Unilever logo
Cleanipedia ZA logo
Stay informed! Visit the SA Department of Health's website for COVID-19 updates: www.sacoronavirus.co.za.

How to decorate a small Christmas tree with kids (but without all the mess!)

With our tree decorating ideas, your kids will have fun but the mess will be minimal!


a Christmas tree next to a fire place

Decorating a Christmas tree with kids can be lots of fun but it also has the potential to be a bit stressful and messy if you wade straight in without a plan! That’s where our Christmas tree decorating tips and step-by-step instructions come in. Once you know how to decorate a small Xmas tree, you’ll look forward to this wonderful part of the festive season.

When decorating a Christmas tree with kids, turn on fairy lights before placing them on the tree. This way you can check for blown bulbs and ensure you distribute them on branches more evenly.

Small Christmas tree ideas

Before you think about Christmas tree decorating ideas, you need to focus on the tree itself. Do you want an artificial tree or a real tree? There are pros and cons of each: artificial trees are cost-effective and easy because you don’t have to keep buying one and they don’t shed needles, but real trees have that scent that just conjures up Christmas.

There are a couple of ways to make the most of each option:

  • Real Christmas tree ideas: consider buying a real tree in a pot so that it doesn’t just last one festive season. Your kids will love growing up alongside their tree and you can even get varieties that don’t drop as many needles.

  • Artificial Christmas tree ideas: look for fibre optic trees that light up so you can reduce the number of decorations, and lights, you need to add. If you really miss that real tree smell, then you can buy scented sprays to add it in yourself.

Christmas decoration ideas for kids

Now, onto the decorations. With kids, bright and shiny decorations are always popular but there are some safety considerations too. With baubles, avoid glass or anything spiky that could break easily or catch little faces as they lean in to admire their tree.

The Poll

What triggers you the most when kids get messy?

0 Votes

For Christmas decoration ideas that are beyond the norm, get your kids to showcase their homemade creations or craft a personalised decoration for each member of the family. Kids love anything with their name on!

How to decorate a small Christmas tree

The key is scale and proportion. A small tree needs small decorations, so it doesn’t look unbalanced – and to avoid it literally falling over! It’s common sense but, when kids are involved, the ‘less is more’ approach doesn’t always come naturally. Here are some of our favourite small Christmas tree ideas to help yours look its best:

  • Miniature fairy lights are easier to work with on small trees.

  • Choose mini versions of hanging decorations that are light as well as small.

  • Go for short, thin strips of tinsel, instead of long, bushy ones.

  • Pick a small star or fairy for the top.

How to decorate a Christmas tree step-by-step

There are certain principles that apply no matter what size the tree, like the order in which you put things on. This is one of our most important Christmas tree decorating tips. As long as you know how, it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3:

  1. Position the lights, trying to wrap and distribute them evenly around the branches.

  2. Then, drape the tinsel over the branches. You can use strings of beads if you prefer.

  3. Place hanging decorations on the tree. You can either opt for a symmetrical approach, placing larger items at the bottom and small at the top, or hang them more randomly for an authentic feel.

  4. Finish with the tree topper – an angel or star is traditional.

  5. Clean the area surrounding the tree with a surface cleaner like Handy Andy and remove any strips of tinsel (and needles that have dropped if using a real tree).

Now you know how to decorate a Christmas tree, all that’s left to do is make a few decisions: real or artificial; star or fairy. With our tree decorating ideas, putting up your Christmas tree with the kids will be the happy occasion it’s meant to be. Merry Christmas!

  • Choose between a real and an artificial tree.

  • Stick to tree decorating ideas that work on a small scale, like mini baubles.

  • Position lights first, then tinsel, and finally the hanging decorations.

  • Clean up around your tree after decorating and keep it tidy throughout the season.

Originally published