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How to set up your artificial tree

Take some extra time to fluff your tree and check for burned-out lights while you set it up.

INDIANAPOLIS — As you stash the Thanksgiving décor and get the Christmas totes down from the attic, your biggest indoor chore might be unboxing and setting up your artificial Christmas tree.

Pat Sullivan from Sullivan Hardware and Garden has this process down to a science. 

Out of the box, "they never look like they do when they're in the store," Sullivan said. "That's because you don't take the time to shape them."

Sullivan's system for setting up an artificial tree should not only save you time and aggravation, it will leave your tree looking its best for the month(s) it spends on display in your home.

A common mistake people make setting up the full tree right out of its box is to forego the task of bending, twisting and stretching to fluff and adjust branches off the floor or from a ladder.

Instead, Sullivan recommends working with one section at a time on a table top rather than starting the adjustment process when the tree is fully assembled, requiring a ladder to reach the upper sections.

Starting with the bottom section, go to the center of the tree near the trunk and "fluff" the filler branches first by bending the left and right wires and pushing top branches up. "You go left, right, middle, left, right, middle," said Sullivan.

Then work your way out the tip of the branch. Don't forget to spread the "wings" of each branch to help fill in empty spaces.

Once the bottom section is done, you can set it on the floor and get out the next section and follow the same pattern.


If your tree is pre-lit, you can combine the fluffing process with also checking for dead light bulbs. Standard lights can burn out over the years and do damage to the whole strand. Most trees come with several spare bulbs that you can use to replace those that burn out in a strand.

For real trees or artificial trees that are not pre-lit, lighting options include traditional incandescent lights or the newer LED variety. "But remember," said Sullivan, "LEDs come in a couple tones." There is a "pure white' light that casts a silvery-blue light, like a mercury vapor street light. More people tend to prefer more golden "warm white" lights inside their homes, according to Sullivan. 

Watch the video player to see Sullivan's 13Sunrise demonstration.

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