I also highly recommend an ornament box. I think I got mine at Lowes or Target. It's a plastic box with cardboard separators. You can store all your ornaments in this box and it makes super easy to clean up and store at the end of the season.
I prefer a fake tree because I can use it every year. We always had a real one when I was growing up and I have great memories of going to cut our own tree. It's really your preference. If you get a real tree you need a tree stand and to remember to keep it watered. If you have a fake tree fluff all the branches by pulling them apart. They are all crushed when you pull the tree out of a box or from storage. I keep my tree in an enormous Chrismas tree bag. I bought it around the holidays a few years ago and it's much easier than trying to stuff the tree into the original box.
Add your lights or turn them on. We have a few branches that burnt out so I added an additonal string of lights. It was a much cheaper alternative than buying a new tree. They are expensive!
Add ribbon or garland. I used two rolls of 30 ft ribbon. The ribbon adds more dimension to the tree. If you can't find 30 ft ribbon you can combine some shorter rolls to make a long piece. You can also add a beaded garland in place of the ribbon.
Load your tree up with ornaments. I like to start with plain round "filler" balls first. Then I add the more interesting ornaments. I try to keep my two colors evenly spread out through out the tree. The last ornaments I put on are crystal and gold icicles. They add a sparkly touch.
I place them wherever I feel there are "holes" in the tree.
Now finish it off with a tree topper and skirt. Voila! Ready for presents.
One more shot with the lights off.