Inside: Ten easy tricks to make a Christmas tree look fuller and ways to give a small tree more volume and presence with Christmas tree filler ideas, ornament size tips, and more! ➡
Even as a kid, it was obvious that the sad sack stick of a tree in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” could not become the perfect full triangle of green without some cartoon magic.
Whether you have an artificial tree or a real tree, they both have their challenges. Real Christmas trees always have bare spots, unsightly gaps, and awkward holes.
And if you have a cheap fake tree, you try to do your best to zhush up scrawny, skimpy branches like the Peanuts gang. Plus, all the limbs get smashed flat every year when you store it in a box or bag.
But thanks to a few tricks, you can make a sparse, skinny tree look more full and fluffy!
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1. Fluff it out.
How do you make a sparse tree look fuller? The starting point should always be fluffing. The time spent on fluffing, separating, and shaping faux tree branches is worth it!
- Slightly tug on each artificial branch to bring it downward – it will look more like a live tree.
- Fluff each branch starting at the trunk and fully fan out the branches all the way from the inside out to the tip. One left, one right, one up. Then one left, one right, one down.
- At the tips, fill in bare spots by fanning the branch out like a hand.
- Make sure to fluff the back – it will give the front a fuller look too.
2. Lots of lights.
Christmas tree lights instantly give every inch of the tree presence so make sure to use plenty of them. The guideline is 100 lights per linear foot of tree. When stringing your own, putting lights on the inside of the tree as well as the outside adds depth and volume. If your pre-lit tree is underlit, boosting the light count is easy by adding a strand or two before you decorate.
3. Add more tree.
Another trick to help a scrawny tree is to supplement its branches with extra greenery picks or branches (like its own fabulous Beyonce hair extensions😉). For an artificial tree, they don’t have to match – using different kinds of greens with different textures will make the tree more interesting! You can also fill a hole on a real tree with real branches. The tree lot should always have some extras from when they cut the bottoms.
4. Wrap it in garland.
There are two ways that garland can help fill up a tree:
- Wind an evergreen garland throughout to supplement lacking greenery so that it looks like part of the actual tree. Again it doesn’t have to be the same greens – different textures and a slightly lighter color may actually show up better, making the tree look even more full.
- The other way is to drape a decorative garland around the tree. There’s a garland option for every style – beads, berries, ornaments, snowflakes, and tinsel, just to name a few.
5. Christmas tree ribbon.
My favorite easy way to make the tree full is to use ribbon. Not only does it fill in the tree, it adds movement, and makes it super simple to change the whole color scheme.
For maximum filler potential use wide ribbon, or use two narrower ribbons right next to each other. The width and texture of metallic mesh and burlap also really “fill” the bill to add volume.
Another great use of ribbon to fill holes in the tree is to make a big bow to cover it. Make at least three and spread them out over the tree. Using only one may look like camoflauge but multiple bows look intentional and make a statement.
See the easy way to add ribbon to a Christmas tree here.
6. Fill it with fillers.
Fillers give the tree depth, dimension, and interest. If you’ve ever studied the professionally decorated trees at the store, they’re always chock full of everything from rustic sticks to elegant floral sprays to stuffed Grinches.
So fill ‘er up with at least three filler pick types. A few ideas:
- Berry picks
- Pine picks
- Floral picks
- Glittery sticks
- Feather picks
- Mixed greens
7. Choose the right kind of ornaments.
The ornaments you use can make a huge difference. To increase the oomph of the tree make sure to:
- Use lots of light colored, silver, or white ornaments that contrast with the tree. Dark color ornaments tend to recede and disappear.
- Include metallic, reflective ornaments. Gold and silver ornaments reflecting the Christmas tree lights is not only beautiful, they add lots of visual volume.
- Add a few oversize statement ornaments to the tree. Not only will it add fullness and fill holes, it gives the tree that designer look. You can also cluster ball ornaments together with floral wire to fill in gaps.
- Create interest by varying different sizes of the base ornaments, concentrating larger ornaments toward the bottom and the smallest at the top.
8. Flock the tree.
A flocked tree naturally looks fuller because light colors stand out more than dark. Plus the flocking itself adds a little fullness as well. The flocking on my slim Christmas tree really helps it feel like a full size tree where I don’t have room for one.
If you don’t have a flocked tree, lightly flocking the branches with some flocking spray can add some highlights to a dark tree. Or you can tuck a little faux snow on a few branches using polyfil.
9. Make it taller and fuller.
Make the tree taller and give it a more commanding presence with these tips:
- Load the top with tall floral picks. You can add another foot or so to the tree this way!
- Fill the top in well with ornaments, picks, and ribbon. It’s an easy way to make the whole tree feel wider.
- Draw attention to the top with a traditional star or any tree topper that fits your tree’s theme (just don’t go too small).
- Give the tree more height by adding a base underneath, or putting it in a pot that adds height.
10. Give it a boost from the bottom up.
Make the bottom as full as possible and cover a skinny trunk with:
- A generous sized tree skirt in a color that stands out
- A tree collar
- Christmas presents wrapped in light or bright colored paper that coordinate with the tree decor
Although they may not make the impossible transformation like the Charlie Brown tree, using these tricks may make you remember this quote:
“I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It’s not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.” – Linus
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Laura Ingalls Gunn says
So many great tips Kate. I love that you also do a Mardi Gras tree!
I’m glad you liked it Laura – it’s so fun to have around in January and February!
These are great ideas! I have a slim 6’ish tree in my dining room that fits perfectly next to my hutch without rearranging furniture, but I can definitely use some help to look as full as possible for the space. I need to find something to elevate it a few inches. I used some of these ideas you shared years ago when I got rid of a large tree and used a 4’ one we already had by setting it on a round side table covered with a red table cloth and made a topper with various picks and stems. I actually used a toilet paper tube covered with gold duct tape and pretty ribbon to slide onto the top branch and then tucked the stems and picks inside it and it worked great! Thanks for sharing!
I’m so glad you found it helpful Vicki! Merry Christmas!!