Christmas tree ribbon ideas – 9 decorative looks

Bring vintage charm and elegance to your seasonal decorating with these Christmas tree ribbon ideas

Christmas tree ribbon ideas
(Image credit: Rowen & Wren / Brent Darby / Future)

Christmas tree ribbon ideas are making a comeback. For some time decorating with bows fell out of favor, conjuring images of glitzy overdressed trees, but in recent years ribbons and bows have been shaking off their frumpy associations and are being used in tasteful, relaxed ways to tap into a nostalgic aesthetic.

Using ribbons to decorate Christmas trees is nothing new, and has been done since the Victorian era. As many of us yearn for simpler times and dream of Christmases past, some are turning to vintage decorations and reviving old traditions. Plus, in a time when all our thoughts are turning to the environment, decorating with fabric ribbons can make an eco-friendly alternative to investing in new decorations.

To help get you inspired we've rounded up a host of Christmas tree ideas decorated with ribbons, including pre-made bow decorations and pretty ideas for tying ribbons

Christmas tree ribbon ideas

Christmas tree ribbon ideas are a fabulous way to bring color and elegance to a Christmas tree. As well as being a great way to channel a vintage Christmas tree theme, decorating a Christmas tree with bows is a look easy to achieve by simply tying lengths of ribbon on the ends of individual branches. Alternatively, you can buy pre-made bow decorations that can be hung on the tree or attached with wires and clips – these can also be used for Christmas wreath ideas or Christmas gift-wrapping ideas.

'Beautifully tied bows for the tree are a must. Not only are they a fantastic space filler if you don’t want to go overboard with baubles, they also add a professional touch when you buy them pre-tied into the already perfect bow,' says Dani Taylor, product and creative director at Cox & Cox (opens in new tab)

1. Create a vintage look with velvet ribbons

Velvet bows on a natural Christmas tree

(Image credit: Rowen & Wren)

For an elegant vintage look try velvet ribbons in rich, dusky colors, such as these from Rowen & Wren (opens in new tab) – keep the ribbons long for a relaxed, bohemian look.

The great thing about decorating a tree with ribbons is that, unlike regular decorations which have to be individually wrapped and stored away, ribbon can simply be rolled up and stored in a shallow box. 

2. Use a ribbon as a tree topper

Christmas tree topper trend

(Image credit: Future / Tom Leighton)

A wide, colorful ribbon can make a simple and elegant alternative to traditional tree topper ideas. Stars and angels can often have a tendency to fall off, but ribbons will stay safely in place – great if there are children or animals running around. For best results try a wide, wired ribbon that will keep its shape. 

Wired Christmas ribbon, like this from Amazon (opens in new tab), holds its shape best.

3. Go for traditional white and gold

Real Christmas tree with white and gold ribbons

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

For a classic and elegant look you can't go wrong with a palette of white and gold. Here bows made from organza ribbon make a fitting choice of tree decoration for this traditional living room.

4. Get creative

Handmade Christmas tree bows with diamanté buckles AnnabelLewis-019

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

If you like to get stuck into a spot of mindful Christmas crafting why not get creative with some handmade ribbon decorations? Annabel Lewis, founder of the British ribbon store VV Rouleaux (opens in new tab) has given her tree a touch of glamor with handmade bow decorations made from wide organza ribbon and diamanté buckles. 

‘People want to be different – people are making individual things themselves now and they want something unique, not just off the shelf. V V Rouleaux is an ingredients company,’ she says, ‘for everyone doing anything, for display, decoration, interiors, fashion and theatre.’

5. Create a relaxed look with linen

Christmas tree with linen bows

(Image credit: deVOL)

To decorate their showroom tree the team at deVOL chose dusky pink linen ribbons to create a rustic, vintage look. If you're after an earthy, natural color scheme as well as ribbons that are sustainable then consider 'raw-edged Habotai silk, dyed with natural plant material,' suggests Thomas Broom-Hughes, Director of Horticulture at Petersham Nurseries. (opens in new tab) 

Florist Claire Bowen of Honeysuckle & Hilda (opens in new tab) is also passionate about sustainability. 'I use ribbons that are naturally dyed – both silk and velvet, which supports small businesses and means I know exactly how they were produced. Also, they are incredibly beautiful,' she says.

6. Go for candy-stripe bows

christmas tree with candy stripe bows

(Image credit: Future)

Candy stripes are a great way to channel a vintage look but would equally work with a Scandinavian decor theme. These pretty bow decorations from Tori Murphy (opens in new tab) are perfect for channeling the look. 

7. Opt for simple ribbons in a busy room

Living room with de Gournay wallpaper and a Christmas tree decorated with ribbons

(Image credit: Simon Bevan)

In living rooms with bold wallpaper ideas, it can be tricky to know how to decorate a Christmas tree – too many decorations and the whole space may become too busy. In her stunning living room, Hannah de Gournay, founder of hand-painted wallpaper brand de Gournay (opens in new tab), chose simple pastel ribbons for her tree so as not to detract from the stunning wall murals.

8. Go pretty and pared-back

gold organza ribbons

(Image credit: Cox & Cox)

Made from gold organza ribbon, these elegant bows from Cox & Cox are a lovely way to bring a subtle shimmer to a Christmas tree. You could also use them as wreath ribbon ideas.

9. Go for subtle slender ribbons

Thin velvet ribbons in forest green and gold on a Christmas tree

(Image credit: Neptune)

Velvet ribbons in ochre and forest green from Neptune (opens in new tab) bring subtle color and texture to this sophisticated look.  'Because of the pile the fabric velvet never registers as one flat color, instead, it allows shadow and light to play across the textural surface,' says Simon Temprell, interior design manager at Neptune.

If you're not a fan of bows, simply draping the ribbons can look wonderfully elegant.

How do you put a ribbon in a Christmas tree?

There are different ways to attach ribbons to a Christmas tree. For a relaxed look simply tie lengths of ribbon in bows around branches. Or, for a more formal look use wired ribbon and tie the bows in advance, then attach them using floristry wire threaded through the middle. Alternatively, there are pre-made bows you can buy with clips or wires already attached.

'With wire on the back, these so easy to attach – just place them on the tree and twist the wire around the tip of the branch. It’s a great way of letting the kids have a go too. Alternatively, they make the perfect finishing touch for professional-looking gift-wrapping,' says Dani Taylor, product and creative director at Cox & Cox.

Pippa is Content Editor on Homes & Gardens online contributing to Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors print issues. A graduate of Art History and formerly Style Editor at Period Living, she is passionate about architecture, creating decorating content, interior styling and writing about craft and historic homes. She enjoys searching out beautiful images and the latest trends to share with the Homes & Gardens audience. A keen gardener, when she’s not writing you’ll find her growing flowers on her village allotment for styling projects.