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Must-Read, Expert Guide to Assembling Your Artificial Christmas Tree

Learn how to properly assemble, shape, light, and decorate your artificial Christmas tree for the holiday season.

What's Inside


BH Noble Fir™

Christmas trees are the central focus of Yuletide celebrations. They represent life, hope, and family traditions. Whether you have an old or brand new tree, a towering spruce, or a petite pine, you will want to have the most inspiring and beautiful tree possible. Learn how to properly assemble your tree and turn it into the ultimate Christmas showpiece.



How to Assemble a Christmas Tree

1. Choose a Location

Unless a Christmas tree is fitted with a rolling stand, it's always advisable to assemble a tree at the exact spot where it will be displayed. Consider these factors when choosing a location.

Ideal Areas

For maximum visibility, place the Christmas tree in the room where the family gathers most often, such as the living room, dining room, or den. Find a spot where the tree can be seen from multiple vantage points and not just from one position.

Consider the possibility of rearranging furniture to accommodate the tree. It may also be practical to set the tree near electrical outlets to avoid unsightly extension cords.

Areas to Avoid

Avoid placing the tree near light controls as decorations may be accidentally knocked down when people reach for the light switch.

Never place the tree near heat sources, such as heating vents, exhausts, or the fireplace. Avoid setting it up near the staircase, behind a door, areas with busy foot traffic, or locations exposed to harsh elements.

Important Measurements

Before purchasing a new Christmas tree, measure the selected space to ensure the tree will fit properly. A tree that is too large looks cramped, and may block natural pathways and entryways. For detailed instructions on how to measure an area for a tree, please refer to our article on Christmas tree measurements.

2. Inspect the Pieces

For pre-lit trees, examine the tree sections to ensure that there is no cut or frayed wire insulation, exposed wiring, loose connections, or cracks in the light bases. If there are cracked or missing bulbs, replace them by following the tree manufacturer's instructions for that particular make and model.

3. Set Up the Stand

The stand is the foundation of a straight and stable Christmas tree. Here are some points to remember:

Types of Stands

Standard Stands

Most artificial Christmas tree stands are X-shaped and are usually constructed out of plastic or metal. If a stand becomes wobbly or damaged from normal use, check the tree's warranty to see if the stand can be replaced. Some plastic bases may be prone to bending or breaking, so avoid these as much as possible. Balsam Hill trees come with a one-piece steel stand, which is designed to remain sturdy and stable for many years.





Rolling Stands

Rolling stands, such as the Balsam Hill Tree Stand with Wheels, are equipped with wheels that allow the tree to be moved easily. The wheels can be locked in place to keep it from sliding.









Spinning Stands

A spinning tree stand has an electric motor that rotates the tree at varying speeds. Rotating stands show off the entire assortment of decorations as it spins.






Setting up the Stand

For pre-lit trees, examine the tree sections to ensure that there is no cut or frayed wire insulation, exposed wiring, loose connections, or cracks in the light bases. If there are cracked or missing bulbs, replace them by following the tree manufacturer's instructions for that particular make and model.

Instructions for Standard Stands

For one-piece tree stands, such as Balsam Hill's, pull apart the legs until they are X-shaped. Next, align the holes in the base and the flange, then screw the eye bolt through the flange. The flange is the circular piece of metal that goes between the eye bolt and the hole of the base. For two-piece stands, slide the pieces together and press the center hubs until theyclicks into place. For directions on mounting a tree on this type of stand, please refer to section 1.d.1. below.

Instructions for Rolling Stands and Spinning Stands

Before making a purchase, check whether the specialized stand can accommodate the diameter of the Christmas tree. Most stands of these types come fully assembled. If not, refer to the instruction manual for proper assembly and mounting.

4. Assemble the Sections

Most artificial Christmas trees have labels to aid you in the correct assembly sequence. Always follow the tree manufacturer's manual for proper assembly instructions. These are the general steps to take:

Assembly Directions

1. With the hinged branches folded up and tied with a ribbon, take the bottom section of the tree and place the pole into the tree stand.

2. Once the pole is fully inserted, tighten the eye bolt to secure and center it.

3. Untie the ribbon and let the branches fall into place.

4. If you have a pre-lit tree, plug in the lights to make sure all the bulbs are working and evenly spaced. See "How to Light a Christmas Tree" section for a detailed guide.

5. Fluff and shape the branches, making sure to lift and separate the inner branches to hide the trunk and make the tree look full. Check the branches from different angles to see if you missed any spots.See "How to Shape a Christmas Tree" for a detailed guide.

