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Trees With A Twist

Holiday wreaths and Christmas trees are usually green, but this year, consider breaking from tradition and adding some unexpected pizzazz to your holiday decorating. Celebrity event planner and The Early Show contributor Colin Cowie has some ideas.

Cowie demonstrates three color schemes: white and silver, as well as all red. and, finally, purple with lime green. Each gets its character from the wreath that's used in the mix, evoking sensibilities from romantic to traditional to modern.

Cowie says that Christmas is his favorite time of year.

  • Red Tree: Traditional but with a twist. "We went all out with the red, and it's sexy," says Cowie. The tree features only red lights, red ornaments (round ornaments and swirly ornaments), red berry branches and red beads. Add fresh flowers when you decorate your tree to give it something extra, especially for holiday company. Put the fresh blooms into water tubes and then you can either tuck them into the branches or wire them to hang from the branches. (You can buy these test tubes from a florist or floral supply store.) And what else would Cowie use for his sexy red tree but red roses?
  • White Tree: Cowie thinks this one is "very romantic and the most elegant of them all." He "flocked" the tree, which means he sprayed it with flocking and let it dry for about 10 minutes before decorating. ("The flocking is easy, but it's rather messy," he warns.) Put the lights on before flocking. For this tree, use silver ornaments and silver bows and white lights.
  • Unexpected Tree: Who says you can only decorate your tree with red or silver or green? Bright colors are very trendy right now, and purple is especially hot, says Cowie. He says lime color lends contrast, so he used purple lights and ornaments, together with lime green ribbon. "I like to use wired ribbon," explains Cowie, "because it has more body, and the key is to just keep tucking it in so it looks like it's coming from different places."

    Colin's Hints

    • Start with a fresh tree. The fresher the tree, the longer it'll last. You can tell what condition it's in by pulling back on the branches. If the pieces don't fall off, then it's wet enough, which is good.
    • Figure on using 100 lights per foot. "It may sound like a lot," says Cowie, "but that's what makes it look good, darling!" As a matter of fact, one of his secrets to success is: "When you think you have enough on your tree, add 20 more things!" When co-anchor Rene Syler protested, "That's a lof of work, Colin!", the designer replied, "You only do it once."
    • Put the largest ornaments on first to make sure it's balanced. Then fill in with the smaller ornaments, and work from top to bottom.
    • For a bigger impact, attach small round ornaments of different textures together into clusters, and then hang them.
    • Add beading at the very end for the finishing touch.
    • Don't just hang ornaments on the edges of your tree. Tuck them inside to give your tree a fuller look.
    • Hang your wreath at eye level. It shouldn't be too high or too low.
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