Decorating a Christmas tree with bows – 6 ways to nail this year's most on-trend festive look

Trim your tree and tie your decorations with ribbons and bows for a simple but elegant take on festive styling

christmas tree decorations with blue ribbon bows
(Image credit: Future/Dan Duchars)

Did you know that dressing a Christmas tree with bows was the look of this year's festive season? However, it's not the only way to decorate for the season. 

A simple ribbon bow is the most elegant of Christmas decor ideas – effortlessly allowing you to switch up your festive color theme, add interest to a Christmas tree, a tired-looking garland, and bringing a perky, preppy look to your Christmas wreath ideas

Although a bow isn't the most practical option for your outdoor Christmas decor, as rain, snow and even the winter sun will damage the fabric, ribbons can be used as part of your Christmas porch decor ideas and to decorate a festive front door. You could tie ribbons around the porch columns or the front door handle, and finish with a beautifully tied bow – the bigger the better for impact and curb appeal.

Indoors, use bows on their own or paired with baubles and other decorations to enhance your Christmas styling scheme.

How to use bows in your Christmas decor

The beauty of bows is that you can change the look of your Christmas decor for the cost of a length of ribbon.

'Glass baubles and cut-glass droplets made from pieces of old chandeliers add an elegant sparkle to my tree, and I change the ribbons on them each year to match my theme,' says style influencer, Paula Sutton

'Experiment and be playful – ribbons aren't serious things, although they can look incredibly elegant,' says stylist Sara Bird, who created the decorations here. 'One trick is to experiment with different widths of ribbon, from narrow shoestring style to wide glossy bands. You could also opt for wired ribbon, as it helps the bow to keep its shape. Have fun! This year I'll be tying a bow at the top of my tree as an alternative Christmas tree topper idea.

Sara has chosen a smart blue and white decorating theme for the bow ideas below, which would look lovely in a blue living room. But you can choose any color of ribbon to complement your festive scheme.

1. Put bows on a Christmas wreath

christmas tree decorations with blue ribbon bows

(Image credit: Future/Dan Duchars)

Many of us will want to know how to make a Christmas wreath to add a personal touch to our festive decor. The greenery, fruit, and berries you choose for the basis of your wreath can be enhanced with additional decorative touches.

'Add detail and color to a Christmas wreath with pretty bows. Alternate the widths of your ribbon for interest and tie in some complementary baubles,' suggests stylist Sara Bird.

If you'd prefer just one standout bow, find out how to make a wreath bow to add a flourish to your design.

2. Tie bows on the Christmas tree

christmas tree decorations with blue ribbon bows

(Image credit: Future/Dan Duchars)

Ribbons add texture and color to your Christmas tree ideas, for a toned-down contrast to tinsel. Choose one shade and tie them at the end of the branches, with baubles positioned in the gaps.

'I really love bows for decorating the Christmas tree and have them on all the trees in my home (yes, I have lots!),' says Dani Taylor, Product & Creative Director, Cox & Cox. '

'Pre-tied bows are the easiest way to get the look, as they simply clip on. You can also use them to trim wreaths and garlands, and as an extra trim for presents.'

3. Style your table decor with bows

christmas tree decorations with blue ribbon bows

(Image credit: Future/Dan Duchars)

Looking to elevate your festive dining room ideas? Then bring an elegant touch to Christmas table decor ideas with a swag and gathered detail.

Sara Bird explains how to get the look. 'Cut a length of hessian to the same size as your decorative table runner,' she says. 'Using a narrow length of ribbon or string, loop it around the back of both cloths and draw the ends together, then tie loosely to retain the fabric ruches. Next, hide the ribbon or string with a decorative wide ribbon, tying it off at the front with a luxurious bow.'

4. Make a bow napkin tie

christmas tree decorations with blue ribbon bows

(Image credit: Future/Dan Duchars)

This is such a lovely tip when you want to set the perfect Christmas table for your family and friends. It's one of the easiest ways to add ribbon bows to your holiday tablescaping.

Gather plates together and present them in a layered tier with a ribbon wrapped around them. Dress with a napkin tie made from a twist of rosemary – florists' wire keeps any stray foliage ends in place. Top with a pretty ribbon bow. 

5. Weave bows and ribbons into a garland

christmas tree decorations with blue ribbon bows

(Image credit: Future/Dan Duchars)

Ribbons and bows are a wonderful way to add color and pattern to garland greenery. You could arrange the garland as a Christmas mantel decor idea, arrange it over a door to enhance your Christmas hallway ideas, or weave the garland through banisters as part of your festive stair decor ideas

'Here, I've trailed toile and plain ribbons together through the stems and branches,' explains stylist Sara Bird. 'Decorative bows finish the look.'

6. Hang baubles with ribbons and bows

christmas tree decorations with blue ribbon bows

(Image credit: Future/Dan Duchars)

A ribbon bow can elevate the look of the simplest bauble. 

'Loop a length of ribbon through the bauble top and pull through. This length is to hang the bauble up with,' explains stylist Sara Bird. 

'Tie a separate decorative bow over the loop on top of the bauble and snip the ends to required length. Repeat for a collection of baubles, then gather and hang the group. We added a touch of gold for added festive effect.'

This would make a lovely idea for Christmas window decor – hang the baubles in the window where they can bring holiday cheer to your neighborhood.

What type of ribbons can I use for decorative bows?

Any type of ribbon should be suitable, as long as it fits with your holiday decor scheme, though we recommend a wide ribbon like these from Amazon to create a luxe look. Choose a single size and color of ribbon for a homogenous look, or choose a range of widths and finishes (glossy or matt) to add variety.

'I recommend sticking to only one or two colors, for an elegant scheme,' says stylist Sara Bird.

How do I stop ribbons from fraying?

'This is the trick that stylists and anyone using ribbons frequently uses,' says Sara Bird. 'Cut the ribbon ends at an angle, then hold a candle flame or lighter close to the cut end, for only a second or two. This will seal the ends of the ribbon to stop them fraying, but without burning the fabric.'

Never leave a lit candle unattended, don't put the hot lighter on any flammable surface once you have finished using it.

Andrea Childs

Andrea has been immersed in the world of homes, interiors and lifestyle since her first job in journalism, on Ideal Home. She went from women's magazine Options to Frank. From there it was on to the launch of Red magazine, where she stayed for 10 years and became Assistant Editor. She then shifted into freelancing, and spent 14 years writing for everyone from The Telegraph to The Sunday Times, Livingetc, Stylist and Woman & Home. She was then offered the job as Editor on Country Homes & Interiors, and now combines that role with writing for sister title