Go all-out this Christmas and turn your home into a Winter Wonderland
Did you know that people who put their Christmas tree up early are happier than people who wait until the last minute? That’s according to the latest research at least, which says that putting up your Christmas decorations can reduce stress and anxiety.
If that’s not a good enough reason to get those decorations up as soon as December comes (if not before!) then we don’t know what is!
But forget limp strands of tinsel and a measly plastic tree in the corner. This year, go all-out and make your home the envy of the street.
Real versus fake
Which is better, a real tree or a fake one? It depends on circumstances, but no-one can deny the smell of a real tree can’t be beaten.
If you decide to go for a real tree, it’s important to choose the right one for you. John Matthews from the Christmas Tree Place in Berkhamsted explains the difference.
The two main types of tree in the UK are:
- Nordmann Fir: These have been grown in the UK for 30 years and are by far the most popular as they’re non-drop. The needles are soft and dark green, although the underside has a bluish tinge. They’re the easiest to look after.
- Norway Spruce: With its lovely dense branches, this used to be the UK’s most popular. Choose this for the traditional Christmas tree smell. They’re also quite a bit cheaper, if you don’t mind dropping a few more needles.
Before you buy one, decide where you want it to go. Make sure you measure the area properly – it’s hard to judge the size by eye. Remember that a stand will add around 15cm – you don‘t want to get it home and have to lop off a couple of feet!
‘The standard ceiling is around 7ft 6ins, so a 6-7ft tree should be perfect for most homes,’ says John. ‘We shape them as they grow so they don’t grow as wide as they are tall, as people don’t have the space these days.
‘Always buy a freshly cut tree, and never buy a tree without looking at it out of its net. Don’t be afraid to look at quite a number.’
Once you’ve got your tree home it’s important to follow care instructions to keep it looking its best.
‘The two most important rules are to buy it when it’s freshly cut, and then make sure it has enough water,’ explains John.
- Before you put it up, saw an inch or so off the bottom to open the pores in the bark and allow it to take in more water. ‘We do this for our customers,’ says John.
- Buy fresh. ‘A Christmas tree farm is by far the best place to buy. We start cutting them at the end of November and cut more throughout the month, so the one you choose will only have been cut a day or two at most.’
- Make sure your stand holds at least four pints of water, as well as the tree trunk. Any less and it will dry out. ‘This is so important,’ says John. ‘Too many people buy a stand that only holds a little bit of water and then wonder why their tree dries out. Give it four pints every day and it will look as good on 4th January as it did on 1st December.’
- Don’t be afraid to cut bits off. ‘Cutting branches from your tree won’t damage it,’ says John. ‘If you need to cut branches off the back to fit it in, then do it.’
- Keep it away from heat. ‘An open fire will be a hazard, but also you’ll dry the tree out and it will drop needles and go brown much quicker if you put it too close to a radiator or on underfloor heating,’ says John.
There are some cracking fake trees around these days – although remember, the plastic will take decades to decay. If you’re going fake, at least try to choose the best you can afford so it will last as many years as possible!
For something a bit different, try one of these:
- A pre-lit tree saves getting in a tangle with the lights every year
- A black tree gives a twist on the original
- A slim tree is ideal for small spaces
- A half tree has one flat edge for small rooms
- A snowy tree gives a pretty, alternative look
Decorating the tree
So, your tree is up. Are you going to throw the usual mishmash of old baubles and angels made by the kids at it?
If you want something a bit more stylish this year, or fancy a change of colour scheme from the usual red and
gold, try these.
This year, John Lewis announced that one of the most popular – and more importantly, Instagram-friendly – colour schemes would be the rainbow tree. This basically involves buying lots of different colour baubles and graduating them from the top to the bottom. It’ll take a lot of baubles and a bit of planning, but it looks pretty effective!
In a break from tradition, why not combine the warmth and cosiness of autumn with the magic of Christmas? Try bronze and golden colours, pine cones, oranges, tawny, muted colours, foiled leaves and woodland animals. Simple but effective.
A Christmas tree takes 10 years to grow from seed. For the first three years it hardly grows at all. It’s planted in April and the growing period is from May until the middle of July; during this time it grows around 1cm per day. And then it stops until the following year.
So the tree you buy this Christmas was planted in 2008 – make sure you love it as much as it deserves!