A Holiday Change, From the Top to the Bottom

beautiful gift with Christmas ornaments. 3d rendering
Where to Buy Holiday Decor: Brock Farms, Freehold NJ –  40,000sq ft Christmas Wonderland.

Changing out ornaments every year isn’t practical, especially with all of the memories attached. If you’re looking to make a tree change, opt for an alternate topper and skirt for a whole new look.

by Alice Oglethorpe

For many people, Christmas tree decorations don’t change much over the years. Ornaments that have been lovingly collected and passed down from generation to generation get hung on the tree, and that’s that.

So instead of messing with tradition, try thinking tops and bottoms to spruce up the tree this year.

A Holiday Change, From the Top to the Bottom

“Think of your tree as a little black dress that you can accessorize differently to take it from formal to casual in an instant,” says Cathy Hobbs, New York-based home stager, interior designer and finalist on season six of HGTV’s “Design Star” competition show. “You can give your tree a totally different vibe without touching the ornaments by focusing on the skirt and topper.”

Not only is this type of updating easy, it’s also inexpensive. “You can spend hundreds of dollars on all new ornaments and garland, but just changing the topper and skirt is much cheaper and is still impactful,” says Gina Luker, editor of the remodeling blog Shabby Creek Cottage.

Every décor store will have fun options to play around with, but you can also go the DIY route. Here, Hobbs and Luker offer some ideas for finding the perfect topper-and-skirt combo, depending on the desired aesthetic.

Changing the tree skirt is an affordable and impactful way to update your tree.


Get a rustic feel that’s both natural and festive by gathering together pieces of wheat, hay or straw, wiring them together in the middle and tying a bright red ribbon around the wire, Hobbs says. Use that as a topper instead of a standard angel or star. Attach it to the tree with more wire.

Then, for a coordinating skirt, tuck a big piece of burlap around the base of the tree. For this look, Hobbs notes that decorators should use colorful ornaments so the tree doesn’t appear too neutral.


Hobbs suggests a quick trick to create a modern topper: Wrap many white lights around the top of your tree – way more than you have on the rest of it. Once turned on, they will appear like a brightly lit star.

Swap out a traditional fabric skirt for a cool looking planter, bucket or box that’s been spray painted in a bold color, Luker suggests. This works particularly well if you have a live tree instead of one that’s been cut down.


For a formal look, Luker recommends tying an oversized ribbon into a big bow at the top, using wire to keep it securely in place. Don’t cut the ribbon too short; let the ends reach all the way down to the bottom of your tree for a stronger visual impact.

Balance that with tulle or metallic mesh as a skirt, says Hobbs. Those fabrics will stay nice and full, giving your tree drama and elegance.

Vintage, antique glass Christmas Tree toppers.


This also is an opportunity to get personal with your décor and show off items that have special meaning to you.

Hobbs suggests using a large picture frame that’s not too heavy and putting a favorite quote, line from a carol or picture of your family in it. Place your tree in a corner of the room and wire the frame to the top of it. (This works best on an artificial tree, since its top will be nice and sturdy.)

Then pull out a favorite antique quilt, blanket, table cloth or other heirloom fabric that has significance to you, she says. Drape it around your tree as a skirt: It’s better than keeping the cloth hidden in a linen closet. And if you’re worried about it getting ruined, protect the fabric by first covering the base of the tree with a few plastic bags.