I've seen lots of lovely images this week on social media and the press of Christmas Trees. Regardless of whether it's part of your celebration of a religious festival, or a continuance of ancient winter traditions of bringing greenery and light into the house in the darkest months, many homes in Britain will be putting up trees, decorations and tinsel in the next couple of weeks.
When we started out our home together we always got a fresh tree - I loved the smell and the realness of it. One time we tried a tree in a pot. This was expensive and died by the summer, but was worth it for the expression on the face of the guy at the tip when we took a Christmas tree there for composting in July - even by our areas standards that's slack house keeping.
Then a couple of years ago the only space we had available for a tree was by the radiator where a real tree would swiftly perish, so our plastic tree was duly chosen and became part of our family tradition.
Some of my friends will have carefully thought out a colour scheme for their beautiful real tree, replacing decorations each year to fit in with their vision. They are probably shaking their head in dismay at our tree. For us, decorating a tree is about getting the effect that someone shook out a box of stuff from the loft over a cheap plastic hardware store bargain (although ours still has too many branches and is in too good condition to be a really authentic plastic Christmas tree).
To achieve this effect, follow these simple rules:
1. Apart from putting on the fairy lights, adult hands do not touch the decoration of the tree, this is kid territory now
2. Tinsel goes on after the fairy lights, it should be draped and clumped, and at times twirled into nests for the other decorations 'so they don't get cold bottoms'
3. The ratio of bought/gifted to made/found decorations should weigh firmly in favour of the made and found ones. These should involve glitter, salt dough, cotton wool, stickers, felt tip pens and possibly lego
4. Bought decorations should be chosen by the kids. They should make no sense and should not match any other decorations, for example this year's choice of a sequined owl 'because who said penguins and robins are the only birds that are Christmassy'.
5. Gifted items should be prized by order of weirdness and distance travelled, hence why we gave my inlaws a sparkly green gherkin decoration from Spreewald in Germany this year. Occasionally someone will give you a tasteful tree decoration, this is kind and appreciated, but will be used in such a way as to make it less tasteful, such as a gorgeous crocheted bell becoming a woolly hat for a fairy.
6. Found items can include plastic junk from magazines and a Babycham sparkly deer decoration that no-one remembers the origin of since the last time we saw Babycham was the 1980s and we were too young to drink it then.
6. If you have very small children/pets then decorations should begin at least half way up the tree, and the tree may be surrounded by gates giving the impression of a piece of modern art commenting on social injustice and shiny things only being available to those at the top.
7. Never throw out a decoration unless it has become broken in such a way as to be dangerous. The joy of decorating a tree is largely in remembering how you've had some of the decorations for x number of years, where they came from and who made them.
8. Add at least one new decoration each every year, preferably home made or at least a little weird-looking.
9. Every decoration must be used every year.
10. By combining rules 7, 8 and 9 over time you should get to the ideal point where the tree is barely visible.
If you follow these ten rules, hopefully you will have as much fun as we did. Plus with something this glorious it's only a matter of time before Ideal Home Magazine is knocking on the door for photos and an interview. You're welcome x