Pro Tip:
Put a light coat of lubricant on the end of the pole so that it slides easily into the base. Lubricating the poles of each section will make it easier to assemble and dismantle later on.

6. When you're satisfied with how the branches and lights look, repeat steps 1 to 5 for the next section.

7. Do the same for the remaining sections, stopping every now and then to check how the tree looks from a distance.

Assembling Other Tree Types

Easy Plug™ Trees

Easy Plug™ refers to pre-lit Balsam Hill trees with pre-installed light connections inside the trunk. The bulbs will automatically light up as the poles connect to each other.

1. Insert the bottom section into the stand.

2. Like the standard tree, it's recommended to fluff and shape the branches first before placing the next section. See "How to Shape a Christmas Tree" for a detailed guide.

3. Plug the light cord into a wall outlet and check the bulbs.See the "How to Light a Christmas Tree" section for a detailed guide.

4. Repeat steps 1 to 3 for the remaining sections, stopping every now and then to check the tree from a distance.

Pull-Up Trees

These trees are received in a collapsed form. To assemble, insert the center pole into the bottom section, pull up the foliage-covered frame to its full height, and then insert the top section. For pre-lit models, connect the light plugs into their corresponding sockets according to the supplied lighting diagram.

Hooked Construction

This type of tree has color-coded branches that need to be individually hooked to the center pole. Each branch can be shaped and fluffed before adding the next one. This process usually takes longer than setting up a tree with a hinged construction. This tree type is not available in pre-lit models.



How to Shape a Christmas Tree

Preparation and Tips

  • Wear gloves to protect your hands while fluffing the tree.
  • For pre-lit trees, it's best to shape the tree with its lights switched on to see if they're evenly distributed.
  • Shape the branches by layers and sections. This way, you'll easily see if there are any gaps and adjust them accordingly. Don't insert the next section until you've properly fluffed the one before it.
  • Refer to product photos online as a visual guide in shaping a particular style of tree. Some styles have "downswept" branches that are slightly angled downward, while other styles may have "upswept" tips that curve upward.

Procedure

1. Begin with the bottom section and work on the lowest layer first. If the section has three layers, fold up the two layers and tie a ribbon around them.

2. To make sure that there are no gaps, start from the inner branches that are closest to the trunk.

3. Separate the individual tips from the main branch and spread them out and away from the center of the tree.When properly fluffed, these inner tips should resemble a peacock's fanned tail and will hide the trunk.

4. For most tree styles, the tips closest to the center pole should be angled upwards to give the tree a full appearance. The tips farthest from the center poles should be angled diagonally away from the branch.

5. Step back and survey the tree from a distance. Check for any gaps that need more shaping. For lighted trees, make sure that the lights are evenly distributed.

6. When you're done with the first layer of branches, untie the next one and repeat steps 1 to 4. Do the same for the last layer.

7. Insert the next section and repeat steps 1-5.

8. Repeat all the previous steps for all the remaining sections, stopping every now and then to check the tree from a distance.

Take note that the first time you assemble the tree requires the most shaping, so take your time and you'll be rewarded with a fantastic-looking tree.



How to Light a Christmas Tree

Pre-Lit Trees

With lighted trees, you only need to connect the plugs into their respective sockets. Plugs and sockets are usually identified with a color-coded or numbered sticker. Use the lighting diagram supplied with the tree for proper instructions. If a certain section of the tree does not light up, take these recommended steps:

1. Ensure that the section is fully plugged into its corresponding socket.

2. Locate the fuse compartment for the light string. Remove and check the fuses to ensure they have not blown. Replace blown fuses with the type recommended by the tree's manufacturer.

3. Gently nudge each bulb very slightly to identify if a bulb wire is slightly misaligned in the socket. Each bulb must be properly in its socket to ensure a good connection.

4. Check each bulb in the unlit section and replace any missing or broken bulbs.

5. Locate the master bulb and make sure it works. A broken master bulb can cause half or the whole light strand to go out. In older trees, the master bulb cannot be replaced, making it necessary to replace the entire strand. However, Balsam Hill's trees from 2013 and on feature replaceable master bulbs, identified with a gray base. Now, if a master bulb goes out, it can be simply replaced with a new masterbulb.

Innovative Pre-Lit Trees

Balsam Hill's line of Instant Evergreen™trees, including the Balsam Hill Centennial Fir Instant Evergreen, features a recent innovation called Easy Plug™. With this technology, all the lighting wires are built directly into the center pole or "tree trunk", which eliminates the need for multiple sockets. The only plug to be touched is the one to be plugged into the wall. When plugged in, the tree lights automatically connect as the tree sections are being assembled.

