How to Criss Cross Ribbons on a Christmas Tree

Updated on January 17, 2017
Creative Commons Image 2.0 by Mastery of Maps on Flickr
Creative Commons Image 2.0 by Mastery of Maps on Flickr

Criss cross ribbon Christmas trees are not only beautiful, but very elegant. The ribbon adds design, texture, and color to any tree, regardless of the theme. The criss-crossed ribbon creates a very full and densely decorated appearance for a lavish, designer look.

This idea works well with both expensive and inexpensive trees. The look works wonders on cheaper trees with a low tip count since the eyes are drawn to the decorations and ribbon, so the bare spots in the tree are not as noticeable. Since this technique is fairly new, it offers a unique approach for any decorator looking to create a beautiful and elegant looking tree.

Materials Needed

This look is very simple. All you need is:

  • A roll of wired ribbon
  • Craft wire or bread tie
  • Scissors, and
  • About 20-30 minutes

You can use any color, style, or patterned ribbon as long as it is wired ribbon. I would suggest that you use ribbon that is 2-3 inches wide because it is easier to work with and it won't look like you went overboard.

Depending on the size of your tree, you will need 6 to 8 pieces of ribbon cut about twice the length of your tree.

  • For example, if you have a 6 foot tree, you will want to cut 6 pieces of ribbon 12 feet long.
  • If you have a slender tree, then 6 pieces will be plenty.
  • If you have a very big Christmas tree that is very full and wide, you will want to do 8 pieces.
  • Extremely large trees over 8 feet high and 3 feet wide will probably need 10 to 12 pieces of ribbon.

If you don't get it right at first, don't worry. You can easily add or take away ribbon as needed when you get to the first step.

How Much Ribbon Do You Need for Your Tree?

Tree Height
Pieces of Ribbon
Length of Ribbon
6 ft
Slender or medium
12 feet
6 ft
Very full
12 feet
8 ft
Very full
16 feet

How Do You Decorate Your Christmas Tree?

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1. Prepare Your Ribbons by Securing Them at One End

Secure the ribbon pieces at one end.
Secure the ribbon pieces at one end.
  1. After cutting the ribbon into individual lengths, gather them and make sure that any patterns or designs are all going in the same direction.
  2. Once you have them in order, secure them using a rubber band, bread tie, or other method to keep them held together tightly.
  3. Leave 2 to 3 inches so that you can secure it to the tree.

2. Drape and Secure Your Ribbon to Your Tree

Drape the ribbons over the tree evenly.
Drape the ribbons over the tree evenly.

After securing the ends of the ribbon, it's time to drape them over the tree.

  1. Place the secured end on top of the tree and drape the ribbons evenly around it.
  2. Pull your ribbons straight and then secure the top to the tree by pinning, using wire or tucking it under the topper. I have a star topper that fits snugly on the tip of the tree so I hide the end of my ribbons under the base of the topper.

3. Make the First Cross

The first row of sections will look weird....don't worry! It's normal.
The first row of sections will look weird....don't worry! It's normal.

Now that you have the ribbons evenly distributed around the tree, it's time to make the first criss cross.

  1. Starting anywhere on the tree, select two ribbons that are next to each other and cross them. You want to make your cross about 12 inches from the top of the tree.
  2. Twist these two pieces together twice by pinching them where they intersect, and twisting it tightly and in a fashion so that the metal wraps kind of snugly to hold the cross in place. Continue doing this all the way around the tree until you have every ribbon paired up with the next and they are all crossed. (From here on, we will refer to the two pieces of ribbon crossing as "sections" and a round of sections will be referred to as "rows.")
  3. Once you have criss-crossed the ribbon on the first row, it will look weird. Don't worry — it will all come together shortly. It's normal for it to look too close together at the top and too wide between the sections. Just make sure your sections are even around the tree. If not, adjust and straighten them accordingly. Each section will be a guide for keeping your sections straight on each row.

Close Up: How to Criss Cross Ribbon on the Tree

Your twists should look something like this on each section of your criss-crossed ribbon Christmas tree.

4. The Next Step: Cross the Ribbons Again

On the second row, you will criss cross ribbons again but with different ribbons.

