast combinations for example blue.
Having a single colour of decoration can create a nice, unified style. You can create some variation by adding different sizes of baubles or different finishes (perhaps combining glossy with matt).
If you are attracted to a tighter colour theme you might try a few different shades within the same colour sphere for example a light green like sage green alongside a darker green like mistletoe green. You can also look to create contrast with different sizes of baubles and different shapes and finishes. Combining different finishes such as matt, shiny and sparkly finishes make for a very eye-catching display. You can use the same idea to pair colours which are quite close in character – for example, a dark blue with a purple.
There is also a lot to be said for combining very different colours – colour theory suggests that combining opposites can create maximum contrast and some of these combinations can work very well. For example, pinks and purples represent a strong contrast to green. Not all high contrast combinations will work, but you’ll often be surprised at how seemingly unrelated colours can work brilliantly together. Professional decorators will often create stunning displays with colour combinations you’d never have thought of. In recent years there have been a lot of very popular dark baubles such as midnight blue and even black which help create a more dramatic look.
If there is one time of year where anything goes, it’s Christmas. If the decorated tree helps bring the festive feeling into the home, it’s helping you enjoy your Christmas. The Christmas tree I remember from my childhood was slightly chaotic with nothing like a unified style or theme. Lots of different sets of decorations purchased over many years being combined. For us as the helpers, as long as you had empty branches and more decorations you’d keep going. Over several years, the collection would change, the wood decorations would survive but the glass decorations would dwindle year-on-year till eventually all that was left was a single bauble which was once a full set. There is still a wonderful nostalgia to seeing decorations you’ve seen for many years (particularly customised pieces that can grow up with your kids).
A combination of different styles is often what creates a stylish yet meaningful decoration style. The treetorial showed that perhaps an overall colour theme alongside a few chaotic accents from the young team of decorators. It’s also nice to have a little scope to add to your collection each year – maybe only few single pieces that make you smile or remind you of a special occasions – like a baby’s first Christmas.