This post was most recently updated on November 11th, 2021
IN THIS ARTICLE: You’ll find my very popular How to Put Ribbon on a Christmas Tree Tutorial, updated and tweaked for 2020. You’ll learn how to get that beautiful, cascading ribbon effect that makes your Christmas tree look professionally decorated! Follow this easy, step-by-step tutorial to achieve loose, natural, waterfall ribbon Christmas tree! This tutorial has been used by many readers over the past 8 years, and the feedback has been awesome!
How to put ribbon on a Christmas tree is a question that I get asked a lot before every holiday season, and 2020 is no different. It’s why I first created this ribbon tutorial years ago. Decorating a Christmas tree with ribbon is actually not as tricky as you might think. Follow this beginner-level, step by step to tutorial to create gorgeous, cascading ribbon on your Christmas tree!
Truly beautiful. I have only decorated a tree a couple of times over the years and it looked like Charlie Brown’s. Found your web site on Pinterest and thank you so much! Now have a fit for a magazine tree! – from Laura
Your ribbon tip made our tree simply beautiful. I’ve gotten lots of compliments. Thank you. – from Rhonda
What’s the Goal? Full, Natural, Cascading Ribbon!
There are lots of different tutorials out there on how to put ribbon on a Christmas tree. The one you should use really depends on the look you are trying to achieve. This method is how I usually put ribbon on my own Christmas tree. It’s also a great method for beginners.
But, before getting into the ribbon tutorial, let’s start with our goal. In other words, what end result are we shooting for when we put ribbon on a Christmas tree? Well, it goes without saying that we want it to look beautiful and professional, right?!? But, more specifically:
THIS CHRISTMAS TREE RIBBON TUTORIAL AIMS FOR TREE WITH RIBBON THAT LOOKS LOOSE & NATURAL, WITH GORGEOUS A CASCADING RIBBON, WATERFALL EFFECT.
First: Fullness & Volume
First, this Christmas tree ribbon tutorial will help your Christmas tree look FULL. You can see from the these Christmas trees I’ve decorated over the past few years that I’m not a minimalist when it comes to decorating trees! I love a tree that is is chockablock full of ribbon gorgeousness! When placed properly on a tree, ribbon creates volume, and fills in any areas of the tree that are sparse or uneven.
Second: Loose, Natural Ribbon
Second, this Christmas ribbon tutorial allows your tree ribbon to look NATURAL. Often, ribbon on a Christmas tree is wrapped MUCH too tightly. Or, it looks too uniform and robotic, leaving the tree looking like a strangled mummy, lol. This is not what we want! Instead, the ribbon should blend into your tree effortlessly, so that the ornaments can be the stars. Ribbon shouldn’t be distracting or the focal point.
Third: Cascading Ribbon (Waterfall)
Third, your Christmas tree ribbon should appear cascading, or as it’s sometimes called, a waterfall effect. You can see in these photos of Christmas trees I’ve decorated with ribbon how it’s woven loosely through the branches in a downward effect. This creates a natural, unstructured look where the ribbon falls gently at the base of the tree. This cascading ribbon, waterfall technique is the method I’ll show you in this tutorial.
Easy, Step by Step Tutorial: How to Put Ribbon on a Christmas Tree
OK, so now that you know what we are aiming for, let’s dig into the tutorial! If you’ve been wondering how to put ribbon on a Christmas tree to achieve this full, natural look, don’t stress! You don’t have to be a professional decorator, I promise. I’ve got you covered with this simple tutorial on how to decorate a Christmas tree with ribbon in just a few easy steps!
I wanted to do something different this year and stumbled on to your page. Lucky me! Best tree ever!” – from Marita
Step 1: Buy your ribbon supplies.
My method for how to put ribbon on a Christmas tree uses an assortment of wired ribbon. I like to create visual interest by using several different coordinating rolls of wired ribbon in different patterns or textures. This gives the illusion that you used a lot more ribbon than you did (um, yay!), so it’s great for big or sparse trees.
I recommend you buy three (3) different (but coordinating !) ribbons that look great together. It’s OK if your 3 ribbons are all different widths. This actually creates more visual interest. Your ribbon should be wired, and it should range from 2.5″-4″ in width. To illustrate, if you are going for a traditional looking Christmas tree, you might decide to purchase the following 3 ribbons: a red plaid ribbon, a plain red ribbon, and a gold ribbon for a bit of sparkle. Whatever the look is that you want, choose 3 ribbons that suit your taste and look good together. You’ll need to buy these 3 different ribbons in multiple rolls of each.
One of the most asked questions in this part of the tutorial is how much ribbon do you need for your Christmas tree or how many rolls of ribbon should I purchase? You can find out exactly how much ribbon you will need for your tree, and get answers to all your burning questions about buying the right Christmas ribbon, in my article, “How Much Ribbon for a Christmas Tree? (Plus, All Things Ribbon). In the article, I cover:
- How much ribbon to buy for your Christmas tree
- Where to buy ribbon for your Christmas tree (the best sources)
- What type of ribbon you should buy
- How wide your ribbon should be
- How to choose coordinating ribbon patterns
Step 2: Fluff up your empty Christmas tree (lights only).
OK, now that you have your ribbon, you are ready to begin. Start by fluffing up your empty tree (lights only). If your tree is real or it’s not already pre-lit, put lights on it first. A fluffed up, lit tree is the foundation for any beautifully decorated Christmas tree. I always put ribbon on a lit Christmas tree before adding anything else. It makes it so much easier than having to work around ornaments. Plus, it allows you to get the ribbon deep into the tree, which is what creates the fullness you’re looking for. (Also see my method for the best order to decorate your tree.)
Step 3: Cut your ribbon.
My tutorial requires cutting your ribbon before you start putting it on the tree. This makes it MUCH easier to work with. (Note: BUT if you feel you might have purchased too much ribbon for your Christmas tree, don’t cut it all until you need to. That way, you can return it!) Cut ribbon strips about 4-6ft in length from each of your ribbon types. The precise ribbon length is not critical. A shorter length is a bit easier to work with for any ribbon rookies. A longer length will just give a more flowing effect. But, there’s no right or wrong here.
Here’s an important tip: Before cutting your ribbon, the it fall off the roll naturally, and then snip it. This will give a round, flowing shape to the ribbon that will help when you put your ribbon on the Christmas tree.
Step 4: Create ribbon ‘bundles’.
Once you have cut your strips from each of your coordinating ribbon rolls, you are going to create ribbon ‘bundles ‘to add to your Christmas tree. Each bundle will consist of three (3) strips of ribbon, one of each ribbon type. To create a bundle, lay two of the strips on top of each other lengthwise, and pinch them in the middle. Next, tie the third strip around the other two in the middle with a knot. Your bundle should have a loose knot in the middle, with 3 strips of ribbon hanging down on each side. Now, repeat! Keep creating bundles until you’ve used up all your cut ribbon strips.
Step 5: Take a quick break! You earned it.
Woot, you’ve worked hard and earned a break! Grab a coffee, tea or glass of wine and come on back in a few minutes. When you’re settled, click below, to take you to the rest of the tutorial! The magic is about to begin!
Looking for more Christmas tree decorating ideas?
Here are some of my all time favourite past Christmas tree decorating posts. Three of these Christmas trees were recently featured in Women’s Day’s round up of “30+ Christmas Trees that are Straight Up Magical“!
Oh, and don’t forget to read: