When I was just 16 years old, I visited Longwood Gardens to see the over-the-top Christmas display. Alongside the traditional masses of red poinsettia, garlands of evergreen and pinecones, and enormous boxwood topiaries, I saw — and fell in love with — a sparkling 15′ tall, all white Christmas tree.
Of course, that was a long, long time ago. But, ever since, I have been collecting white ornaments (with some silver and gold thrown in for good measure) for my very own sophisticated, white Christmas tree.
Although I have been gifted with a few very treasured pieces of Waterford and Lenox, I also have a fair number of inexpensive pieces to “fill in.” These include 144 crystal icicles that I bought on clearance for less than $10 total one July (the saleswoman thought I was nuts), crystal drops from a defunct chandelier that I picked up for a mere .10 each at a thrift store (find of the decade!), and some enormous clear balls I unearthed at AC Moore after the holiday.
The key to creating a magical white Christmas tree is really a five-step process.
- First, even if your tree is pre-lit, add more lights. Add lights until you think there are too many… and then add more!
- Next, place reflective ornaments (especially mirrors or mirrored pieces) deep within the branches and at the back of the tree. They will reflect all of those lights and the tree will “glow” from deep within.
- Then, space out the stark white pieces. I place all of the solid white pieces first, then add silvery, gold and crystal pieces. Throughout the season, I find myself occasionally rearranging a bit, to make sure there are no “clumps” of white.
- And, for a professional look, make sure there are enough different shapes and sizes, but that there are repeats of ornaments. For example, I have a dozen oversized, round ornaments (9? across), several mercury glass pinecones (12? long each), and numerous spires and teardrop shaped pieces. These anchor the tree visually. Then I can add all of the unique, one-of-a-kind ornaments such as snowflakes, hearts, lyres, snowmen, and birds of all types.
- Finally, finding a white (or silver or gold) tree skirt can be challenging, since red seems to dominate. But, I’ve improvised a unique solution – a vintage 1960s “blond” mink coat that was in tatters (literally falling to shreds) lovingly wrapped around the base looks stunning. Real or faux fur coats and jackets are readily available at thrift stores. (And, if you are really clever, you can cut it up and make a proper skirt.)
My tree (above) may not be 15? tall like my Longwood Gardens inspiration tree, but it is always a favorite at our annual Christmas party. If you would like to get started on a white Christmas tree of your own, I’ve found some lovely pieces below.
I am always dreaming of a “white Christmas.!”
Want more holiday inspiration? Check out Susan’s Christmas on Pinterest. I’ve curated dozens of looks you are sure to love.
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