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The Best Christmas-Tree Toppers, According to Interior Designers

Photo: The Strategist; Photo: Retailer

Whether it’s a star, a bow, or a delicately shaped finial, a topper is the first thing you see on a Christmas tree. “It’s what catches the eye when we admire a decorated tree,” says interior designer Elaine Griffin, “so it should be gorgeous, glorious, and never an afterthought.” Once you’ve got your ornaments all picked out and artfully arranged on your Christmas tree, the topper is what ties it all together. Or, as Griffin explains, “Ornaments are the choir that makes your Christmas tree sing; the tree topper is its statement-making headliner.” To help you choose from the many options out there, whether you’re going for a classic look or something more modern, I asked interior designers and stylish people alike about their favorites in a variety of styles and price points. Below, 28 show-stopping toppers to crown your tree.

Best star-shaped Christmas-tree toppers

The star-shaped topper is arguably the most traditional option, but just because it’s classic doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Nicole Fisher of BNR Interiors loves these stars for their “traditional shape but unexpected texture and material.” They’re made from washable paper that has been treated and tanned to look like leather and are available in red and white.

Strategist contributor and DIYer Caroline Mullen loves a classic star. After extensive research, she found a 16-point papier mache topper by Cody Foster at Jersey City boutique Kanibal & Co. “I love the handmade, imperfect look of the antique gold leaf on this star as opposed to a glossy, brand-new feeling star,” she says. She also appreciates the cone-like base of the topper, saying that it’s “easier to wiggle onto the top branch than standard spring bases, which almost always end up looking wonky and lopsided.” While Mullen’s specific topper is sold out online, she says you can still buy it in a white glitter version or a smaller 5-point star from the same company, which is also made out of gold-leaf papier mache. Mullen adds that it goes great with all her vintage and thrifted ornaments for her tree: “This star ties together the mid century ornaments and more Victorian-feeling accents I strung onto the tree like bows and pearl garland.”

Mullen also loves a star made out of capiz shell, like this one from Balsam Hill, because she says they “really do harmonize with any style.” She says that it would work equally well with a “vintage-inspired tree with tons of tinsel and blown glass ornaments, in a more traditional home, or with neutral or farmhouse-y Christmas décor.” Another plus is that it is attached to the tree by a thin, 15-inch pole instead of a hollow base that sits on the top branch, “so it’s particularly great for real trees that tend not to be perfectly straight at the top.” Plus it lights up. “Any extra glow you can add to the tree means more Christmas magic,” says Mullen.

Here’s a less-expensive capiz option that Heather Goerzen, Havenly lead interior designer, recommends. “I love the mixed material look of this capiz and brass tree topper,” she says. “It offers subtle sparkle and vintage charm in equal parts — plus it’s only $30.”

Host of podcast Going Mental Eileen Kelly’s star of choice is this rhinestone-studded one. “I grew up Catholic and my family’s tree always had an angel on top,” she says. “As soon as I moved out on my own, Miss Angel got replaced with a star. Honestly, I just liked that it was girly and sparkly.”

For another mid-century modern-style topper, consider a Sputnik star. This particular style is a favorite of Atlanta-based interior designer Jessica Davis of Atelier Davis, who calls it lightweight and therefore easier to install (as in, the tree won’t topple over from its weight). The brass-plated piece comes with a removable spring base, which means you can also hang it as décor. “It’s not traditional, but still festive, shiny, and fun,” says Davis.

New York City–based interior designer Augusta Hoffman recommends this more subdued topper that’s made from beechwood. “The neutral tone makes this a classic but the silhouette doesn’t lean too serious,” she says. It’s made by Mueller, a company that’s been around since 1899 and is located in Seiffen, Germany, the birthplace of the traditional holiday nutcracker.

“Stars with lights are perfect if you have children. They tend to be awestruck by this topper,” says Naeemah Ford Goldson, a certified professional organizer and owner of Restore Order Professional Organizing. She loves this particular topper “because it’s glittery, and I love the contrast between the white and the silver with the lights in between.” The 21-count LED light twinkles and comes with a clip for easy attachment.

For an even more extravagant light show, consider this programmable star that Decorilla lead designer Devin Shaffer recommends. “One way I help clients that prefer white lights but want to add color to their Christmas décor is to go with a smart light tree topper like this one,” says Shaffer. “You get to be in complete control and can even sync your music with the lighting effects.” This Moravian star can be controlled via an app and is equipped with multiple colors and modes. “I’m all about allowing clients to fully experience their emotions via design. If you’re having a blue Christmas, embrace the moody blues; if you’re having a tropical Christmas, go full on green and pink. The list goes on,” says Shaffer.

Stars aren’t the only celestial bodies that can make a tree shine. Strategist writer Ambar Pardilla opted for this crescent moon. “I know the star’s the sort of classic tree topper thing, but I liked that this one’s the moon itself instead. You just get a sliver of silver,” says Pardilla. As she explains, it comes with velvet ribbons on the back that you use to tie the topper to the branches. “This makes the topper look part of the tree, rather than something plopped on top,” she says. Made of gold-trimmed mirror glass, the moon has a “sleepy eye that’s really pretty, too,” and those accents mean that it goes well with her tree ornaments, which are a combination of silver and gold.

Best finial Christmas-tree toppers

If you like mid-century-modern design, Mullen suggests going with a finial. During her search for the perfect tree topper, Mullen fell in love with colorful vintage finials she found on various Etsy stores, like this, this, and this. “If you’re looking for a vintage one, the search terms mercury glass, Shiny Brite, blown glass, mid century, and finial will aid your hunt,” she advises. But if you’re looking to buy new, she loves this minimal clear glass one from H&M Home that she says “does Christmas very well, by the way.”

