Fabled Longwood Gardens has just opened its annual holiday tours and it’s beginning to to look a lot like Christmas! When I was just 16 years old, I visited Longwood Gardens to see the annual, over-the-top Christmas display. Alongside the traditional masses of red poinsettias, garlands of evergreen and pinecones, and enormous boxwood topiaries, I saw – and fell in love with – a 15′ tall all-white Christmas tree.
Of course, that was a long, long time ago. But, ever since, I have been collecting white and crystal ornaments for my very own sophisticated, all-white tree.
Although I have some very expensive 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 one July (I bought every single box in the store), crystal drops from a defunct chandelier that I picked up for a mere .10 each at a thrift store, and some clear balls I unearthed at a craft store after the holidays.
The key to creating a magical all-white tree is really a four-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! It’s essential that you follow the instructions on the number of lights you can connect together. This is listed on the outside of the box. Traditional incandescent bulbs will usually support about 5 strands. New LED bulbs can often support up to 20 stands! (Click here for more Holiday Lighting Fire Safety Tips)
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. Small, inexpensive mirrors (often in pretty shapes, such as diamonds and ovals) can be purchased at Michaels, Hobby Lobby and even Dollar Tree. Just hot glue on some attractive ribbon sandwiched between two mirrors, and you have a dazzling piece for your tree.
Then, space out the white and silver/crystal. I place all of the solid white pieces first, then add silvery and crystal pieces. Throughout the season, I find myself occasionally rearranging a bit, to make sure there are no “clumps” of white – I like it spaced pretty evenly.
Finally, for a professional look, make sure there are enough different shapes and sizes, but that there are also repeats of some 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 in all of the unique, one-of-a-kind ornaments like snowflakes, hearts, lyres, snowmen, and clip-on birds of all types.
My tree may not be 15′ tall like my Longwood Gardens inspiration tree, but it is always a favorite. I’ve included some inspiration to get you started on your own all-white tree. Merry Christmas!
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