  1. Start with a section and cross the left ribbon with the first ribbon of the section to the left, and the right ribbon with the first ribbon in the right section.
  2. Criss cross the ribbons with their new mates and continue until the row is finished. Again, all the ribbons should be matched up on this row and there should not be any leftover ribbons that are not criss-crossed on any row.
  3. Once you have completed the second row, continue on to the next until you make it to the bottom of the tree. The sections of each row should cross in between the sections of the previous row, creating a webbed pattern.
  4. Try to keep the sections straight. The sections in the first, third and fifth row should line up evenly, while the second, fourth and sixth line up evenly, but are off-centered in the odd rows.

5. The Final Step

Once you have criss-crossed the ribbon to the bottom of your Christmas tree, you are almost finished.

  1. You can either cut the excess ribbon off and tuck the end into the tree or make a final criss cross between the sections, cut off the ends and tuck it neatly along the bottom branches to create a solid ring around the bottom of the tree. Work with the ends until you have it the way you like it.
  2. Once you have finished criss-crossing the ribbon on your Christmas tree, go back and adjust the sections, rows, and individual ribbons so that they are evenly lined up with ribbons nice and straight so that your tree has an overall nice and neat appearance.

What Do You Think of the Criss Crossed Ribbon Christmas Tree?

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Share your thoughts, tips and ideas for decorating your own tree.

Suggestions, Tips, and Ideas

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    • profile image

      JB 2 months ago

      It turned out great I recommend to tie the bottom(last pieces) ribbons to be tied to the trunk on the bottom of the tree

    • profile image

      JC 2 months ago

      According to the guide, I tried 6 ribbons with a 6 ft of medium width; I had to stop on the second row, I was not liking it. It looked too sparse. I need 8 strands of ribbon.

    • profile image

      I did it! 2 months ago

      Thanks so much for your detailed instructions. I love the way my tree turned out! I have struggled for years with the ribbon on my tree and this is definitely a do-over. (What our family calls things we plan to do again.) Thanks again :)

    • profile image

      808momof4 2 months ago

      This is my second year following these directions and I love it just as much as last year! It's such a classy addition to our Christmas tree!! And each year can look completely different from the last depending on the ribbon you choose to use. Thank you so much!! I wish I could share a picture with you of our tree this year.

    • profile image

      Grace 2 months ago

      Very well explained will try it for Christmas 2017. Have been using the same style for years and need the change. Thank you and have a Merry Christmas!

    • profile image

      NcRc 3 months ago

      I really like how sophisticated this makes your tree look! I'm going to try this this year!

    • profile image

      Aiya 3 months ago

      How many rools of ribbon used

    • profile image

      Julee.h 3 months ago

      Saftey pins are easier

    • profile image

      Koni Markussen 4 months ago

      Thanks so much for the great directions and pictures. I love beautiful trees. I'm doing a country tree this year so not sure it will work but i'm doing this next year for sure!

      love it!

    • profile image

      Rosalyn Curenton 4 months ago

      Love this idea. Plan to do it this year. Thanks for the instructions.

    • profile image

      Sue 13 months ago

      Awesome, it looked great and I received so many compliments this year.

      The most memorable compliment was that my tree belonged in a magazine! Thanks for the tutorial, it was extremely helpful.

    • profile image

      Anne 14 months ago

      Thanks for taking the time to post. I did it! Made my tree look beautiful! Merry Christmas!

    • profile image

      Josie 14 months ago

      Just love this pattern for a X-mas tree I used colors dark purple dark blue and turquoise blue finishing results just beautiful

    • profile image

      Megan 14 months ago

      I love the way this looks! We have a huge tree (9ft tall & 5ft wide) so I was nervous that I only had 8 spools of ribbon that were each 14.5 long. So I spaced my rows a little farther apart and it worked perfectly! I even had room at the end to tie bows in the ribbon to finish the rows off! Thank you for the inspiration!

    • profile image

      WitchKing 14 months ago

      I am hoping that my idea turns out "ok" took two different color ribbons (burgundy and gold) here is crossing my fingers!!!

    • profile image

      Sarah Schuster 14 months ago

      I did mine this year with garland I have and it turned out nicely might have to add two more strands next year.

    • profile image

      Yvonne 15 months ago

      I criss crossed the ribbon on my tree last year and it was beautiful. This year I will use a different color theme. Thanks for sharing your ideas!!

    • profile image

      De 15 months ago

      How did you make the bow for the top? My tree rotates, does this bow go over the tree top or sit in front?

