So up til now I’ve been rather bar humbug about Christmas. With a hardly decorated house, a new build on the go not to mention the puppy we’re picking up this weekend (I know I’ve been in denial about that too!), I’ve just seen Christmas as another thing to add to my insatiable do-do list.
But at the weekend we bit the bullet and went to get our tree, from a fabulous farm here is Sussex called, rather aptly, Sussex Trees. It shook me out of my scrooge stupor. My 5 year old was delighted at the 20 foot inflatable Santa, real reindeer and the fact we had an elf wrap our tree for us. Carols were blasting overhead and well; it was just as Christmas should be. Cheesy, tacky and complete magic.
Happiness is an inflatable santa
Getting into the Christmas spirit at Sussex Trees, serving hot chocolate and home made cakes in their cafe
Look how happy and Christmassey I feel! Swinging from the Christmas bus as Sussex Trees
Then I heard Daniel Hopwood on Radio 4 today talking about Christmas decorations of all things. It was a rather surreal conversation, but he totally nailed it. Christmas is all about two things. The kids and nostalgia. Creating the memories that we ourselves enjoy looking back on. The radio presenter commented that she wouldn’t let her kids anywhere near the tree and my heart broke a little bit. If style dictator Daniel Hopwood can drop his guard at Christmas so can you! For me that was a tree laden in stuff we’d crafted round the kitchen table with my Mum. It was laden in decorations that we’d collected year on year, that looked familar every time we unpacked them. There was no ‘theme’. The very thought of a ‘themed’ Christmas tree makes me want to drown myself in eggnog. I’m going to get really bossy here, but if you have children, it is their birthright that you let them dress the tree. If you see it as an instagram opportunity then you really are missing the point. Christmas trees should be twinkling with lights and laden with a joyful bevy of Christmas decs. That don’t match match!
My dearly beloved collection of Vintage glass baubles that I collected from eBay.
I myself have a collection of vintage baubles that go all the way back to the 60’s that I ‘de love to say were family heirlooms but I bough them on Ebay. They are baycked up by a basic set of colourful beauties from Paperchase (who I think do the best kitsch baubles) and then som eeven cheaper ones from one of the DIY sheds. Christmas Decs can get expensive so I treat myself to a new special one each year and then pad the rest of the tree out with plastic ones. I love the old glass ones best, but when they’re all chucked on you honestly can’t tell the difference.
Our handpicked tree takes pride of place in the living room waiting for the magic to happen. walls painted in Aloe Spike by Paint by Conran. Walls papered in Circus by Cole and Son.
Here are my rules for the perfect tacky Christmas tree that childhood memories are made of
First up you’ve got to keep it real in my opinion. The scent a real tree fills the room with is all part of the nostalgia. Plastic just can’t recreate that. I also love the eccentricity of bring a real tree into your living room for a few weeks and covering it in sparkly gear. (And you’d have to keep your fake tree for 25 years in order for it to be more environmentally friendly than buying a real tree every year)
Step back Mamma Hitler. Christmas trees are for kids to decorate. Make it a family ritual unpacking the decs and hanging them on the tree. (You can always have a reshuffle when they’ve gone to bed)
Start with the fairy lights. Go for warm white LED. I’d even be tempted to go multi coloured but I don’t want to freak everyone out. Start at the top, wrap around the top and then zig zag through the bottom branches. Tuck the lights into the branches to disguise the flex.
Hand made decs always add soul. Children’s paper decs, handmade biscuits, play doh or painted pottery shapes all look charming. And if you can get some glitter in there all the better
Play around with scale. I have some large 10cm baubles that I hang on the lower branches and smaller 3cm baubles and everything in between.
I love a rainbow kaleidoscope of a tree. However white really helps as it pops out of the dark green so use some plain white decs in with everything else you are using to bring the look alive.
Have some decs that sit on top of the branches as well as ones that simply hang down. This is particularly useful on the lower branches. I use butterflies and birds that I bought from the florists market, but you can pick them up on eBay. You can also use fake flowers, faux apples/pears or crackers. One year I even made some origami fans.
Tree toppers are a tricky one. Shop bought ones just miss in my opinion. Its time to get out the loo roll and get making. Santa, Angel Gabriel, Holy star and Elsa from Frozen are all viable options.
Its fun to have some edible treats on the tree. Foil wrapped chocolates; handmade biscuits or candy canes are all great ideas.
Tinsel. It’s still a no!
Arthur gets stuck in decorating the tree. He likes the candy canes best!
Feathered birds and butterflies always make an appearance on our Christmas tree
Treat yourself to a new and special bauble every year. This one was a gift from my brother, who buys the most fabulous presents!
I’d love to know your ideas to make Christmas special, and not just for the kids. It’s the little rituals that we repeat year on year and pass down through the generations that make it such a special time.