Another great feature of Balsam Hill's Instant Evergreen trees is its unique memory wire branches. The pre-shaped branches automatically fan out into place as the tree is set up, minimizing the time and effort spent in fluffing the tree.

Unlit Trees

For unlit trees, follow these steps:

1. Untangle the lights carefully and lay them out on a flat surface. Plug them in to test that they are working. Ensure that the tree is bare of any ornaments before stringing the lights.

2. Coil the first set of Christmas lights loosely around your hands. Avoid dragging the cords across the floor.

3. Begin at the bottom of the tree. Using the part nearest the plug as a starting point, wrap the light strand around the trunk at the base of the tree and work up.

4. From the top of the tree, wrap the light strands around the branches near the trunk. Work down as you wind the lights around each branch evenly from the middle of the branch to the tip.

5. Every time you reach the tip, bring the lights back to the center of the tree, and then proceed to the next branch. Once you get to the end of the string lights, plug in another set.

6. If tie strings are used to attach the lights strands, cut off any excess plastic after the tie has been pulled tight to give the branches a cleaner look.

7. Once the entire tree is covered, plug in the lights and check the overall balance. Adjust accordingly if there are lights hidden or covered by any branches.

For more information about stringing Christmas tree lights, please refer to The Tangle-Free, How-To Guide for Hanging Christmas Lights.

Decide between an incandescent or LED light. Traditional incandescent lights are generally less expensive and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. In addition, many people enjoy its warm glow. LED lights are more expensive but are far more energy-efficient, leading to reduced electricity costs. LED lights are cooler to the touch. The latest models now mimic the candlelit radiance similar to incandescent bulbs.



How to Decorate a Christmas Tree

Choose a Color Theme

Having a color theme helps give a Christmas tree a well-planned and harmonious look. For a touch of elegance, opt for ornaments with jewel tone colors, such as ruby red, emerald green, and sapphire blue.

For a traditional look, hang red and green decorations to evoke childhood memories and feelings of nostalgia. Heirloom or inherited ornaments are perfect for this theme.

A monochromatic theme makes a strong visual impact. Focus on one solid color in varying tones. Use ornaments with different textures and finishes, such as shiny glass, sparkly crystal, or matte.

Mix up gold, silver, and bronze ornaments for a modern, metallic look. Accent standard Christmas ornaments with a selection of metallic jewelry, figurines, or trinkets to achieve an interesting array of colors.

Add Ornaments

Instead of dangling ornaments randomly throughout the tree, use them to give the tree a balanced and graceful look. It's recommended to start decorating from the top of the tree and working towards the bottom. This prevents accidentally dislodging ornaments from the top and breaking those at the bottom. You can place towels or a blanket under the tree when handling delicate or fragile items.

As a general rule, use large ornaments at the bottom of the tree, medium-sized ones in the middle, and smaller ornaments at the top to emphasize the tree's natural triangular shape.

To add dimension to the tree and cover any gaps, place large baubles deep into the tree to act as a backdrop or filler. Shiny or iridescent balls help achieve depth and fullness. Don't hesitate to reshape branches to make room for the balls. Proceed to hang smaller, textured or intricate ornaments on the tips.

When using garlands, start wrapping the tree from the top and spiral downwards. Create a wavy pattern for more visual interest.

How to Decorate with a Tree Topper

Determine the Ideal Tree Topper Shape and Size

Remember to use a topper that complements the profile of the Christmas tree. For a tree with a full, conical silhouette, use a bold and brilliant topper, such as a star or an angel. For narrow or slim trees, use an elongated topper to enhance its slender form.

Use the tree's height to determine the ideal proportion of the topper. Use the size chart below as a guide:

Whatever the height of the tree, it is advisable to allow at least 5 inches gap between the tip of the topper and the ceiling.

Place the Tree Topper

It is important to mount a tree topper securely to prevent it from falling off and possibly ruining some ornaments or causing injury. For a topper with a conical base, bend one of the top branches and insert it into the cone. Crumple surrounding branches to give the topper additional support.

If a topper has a spring or spiral base, insert the tree's sturdy top branch into the topper's coil. Use green floral tape to secure the topper and conceal the spring.

Ribbon tree toppers are light and easy to attach as it has a wire that wraps easily around the top branch. Pipe cleaners can be used to reinforce support for the ribbon topper.

For heavy tree toppers, we recommend using fasteners, such as the Balsam Hill Tree Topper Extension Kit, to give it more stability. For more information on how to choose the perfect tree topper, please read this article.

Follow these expert artificial Christmas tree assembly tips for an inspiring and unforgettable holiday. For more inspiration on how you can decorate your tree, see our article on Christmas tree themes.