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  • O Christmas Tree: 12 decorating tips from Festival of Trees

    If you weren't lucky enough to take home a tree from the 27th annual Festival of Trees last week, follow these 12 tips from the designers to get a similar look for your Christmas tree in your own home. 

    Over the past 27 years, the Festival of Trees has raised more than $21 million to support young patients at MultiCare Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital & Health Center in Tacoma, Wash.

    These decorating tips are free. (But you can always find a way to support the kids at Mary Bridge.)

    Here’s how to decorate your tree like a pro:

    Let there be lights: “Use icicle lights. As you wrap them around the tree, pull each of the tendrils out onto the tips of the branches. It’s nice and easy and fast.” – Laura George, an 18-year Festival of Trees designer who, with Lauren Miller, decorated the Wizard of Oz-themed tree “There’s No Place Like Home ... for the Holidays,” sponsored by Douglas Knight, DDS, MSD, Brad McPhee, DDS, and Sean McPhee, DDS.

    Fill ’er up: “The more you put in, the better. Just stuff it. It hides all those light cords. Also, tie the light cords to the branches with pipe cleaners.” – Terese High, designer of the tree “A Classic Christmas,” sponsored by Potelco and the Mary Bridge Brigade. High has been designing at Festival of Trees for 18 years.

    Like: The Festival of Trees on Facebook.

    Mix it up: “It’s important to use different materials and different shapes for texture: Matte and shiny, big and small, round and square.” -- Charlene Richardson, a 16-year designer at Festival of Trees, who designed the James Bond-themed tree “Have a Shaken Not Stirred Christmas,” sponsored by Northrup Grumman. 

    Think outside the box: “Use unexpected things as ornaments. Search antique and vintage stores.” – Sarah Bryant Wilcoxen, an eight-year designer who used white ostrich feathers and dark brown flowers in her tree “Great Gatsby Glam,” sponsored by Vose Technical Systems Inc. Sarah also searched Google for old photos of Christmas trees from the 1920s, to get an idea of what the style was like back then.

    Go big: “Put big ornaments on first, and hang them only once – do it right the first time. When you start to take ornaments off, that’s a sad thing. Put the big ones in the holes. Or if one side is flat, put it on that side to make it thicker.” – Laurie Maus, who, along with her mother Liz MacGowan, represented the Dotha McCormick Orthopedic Guild and designed “Twinkling Stars & Snowflakes Delight” sponsored by 3M and the 4-foot tree “Fa-La-La-La Fabulous” sponsored by HDR. Watch a time-lapse video of their tree being decorated.

    Find inspiration: “I got the book ‘Christmas Traditions of the White House’ at Costco, and I try to do what they do. Take a look at how they fill their trees.” – Sheldon Arkin, MultiCare’s legendary horticulturist and landscape designer, who has designed more than 40 trees over the years at Festival of Trees. This year Sheldon served as a design consultant and "Master Designer, Emeritus" on the dinosaur-filled tree, "Prehistoric Paradise," sponsored by Abbot Construction.

    Like: Mary Bridge Children's Hospital on Facebook.

    Keep yourself tidy: “Don’t wear fleece if you have a flocked tree.” – Michal Tallman, designer of the tree “Experience the Pacific Northwest,” sponsored by Walgreen Infusion Services. Michal has participated in Festival of Trees since the beginning, and is an on-call House Supervisor at Mary Bridge.

    Don’t break the glass: “If you have really expensive glass ornaments, glue the metal cap to the top so it won’t fall off and break.” – Becky Martinson, who has participated in Festival of Trees since the beginning and has worked at Mary Bridge for 40 years, currently in the WIC Office. She helped decorate the "Experience the Pacific Northwest" tree.

    Top it off: “Always make sure the tree top is lit. You go to all the work to decorate tree, don’t forget the top. Use a topper that’s pre-lit or light it up yourself. When the lights go off, it’s very noticeable.” – Tammy Hall, a 14-year Festival of Trees veteran who designed two trees: “Cast Your Cares Away,” sponsored by the Mary Bridge Children's Foundation Board and Hermanson Construction, and the tree “Start Your Engines,” sponsored by George & Dion Russell/Morton McGoldrick, P.S., and Dobler Management.

    Go deep: “Don’t be afraid to put ornaments deep near the trunk. A lot of people put them only on the outside edges.” – Tammy Hall.

    Have fun: “Go with a theme and stick with it. Do what you love.” – Kathy Strom, an eight-year Festival designer who decorated the sea-themed tree “Take a Ride on the Wild Side,” which included a pair of Sea-Doos, sponsored by Associated Petroleum Products.

    Timing is everything. “Start buying ornaments and lights the day after Christmas, and get everything on sale for next year.” – Lori Brank, a first-year designer who did the tree “Hidden Treasures of the Sea,” sponsored by Branks BBQ, in honor of her 7-year-old granddaughter Maci, who received cancer treatments at Mary Bridge. Read their story.


    The News Tribune: “Patients, families decorate trees to benefit Mary Bridge”
    The News Tribune video: “Let there be lights: Decorating for 27th annual Festival of Trees”
    Kathleen Merryman in the Tacoma Weekly: “Festival of Trees brings fun – and millions – for Mary Bridge”


    Video: “2013 Festival of Trees time-lapse decorating”

    Posted on Dec 9, 2013 in