Artificial Christmas trees are one of modern man’s greatest achievements. Stored in a box somewhere for most of the year, they emerge as green and fresh as ever (with a little cleaning) without sticky sap, unwelcome pests, or the need for regular watering. But an artificial tree can often look a little, well, fake. If you want your totally not-real tree to give the illusion that you walked out on a snowy night and chopped it down (or bought it in the parking lot of your local church), you’ll need to follow a few steps.
Fluff your fake tree
The most impactful thing you can do with your fake tree is to fluff those branches. After spending nearly a year crushed into a box stored in your basement or attic, it’s going to look pretty flat and mangled. Spend some time shaping the wire branches, either by bending them gently upward (to mimic a real tree seeking the sun) or by following the “two out, one up” method that alternates between branches to eliminate gaps. It’s best to work in sections from the bottom up, and go for a subtle, gentle look—no 90-degree angles.
Fill in the gaps
If, after a good fluffing, your tree still looks sparse and Charlie Brown-ish, fill in the gaps to hide the metal core. You can use a variety of materials to give it a more realistic fullness:
- Pine garland. Look for a garland that matches your artificial tree’s needle style. It doesn’t have to be a perfect match, because you’ll be stuffing it into the empty spaces on your tree.
- Matte green tinsel. Any tinsel that matches your tree’s look will work, especially if it’s a flat, matte-like finish that looks more realistic than the plasticky, shiny kind.
- Real branches and/or pine cones. If you have access to some real scraps of real trees (folks selling Christmas trees will sometimes give their scraps away if you ask nicely), stuffing them strategically into your fake tree can really transform its look.
Hide the tree stand
One simple way to make your fake tree look more real is to sell the illusion by making it look “planted.” Instead of an industrial metal tree stand, place your tree in a planter or basket, fill it with something light and bulky like bubble wrap or blankets, and then top it with some branches, pine cones, and other plant-like debris to create the illusion of soil. If that’s a bit too much trouble, hiding the stand inside a planter or large bucket will still give the general vibe.
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