How to top off your Christmas tree

Traditions are an enormous part of Christmas celebrations.

Decorating the Christmas tree is a favorite tradition and a celebrated event in most families. Once nestled in its stand, the tree becomes temporary artwork to be embellished by many artists.

Drawing from my own childhood memories, the most exciting part of decorating the tree came at the end, when one privileged family member was chosen to place the final touch, the tree topper, on the Christmas tree. That place of pride on the top of the tree usually went to a star or an angel. But before you dig out your traditional tree topper, consider what the designers know: the crowning glory of their masterpieces rests at the top.

The decorations on the top of tree need not be confined to a single ornament. If you’ve created a themed tree, then make a statement on the tree’s top. Not only is the top traditionally symbolic, but your eye is drawn to the top of the tree. Themed trees, which have become popular in recent years, can enhance your entire holiday decorating scheme.

If you find yourself stumped for creative tree topper or tree theme ideas, gather your family and friends and tour the Vancouver Festival of Trees at the Vancouver Hilton on Thanksgiving Weekend. You’ll be inspired by more than 40 professionally decorated trees and more than 20 wreaths and garlands. Some of the delightfully decorated theme trees this year include Penguins on Ice, Jungle Safari, Christmas in the Cabin, The Games People Play, Christmas with the Red Hat Ladies and Merry Chris-Moose.

Your Christmas tree reflects your personality. When you pick a theme for your tree and your home’s holiday decorations, choose something your family enjoys or collects. A theme can be anything: color, decorating style or a shape. Grouping thematically related or contrasting items makes a striking way to finish off the tree.

Tree toppers and themed trees, like every design project, gains focus and consistency by following solid design principles.

1. Formal or informal? Deciding on the degree of your formality can give your decorating both focus and harmony. In last year’s Festival of Trees, several trees displayed this formality in nature themes. An elegant birdhouse is one take on an outdoor theme, and a Nordic Santa perched atop the tree provides a bit more whimsical take on the nature theme.

2. Color harmony. Design your tree around one or two colors to make it easier to create a theme. Select colors based on colors in your home or things found in nature. In last year’s seaside theme, the colors light blue and green were repeated throughout the tree, which was crowned by an enormous starfish-like topper made of feathers.

3. Proportion. Be sure to vary the sizes of your design elements such as bows and ornaments. Often the tree topper contains an over-scaled element of the theme, usually placed in the boughs just below the top, with additional bows, feathers and more rounding off the design. In last year’s musical themed tree, a violin topped off the tree.

4. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Repetition adds consistency throughout your tree. Using bows, many draping the tree from top to bottom, is a common tree topper used by designers. This allows the color to filter through the tree in a consistent rhythm, and can be repeated throughout your theme. To make a statement, be sure that you have enough of the repeated elements such as colored balls or ribbon on hand.

5. Add texture. Aim for a mix in texture, such as using gloss and matte-finished ornaments, sparkling crystal snowflakes, craggy pinecones or glittery floral picks.

This holiday add life to your tree by garnishing it around a theme, and topping off your masterpiece with vivid elements. Remember that this season is a time for magic, so let your creativity flow, and add a touch of uniqueness for your visitors and family to enjoy.