When using an artificial Christmas tree shaping guide, even the most threadbare synthetic can be brought back to life. Of course, it helps to start with a well-built tree, as inexpensive versions are often made with unnatural looking branch patterns. Also, be prepared to do the most shaping the first year you purchase the tree. In following years, it will retain some of its modified form, and it will be easier to fix. But even the first time will only take a little effort to do right, as long as you have a clear idea of how to approach the process.
Although a general shaping guide can help produce the look you want, it’s important to keep in mind that in nature, there is no one standard appearance. While most artificial trees are made with upswept branches to promote a fuller appearance, some are made with downswept branches to help fill up floor space. Before working with it, look at photos of it online or on the box to see how it is best presented. Use the photos to guide you as you go about shaping it.
While it’s not necessary, it can help to wear gloves during the process. Gloves block oil and other soil from contaminating the branches, which may cause discoloring in time. Gloves can also help sweep through the branches faster, gliding over them without resistance. If the tree comes pre-lit, plug it in so that you can see how the lights will look as you arrange the branches.
Once you are ready, start from the bottom and work your way up. Fan out the bottom layer of branches to maximize floor coverage, but don’t space everything perfectly. Nature isn’t perfect either, and that is who you’re trying to emulate.
It can help to think how a tree reacts in its natural environment while working your way up through the branches. Branches at the bottom don’t have to compete for sunlight, as they just have to grow out as far as possible. Branches in the middle have to change their strategy, growing vertically out from the branch like a collection of peacock feathers. So, arrange the tips on each branch up and slightly out from the stem, and don’t be afraid to go as vertical as possible. As long as the tips aren’t at a stark 90-degree angle to the branch, they will look natural while filling up the artificial Christmas tree. This shaping guide is also effective near the top, so again, angle the branches near the top upward and slightly out.
Once you’ve reached the top, take a step back and identify any glaring spaces left behind. Fill them as needed by spacing the branches more evenly. If one or two of the branches have been lost during storage, face the gap toward the nearest wall. Of course, if there are multiple branches missing, it may be time to consider replacement. As long as the tree is stored carefully between seasons, it will provide many years of holiday joy to you and your family.