Christmas 2016 – Prepare ahead.

Christmas 2016 is just four short months away.

The idea of Christmas 2016 at the end of August is almost as bad as all those promotions that advertise Christmas in July.  The problem we have in the Christmascaping industry is that if we aren’t on top of it now, we are really already getting behind.  If we begin to make our calls to customers much before the Labor Day holiday, clients are never ready for the discussion.  We are continually formulating ideas of how to improve and make changes to the settings we provided for them from last year’s decor.  They are nowhere near ready to think about what they had last year, what they might want different this year or especially, what they have in their budget to make any enhancements or additions for this season.

Now is the time for considering your decorating for Christmas 2016.

You may not be prepared to think about Christmas and the challenges and fun of decorating for the holidays right now but this is the best time to begin considering exactly how that magical seasonal change will look for you for 2016.  Will you want or need a professional service to handle this task for you?  Do you have a tree and lighting that is still in good condition from previous seasons?  What about the decorations your have been using?  Have you considered a new color or theme for your design?  No plan?  Well, here are some great ideas.

Home Christmas DecorWhere do you begin?

The Christmas tree is the focal point for the majority of holiday decorating.  Sizes will vary depending on the situation and if you are in a home or business setting.  For purposes of the content of this discussion, let’s use the dimensions of a standard 7 1/2′ artificial tree.  There are several basic rules of thumb when you begin with the size of the Christmas tree. How many lights will you need?  Should you use a pre-lit tree?  How many ornaments and varieties of sizes and shapes should be used?  What will the cost of the tree, lights, ornaments and other decor mean to a budget?    If you are having a professional handle the decorating, what kind of costs will need to be set aside for that service?  And then, what kind of the or color scheme do you intend to utilize?

Pre-lit or un-lit?

Any good quality artificial tree should be able to last for many seasons of decorating.  The biggest question aside from the type of tree to buy is, lighted or pre-lit, or non-lighted – one which you would need to light yourself.  For the most past, artificial trees today are 3 section trees that have branches that fold down.  These trees are designed to be taken apart for easy storage.

For my part, I always prefer to get a tree that I can light my own way.  This is my choice because once the guarantee on the lights is over, it is much easier to change out any strands of lights that no longer work.  You have put them on the tree so you will know exactly how and where you strung them on in the first place.  So much of the horror of decorating is due to lighting issues.  You know the case…the tree goes up simple enough.  Then you plug it in.  Lights are out here and there and it takes an electrician to find the problem.  There are several really good ways to light a tree yourself.  That is a subject for another time.

RulesOfThumbForChristmasTreesHow many lights?

7 1/2′ trees look best when lit with a minimum of 100 lights per foot.  If you get a pre-lit tree, most will come with 750 – 850 lights.  These will cost and average of about $100 per foot for a good quality tree.  Don’t get me wrong.  You can find some pretty good bargains if you shop right but this is an industry average. So, did you catch those 2 rules of thumb? 100 lights per foot. The cost of the tree, $100 per foot.

If you are considering lighting your tree yourself, you can get the same tree for about $50 per foot.  Depending on the type and quantity of lights you want to use, you can usually save by doing the lighting yourself.  That means you can save and avoid future frustration.  If you purchase regular Italian style lights, you can plan to spend about $40 – $50 on lights.  If you choose to use LED lights, you can plan on spending 2 – 3 times more for your light sets.

The Profession Choice for lighting.

As a professional, we try to always buy non-lighted trees.  It saves a huge amount of time in decorating each year.   We always use strands that have the least amount of lights.  We try to get sets of 50 and no more than 100.  When you buy larger strands, your are only getting sets that are wired in multiples of 50.  This means that you can have a strand that will only have half of a strand that lights as the sets get older.  Replacing shorter strands is a much easier process as well.  Yes, new lights are a required expense but in the long run, it is well worth it.  Either way, you can always add more lights or novelty lighting to make your tree unique. Professionals do this all the time. Ideas for that are another subject as well.

Varieties of Ornaments.

For a Christmas tree that is 7 1/2′, the most appropriate choice for a number of varieties of ornaments is usually at least 5.  There should be one larger, focal type ornament.  The size for this ornament could be anywhere from 5-6 inches, depending on the shape. You will want at least 9 – 12 of these ornaments.

The next choice you need to make is to compliment the largest ornament with 2 or 3 ornaments in the 3-4 inch size.  You would want to be sure to have at least 12 – 18 of each of these for your tree.

Your final consideration for ornaments would be the filler ornament.  This could be a floral spray or accent ornament that has a more delicate look to it.  You would need at least 2 dozen of these.  If you have set a budget for your expenses, this will dictate what types of ornaments you want to look for. At this point you will be considering approximately 5 dozen ornaments to cover your tree.  Costs can range anywhere from $100. – $150. on the low end to anywhere on up.

The Professional Choice for using ornaments.

When professionals consider ornaments for Christmas trees, there is always a theme or color scheme in mind.  The feature, or focal ornament is what your eye will pick up first.  It should be true to your theme or main color.  The next 2 or 3 ornament choices should be complimentary tones, colors or shapes if the theme is color based. For example, If your feature ornament is a red poinsettia, your would want to choose a teardrop in gold, a round in a red subtle pattern or with a gold accent, and a textured round in gold.  The filler ornament you would look for would be some kind of complimentary floral spray like a berry cluster that would have interesting sprigs of vines or foliage for additional texture. Something with flecks of gold would serve to enhance the gold ornaments as well.

Corporate Holiday DecorThe Finishing Touches.

Your Christmas tree is not complete without garland and a fabulous topper.  Garland can be mesh, ribbon, beads or any number of novelty choices that are available.  If you choose to use a garland of beads or novelty items, these are most time sold in 6′ sections.  For a 7 1/2′ tree, you would need to have no less than 6 – 7 strands of garland.  Garland, like ornaments, can cost anywhere from $2. – $3. on the low end and higher.  With that in mind, your garland costs would be at least $12. – $21.

A more Professional finish.

Utilizing mesh or ribbon can be more expensive but also be a more elegant look.  It can also fill in empty spaces much more efficiently than bead garland and can be shaped to create a flow that bead garland is not designed to do.  For mesh or ribbon, you should figure that it will take at least 12 yards of material to appropriately cover the tree.  Ribbon is most often sold by the bolt and comes in lengths of 10 – 25 yards per bolt.  Again, costs will vary based on size and quality.  If you can find a bolt of ribbon for $6. – $7. you are in the ballpark. So, another $12 – $14. for your ribbon for the garland.

For your tree topper, if you have chosen to use ribbon, you will want to consider this in the amount of ribbon you will need.  To make a beautiful bow for the top of your tree you will need another 5 – 6 yards of material.  Always think more for trailing tails and then you can just add one more bolt of ribbon to your costs.  A really fabulous topper would also include extra sprays of your filler ornament or perhaps some sparkling or glittery branches to compliment your lighting.

Complete your plan.

Now that you have the bulk of the basics for your tree, let’s look at the costs. Assuming that you do not have any existing stock as we discussed above, you will need to consider a basic budget of a minimum of approximately $650. – $700. if you light the tree on you own.

If you only plan to set up a tree for your Christmas decorating, you can see from this example what you may need to invest.  What about matching wreath(s), garland(s) or accent arrangement(s)?  You will need to factor any additional complimentary decor into your budgeting.

Profession or DIY.

The question of who will prepare, set up and then take down and pack your decorating is a critical component of your budget.  Can you or do you want to be responsible for this Christmas decorating?  Are you thinking about having your decorating done professionally?

A professional decorating team will take all of the worry and stress of the work of your decorating off of you.  A team leader will visit with you to determine your ideas, needs and design thoughts.  The team will provide you with a fully completed service that will give you an opportunity to sit back and peacefully enjoy the beauty of your holidays.  No decorating issues.  Just an addition to your budget.  So, what can you expect to budget for this professional service?

Your plan including a professional.

To simplify it, we will put an additional rule of thumb in place. We find that it takes $50 – $75. of service cost per foot for preparing, installing and dismantling a Christmas tree.  If you add any extra accessories such as wreaths, garlands or arrangements, that will also impact the service costs.  This does include all of the designing, technical procedures, materials for installation and packing.  It also includes any delivery, removal or equipment necessary for the project.

For our discussion, we are basing this budgeting on a 7 1/2′ artificial Christmas tree.  That means your professional service for dealing only with the tree is approximately $350. – $450.  Let’s assume you ask your professional to find you the best deals possible.  They secure all of your decorations, including your tree and lighting costs at a bulk rate.

Your end budget for your 7 1/2′ tree, with all of the decorations, completely handled for you by a professional will need a first time investment budget of no less than $1100.  Obviously, if you have a tree, or if you have decorations that make sense to use, you are already ahead of the game.


MBChristmasSceneDocter’s Interior Plantscaping provides quality Christmascaping services.

Many of our customers have used our professional holiday decorating services for years.  We take pride in our design techniques and the quality of the work we provide as we enhance the corporate atmosphere for for the Christmas holiday season year after year.  Once our customers have their stock, we look for ways to make appropriate changes each season to vary their design slightly and yet maintain a budget that keeps tight to a service only charge.

Choosing a professional service is as easy as one simple phone call to us today.  Set up a consultation at 708-333-3323 for your personalized design.

Watch for future blogs detailing individual segments of this discussion.  We will provide examples and more descriptive tips to ease the task for your holiday decorating.  You won’t want to miss out on those great professional hints!




FijiCamera 545Cindy Doorn-Nylen is the President and Owner of Docter's Interior Plantscaping, Inc.  
She has been working in the interior plantscaping industry since 1981.  She purchased 
the company in 1991.  She received her Certification in Plant Management & Design from 
the University of Illinois in 1994 and completed the Master Gardener Certification in 
1996.  She is dedicated to providing clients with horticultural information and services 
that she would expect for herself. 

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