    • profile image

      Cheryl Taylor 15 months ago

      I just saw this beautiful tree done in Blue with Blue Poinsettias. Adored it. We always do a theme or color scheme. This year Living room in Blue, our kitchen is the the trafitional Red and Green and our bathroom in Pink and White. Last year was not a good Christmas. We were filled with sadness and depression. This year we feel better and want to decorate and celebrate our Lord and be happy and thankful. We are trying this tree. Enjoy your Christmas. And by all means Merry Christmas.

    • listsnthings profile image

      Toya Christie 2 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      This style of decorating the tree is so effective but simple enough especially if you have left your decorating until the last minute or need to decorate a tree quickly for a party or other event.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      This is so beautiful, festive and easy to do. I would love to do this next year for my artificial tree, since I assume it would work on either a fake or real tree. Great pics to show how it's done, too.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      wow those are beautiful ribbons, you are indeed talented

    • Ilonagarden profile image

      Ilona E 2 years ago from Ohio

      This looks really cute. It seems impractical for a large tree that we have in our living room, but I'm going to try it anyway. I like the look of ribbons on a tree.

    • Helga Silva profile image

      Helga Silva 2 years ago from USA

      Looks gorgeous. Thanks for detailed instruction.

    • profile image

      Patricia 2 years ago

      Beautiful and elegant look and easy for grandchildren to help:)

    • profile image

      Mara 2 years ago

      You need more than one roll of ribbon.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

      With Christmas nearly here it's time to start decorating the tree.

      I came across your article, it's so beautiful and you have explained how to do it very well.

      Hope you have many more readers spreading this simple idea for decorating a tree all around the world.

      I will pin it on my board. Here's to a great Christmas and happy 2016 to you.

    • profile image

      Susan 2 years ago

      The crisis cross tree was a great idea !!!

    • profile image

      Renee 2 years ago

      Loved this idea!

    • profile image

      susanna 3 years ago

      I didvnot have a chance to buy a wired ribbon what should I do?

    • profile image

      Rosie 3 years ago

      Thanks for the great directions. Tried it for a change today and the family loved it

    • profile image

      Tushar 3 years ago

      LOL. The sad part is that it's true! I rmeember that year. I just don't rmeember which year it was exactly and why it happened.And for the record, our tree is not up either. Only going up next weekend because we don't have J the weekend after that or I'd wait until then. Too much work to keep kids from taking off ornaments!

    • profile image

      BrendaLea 3 years ago

      Thanks for the wonderful directions. Will be doing this on my tree today. Hope it looks as good as yours does. Merry Christmas.

    • profile image

      Jon 3 years ago

      wish I had to know this last year took me a long time to do it last year

    • profile image

      Heatherro 3 years ago

      Beautiful cannot wait to try this on my tree this year!!

    • profile image

      Eliza Brito 3 years ago

      Love you should check my tree from last year with criss crossed mesh(: give it a try(:

    • casquid profile image

      casquid 3 years ago

      I always wondered how to do this. Beautiful!!

    • SoSimplyStephanie profile image

      Stephanie 5 years ago from DeFuniak Springs

      @Michey LM: Thank you Michey! You and yours, too!

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      We wish you a Merry Christmas;

      We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

      Good tidings we bring to you and your kin;

      Good tidings for Christmas and a Happy New Year.

    • DeboraR profile image

      DeboraR 5 years ago

      I've never seen ribbon done this way on a tree before. I'd love to give it a try!

    • Scraps2treasures profile image

      Scraps2treasures 5 years ago

      That makes a gorgeous tree! Thanks so much for the instructions. Blessed.

    • oztoo lm profile image

      oztoo lm 5 years ago

      Great idea, it looks lovely. Thanks for sharing.

    • writerkath profile image

      writerkath 5 years ago

      I know my hubby would like this - it has a real symmetrical appearance as well as just beautiful! :)

    • heehaw lm profile image

      heehaw lm 5 years ago

      Very elegant way of decorating xmas trees with Criss Crossed Ribbon. this is a wonderful creative idea. thanks for sharing with us. great lens!

    • Art Inspired profile image

      Art Inspired 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your knowledge. It is always good to learn something new. Make it a creative day!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thank you so very much. I had seen this and wanted to it this year. This was just what I needed. Mine turned out wonderful because of you sharing...Yhanks again! Merry Christmas!