BUYING THE TREE
While contradictory to traditional thinking, it’s crucial to get a tree that’s not too full. “Ornaments should hang on the tree as opposed to lean on the tree,” Billy says. Make sure the branches are sturdy so they don’t bow under the ornaments’ weight.
Billy’s advice? “Buy a tree that’s pre-lit,” he laughs. In the event that a strand goes out or you prefer a real tree, he says to wrap lights around each individual branch, starting from the center and working outward to the tip and back in before moving on to the next branch.
Billy recommends this three-layer approach:
1. On the innermost part of the branches, hang three to four different styles of colored balls—at least a dozen of each to lend some uniformity.
2. Closer to the edges, hang one-of-a-kind ornaments you want to showcase.
3. Finish the tips of the branches off with the same small ornaments or icicles.
Billy forgoes hooks and secures ornaments using five-inch segments of green floral wire. “The ornaments hang directly beneath the branch,” he says. “And the floral wire just disappears in the greenery.”
Dare to be different! Accessorize with unique items that showcase your personality or interests. Billy has used garden hoses and copper tubing in lieu of garland, for instance. He prefers not to use a topper, instead securing large, stand-out items a foot from the top to one side. Skip the skirt, too, and instead place your tree in a streamlined stand that can sit in a decorative container. “I’ve used vintage trunks, an old bass drum, you name it,” he says.
Don’t waste money on ornament-storage boxes. Billy learned his simple, foolproof system from a client: Seal each ornament in a Ziplock bag and pile into a clear plastic bin. Skeptical? Billy was, too. “But they don’t break!” he insists.
WHERE TO SHOP
•Holiday Warehouse – This Plano store stocks Parkhill, Billy’s go-to line of artificial trees, and ornaments galore.
•Mary Cates & Co. – This shop carries Jim Marvin’s Bubble Gum ornaments, Billy’s favorite line of colored balls.
•Jacksons Home and Garden and Nicholson-Hardie– Great resources for stands and containers.