This mushroom topper from John Derian was recommended by two of our experts, including Hoffman and writer and Strategist contributor Ivy Pochoda. Says Hoffman, “John Derian is my Mecca for kitschy Christmas décor. The playfulness of this mushroom topper would be so charming with strings of popcorn and pom poms.”

Pochoda was on the hunt for the perfect topper for her pink tinsel Christmas tree when I reached out to her, considering a couple of retro finials and stars. She finally settled on this vintage-inspired snowman with a mischievous grin from Christopher Radko’s Shiny Brite. “This is bang on the money for my pink tinsel Christmas tree,” she says. “It’s delightfully deranged (look at that face) but classical in style, as if the Star of Bethlehem were moonlighting as a carnival barker.”

More Christmas-tree toppers

Stars and finials aren’t the only acceptable toppers for your tree. If you like angels, consider these cheery ones made out of felt. They’re a favorite of Porta co-founder Alice Russotti. “I love a bit of felt on the tree and think that these ladies are so sweet and jolly,” she says. “Just the ticket for a cozy Christmas!” Measuring 14 and 15 inches tall, respectively, they’re handcrafted in Nepal and dressed in vibrant robes that would certainly stand out from their perch at the top of the tree.

Los Angeles–based interior designer Shana Sherwood of Sherwood Kypreos prefers a little creature and has been using a red cardinal in her home for the past few years. “It’s whimsical and odd to have a bird sitting on the top of your tree,” she says. “This year, our kids were fighting about who gets to put it on, so that must mean it is a hit in our home.”

For something a little jollier, Goldson also recommends this fun Santa tree topper made from fabric. Measuring just under 15 inches tall, it looks like Santa dancing up there.

You could even go with an animated tree topper, which reminds Shaffer of “holiday markets and old school holiday movies.” He discovered this star, which has a rotating Santa sleigh going around it, after realizing a train set that goes around the base of the tree is a no-go with his pets. While he admits it’s a bit of a splurge, “the topper will bring happiness and joy that’s invaluable.” One piece of advice: “It’s most important to have a sturdy tree that can handle the movement and weight of this style of topper.” It comes with a 6-foot-long cord and a built-in timer with 6 hours on and 18 hours off, “so you don’t have to fuss with unplugging at night.”

You can also go the DIY route and make your own toppers by combining a bunch of elements yourself. That’s what interior designer Kate Dawson does. “The angels and stars, and even the classic glass finials, are just too frustrating and difficult to use. They’re hard to secure and attach to a tree, plus they never stand up straight,” she tells me. Instead, she uses an assortment of (very affordable) sparkly “picks” by creating a cluster at the top of the tree. “It’s a burst of holiday fun that’s eye-catching and easy to keep in place,” she says. Dawson buys all her picks at Michaels, and though not everything she used for this year’s tree is still available, here are a couple that are, plus a few similar ones. As far as how they work, picks come with wires that are bendable and “very easy to wrap around a branch.”

Like Dawson, Shaffer appreciates a little creativity when choosing a topper. “I realized that you can use any ornament or décor piece that has a clip as a tree topper,” he explains. Shaffer recommended these peacock ornaments after seeing similar ones at a local antique store recently. “My advice is to go big — the more feathers the better, as the cascading effect is what makes it a statement,” he says. The color profile of the birds makes them versatile, too. “The number of colors that can be pulled from a peacock feather is nearly limitless, which allows for a variety of colors and patterns for other ornaments on the tree.” These measure 23 inches long and come with clips that you can easily attach to the tree.

“Disco balls have been trending, so why not add one to the top of your tree?” asks interior designer Jessica McCarthy. Interior designer Leah Alexander has also noticed the recent disco-ball craze and is a fan of the “nontraditional take on holiday décor these days,” as exemplified by this “whimsical,” as she calls it, disco-ball tree topper.

Here’s another retro option that McCarthy calls “over-the-top.” This snowflake-shaped crowner is made with gold tinsel and multicolored flower lights. “It’s the perfect way to bring back the nostalgia of the ’50s in an updated way,” she says.

For the interfaith family, Griffin recommends incorporating a Star of David in your Christmas-tree décor. She recommends this simple silver one from Kurt S. Adler, one of our favorite ornament-makers.

If you’re lucky enough to get away for the holidays — to the beach, say — Griffin suggests “going the distance and opting for a tree topper that reflects your destination’s flavor,” like this straw one she likes. “I’m a fan of tastefully done seashell or woven straw montages for the beach,” she says.

Huge bows are another popular option that’s big in the South. “As a Southerner, my love affair with ribbon bows of every iteration began at birth and continues unabated — it’s in our DNA,” says Griffin. “Oversize pom-pom-bow tree toppers are tried, tested, and irrefutably true; they’re eternally chic but also come in every color under the sun, are always affordable, and go with everything.” In other words, “they’re the LBDs of tree toppers.” Here’s a tip from Griffin: “Go easy with the streamers, not longer than 16 inches on an eight-foot tree. Honey, they’re not supposed to be hoopskirts.” She likes this burlap option you can get on Amazon.

Goldson usually has an artificial tree and a real tree that she chops down with her family as a holiday tradition, and for that one, she prefers a ribbon as a topper as well. “This is typically my minimalist tree. I will usually just decorate with small bows, then use a giant bow to top the tree. Or just use lights with a bow at the top,” she says. “Because I can’t get enough of glitter this time of year, this is the bow I’m using to top the real tree.” The snowflake pattern adds a wintry touch to an otherwise plain bow.

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The Best Christmas-Tree Toppers, According to Designers