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Interior designer shares how to decorate your Christmas tree and home like a pro


If you’ve ever admired a Christmas tree or festive display in a magazine or shopping mall and wondered how you could recreate the look for yourself at home, then you’re in luck.

That’s because Katalin Callahan, an interior designer and CEO of DBK Decor, has shared her top tips for decorating your home ahead of the festive season.

Katalin, who lives in Baltimore in the US and posts on the account, DesignByKatalin, has amassed more than 104,000 followers who are obsessed with watching her home decor change as the seasons do.

Her house becomes especially magical during December, when Christmas rolls around, as she starts putting up trees and adding sparkle to everywhere from the coffee table to the kitchen windowsills.

Decorating the Christmas tree is Katalin’s favourite part of the holiday season and she knows exactly how to style them so they look like something out of the pages of a glossy catalogue.



Katalin Callahan's incredible Christmas tree in her living room, covered in baubles and lights
Katalin’s favourite part of Christmas is decorating the tree

Speaking to Mirror Online, she explained how she does it: “Creating a beautiful tree is my favourite process of the Holiday season!

“The most important thing is to choose the perfect tree. I love flocked trees. They give such a wonderful feeling. No matter what decorations you choose they will give a lovely pop of colour against a flocked tree.”

She goes on to recommend people opt to buy an unlit tree if they can, as “there is nothing worse than unpacking your pre-lit tree and discovering the lights don’t work”.

Katalin adds: “I love using my own lights so I can decide the style and colour and how many I want to use in my tree.

“Every year they bring more beautiful Christmas light and bulb choices to the market so I like having the ability to choose my own style.”

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What do you need to create the ‘perfect’ Christmas tree?

When decorating Katalin uses a lot of different items – from baubles to ribbons and fake flowers.

Here’s a look at her ‘must-haves’ for creating a show-stopping Christmas tree:

  • Six-inch wide gold or white ribbon (I use about two rolls on my tree)
  • Eight to 10 large (six-inch diameter) mercury glass ornaments
  • 60 – 75 gold or champagne medium-size ornaments (four-inch)
  • 20 small ornaments (this is where I like to add colour or special ornaments)
  • Three different style picks (about six of each)
  • Champagne and gold velvet poinsettia flowers (10-12 pieces)
  • A gold or white Christmas skirt
  • Tree topper: star, angel, or three different picks (one of each style) which you can transform into your own topper.

The quantities on this list are what Katalin uses on her own tree. You may need to adjust them depending on the size of your tree.

How does she do it?

Katalin has broken her Christmas tree decorating process down into eight easy steps you can follow.

Step one – Fluff your tree

Try to do each layer so you don’t miss any part. Separate the branches and pull them apart in multiple directions. With a flocked tree, look at the position of the snow to make sure it’s on the top side of the branches.

After you fluff the first layer start to add your lights and hide them in the middle of the branches. Start the lights inside of the tree and come out, doing two to three circles.

Keep going, next layer, fluff the branches, add the lights!



A side table with a tray full of Christmas decorations on top of it, including Christmas trees and candles
She uses decorative trays and layers ornaments, figurines and candles on top

Step 2 – Add ribbons

If you cut your ribbon 17” long it is much easier to add them on the tree. Add the ribbons randomly in different directions and deep into the tree. It will create a fuller look.

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I always use the wire branches to hold the ribbons (I used one roll of gold and one roll of burgundy)

Step 3 – Flowers

Mix the gold flowers with your chosen colour flowers. Add them in zigzag shapes on the tree.

Always step back to check that they are balanced and the spacing is similar.

Step 4 – Ornaments/Baubles

First, add your large ornaments.

Then the medium size and the speciality ornaments.

Spread the ornaments out evenly all over the tree. Let them ‘snuggle’ into the branches instead of just hanging them from the branch tips.

Step 5 – Picks

When you step back and you see little spaces that are looking a little empty, add your picks there.

Think of them as being like pieces of jewellery on the tree.

Step 6 – Create a topper

You can use a ready-made topper like a star or an angel or create your own!

Personally, I love to create my own by using picks. Just stick the picks in the top of the centre pole of the tree and go all around the top.



A window sill covered in Christmas decorations, including snowflakes
She even decorates in the kitchen

Step 7 – Style the base

Use a tree skirt or collar. Add gift boxes or other decorative items to give your tree a finished look.

Step 8 – Admire your tree

When you are finished you will take so much joy in the knowledge that you have created a tree that will give your family the warm feeling of a happy home and blessed Christmas.

What about the rest of your home?

Katalin also adds a touch of Christmas joy to coffee tables, windowsills and other parts of her home, by mixing and matching festive ornaments and candles with decorative plates and trays.

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On one side table in her home, she arranges three different sized and shaped Mercury Glass Votive candle holders and placed a simple gold poinsettia flower next to them for some extra detail.

The coffee table in her living room also has three candle holders on it, but these are hurricane glass ones. Instead of a flower, she uses a gold star tree topper here to give it a “regal” touch.

As well as this, she also suggests filling bowls with fake hydrangea flowers and then mixing through gold poinsettia ones to create a festive look.

Katalin continues to say that placing items on top of a gold tray can also glam up your decor.

In the kitchen, she uses items from her cupboards “like cake trays, charger plates and serving dishes” to create “a perfect Christmas design”.

She adds: “Any charger plate can be used with bottle-brush trees. I also used a white wood charger plate covered with different snowflakes surrounding a central candle.

“As a centrepiece on my kitchen island, I used a cutout Ginger Jar filled with gold Aspen leaves. I added a blushed pink ribbon to finish the look and add some colour.

“A fruit bowl can be also be used and filled with Christmas baubles.

“And in your window, you can use Christmas stockings holder with bows. You can also use candleholders tied with a bow as an alternative simple design.”

Where does she get her decorative items from?

This is a question Katalin is asked a lot. She claims people often assume her decorations and candles are expensive, but she says they’re actually very budget-friendly.

As she’s in the US, most of her products are from America, but we’re sure you could easily find similar items in the UK if you wished.

“My favourite stores to shop decor and Christmas pieces are Hobby Lobby, Homegoods and Michaels,” she says.

“And I love using Thompson Ferrier candles because they have the best fragrance and I can smell it through my whole house!”

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