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Being a bit of a traditionalist I usually leave my Christmas decorations up until 12th night, but I am afraid the Christmas cards have to come down well before that! I always stick most of them to the door at the bottom of the stairs (behind which are the gas and electricity meters so the door doesn't get opened over the holiday) and the rest go on the door in the kitchen. They always look lovely when I first put them all up and it's nice to be able to see the pictures, as the cards seem to get more attractive every year. I'm sure you can sense that there is a BUT coming now can't you? Well here it is. But, when they have been up for a while they start to curl at the edges and look really tatty, so that's why they always get taken down straight after New Year. Now, what do I do with them next I hear you ask? Oh come on show a bit of interest! My first job is to go through them all to check whether there are any messages written inside that I need to make a note of - new address, new e mail address, names of children so that I can put the names on my card next year! Incidentally I always write the names of the children in my address book below the parents name and address. I find that really useful when I am writing my cards each year, especially as I have a memory like a sieve! The next thing that I do is to go through and see if there are any pictures or designs that can be cut out to make gift tags. All I do is cut out whatever it is that I find, punch a hole though the edge and thread thin red ribbon through it - hey presto a gift tag. The final thing that I do is put all the remaining cards, and bits of cards, in a carrier bag along with all my birthday cards from November and take them to a recycling point. Boots always have boxes in all their stores for the recycling of Christmas cards and they are there from New Year until the end of January so you have no excuse not t
o recycle. I have also noticed that my local branch of Tesco's is also providing a recycling box this year, so that?s where mine will be going. I don't know whether all the Tesco's stores are doing this, I would imagine so. Anyway the point is that it is something that we can all do to save just a little bit more of our world's resources and if we all do our bit surely it will make a difference.
Help! I don't want to be a perfectionist..... My husband much prefers a real Christmas tree to a fake one, so every year for the past five years we have spent the best part of an evening just before Christmas messing around with a bucket of gravel, trowels, chunks of wood, hammer and nails, secateurs and an unhelpful seven foot tall Norway spruce wrapped in finger-lacerating plastic netting. It is quite a complex operation getting the trunk inserted securely into the purpose-made tree base that he has devised. First of all, four 12" lengths of pine tongue-and-groove wall cladding are nailed lengthwise to the trunk to enclose it in a sort of box. Then it is slotted into a thick circular piece of wood, cut to the diameter of the bucket, before being located centrally in place and packed in tightly with gravel. Finally, the bucket is filled almost to the top with water and the tree is cut free from the tangle of plastic netting. The bucket (a bright orange 10 litre catering cooking oil bucket) also has to be covered with foil to make it look festive. The nice thing about a real pine tree is the scent that it brings into the room but it is, I admit, a rather messy houseguest. I hoover up the needles scattered on the carpet after the tree is in place and we rotate it gingerly to make sure that its best profile is facing the centre of the room. Then we will leave it overnight to allow the branches to relax down after being tightly wrapped for heaven knows how long. The next day my husband drapes one hundred tiny white lights over the tree (secure in the knowledge that fusspot here will not be happy with the result and need to make essential adjustments herself...). We have moved gradually to a minimalist colour scheme for the big tree over the past few years. A seven footer takes a lot of decorating so we bought big packs of plain and faceted baubles in gold, silver, white and crystal. Some of the prettiest ones are twelve 6&qu
ot; twisted gold icicles that we bought on holiday in the Loire region of France one autumn. We also have some simple white glitter-coated polystyrene 'snowballs' which are very effective. The only splashes of primary colour (and you have to look hard to see them!) are three perky clip-on robins that I perch on high branches as if they've come in for a warm roost overnight to add a humourous touch. The final additions are thick lengths of gold and silver tinsel and some strings of gold and silver bells. We don't have an angel on the top of the tree, instead we have a single large clear star which has one of the white lights slotted up inside to illuminate it. It takes me about two hours to complete the decoration of the tree, together with numerous cups of tea and the occasional mince pie to keep my strength up. Many times I have wished fervently that I wasn't such a perfectionist and could just put it up and forget it. My husband knows that I will be tweaking the decorations for at least a couple of days before I'm happy. Well, icicles just have to hang straight, don't they? Lopsided ones only spoil the effect :-)
A rather short opinion by my usual standards but I thought you might like to know of a family tradition we have regarding Christmas tree decorations. You will often see decorations for Baby's 1st Christmas - a lovely keepsake. But why not do as my Mum has done and keep the tradition going. My Mum buys a new Christmas tree decoration every year so that when I have my own home I'll have my own set of decorations to start me off. Over the years we have looked out for that year's special new edition throughout the year, often finding them when on holidays or days out. This mean many of the decorations don't just bring back happy memories of Christmas but of other events - we have a koala in a stocking from Australia, a robin from a trip to the Isle of Man, a wooden Santa from Germany and a crystal angel from Switzerland. Admittedly this will be my 28th Christmas and some of the decorations are looking a little the worse for wear but given the memories behind them it doesn't matter. It makes decorating the tree quite an event. Of course this tradition needn't just be for your children, just deciding to buy one new decoration a year for the household or as a married couple would be equally special.
I find that the best place to buy decorations for your tree is your local garden centre. Most have a part of the indoors store sectioned off especially for the tree, table and other decorations. These are more expensive, but they’re much better quality and last a lot longer too. To have the perfect tree, I firstly suggest that you get a real one. Yes, it might get needles all over the floor, but it will look a lot more authentic than a plastic one. Next choose a theme. And be adventurous! I once did a Fairy/Angel theme and another year I did a ‘Santa’s Workshop’ theme, with lots of toys and gifts. If you're really stuck just choose a colour. For a really professional looking tree, team two colours, preferably something festive like red and gold or blue and silver, and get a selection of cheap baubles and ribbon in both colours for decoration. And you don’t have to leave it there. If you’re willing to pay more you can also buy an assortment of little wooden figures or an ornate angel for the top of the tree. Small touches like this just add to the character of your tree. But don’t clutter or crowd it. Remember, less is more. Also, don’t forget the crackers, which must be saved till Christmas dinner, and if you have children, a whole range of gifts and surprises for them to discover. Little chocolates are a must. The bought ones are expensive and not very Christmasy, so I suggest that you buy normal chocolates and make little parcels to put them in. Another idea is to attend a decorations demonstration at a local garden centre or farm. These prove for a splendid day out, as well as giving you more ideas and the chance to buy more things. I went to a presentation last year and enjoyed it thoroughly. It taught me how to customise my tree decorations and make classy bows and things on my own. Finally, when you’re decorating get the whole
family involved, however unwilling they may be, and play Christmas music in the background for atmosphere. Be imaginative, be daring, be resourceful, and have fun!!
No my title isn’t a Christmas store or some strange code it’s how long it takes me to decorate my Christmas tree! Here’s my day in the life of a perfectionist tree decorator. I need to be in the mood so off goes the TV and on goes a selection of music that I can listen to. No not Christmas carols YUCK! But a mix of De la soul (Groove is in the heart), Depeche Mode club remixes, Space (Neighborhood), Stone Roses (Fools Gold) and other such tunes courtesy of Napster. Out comes the tree and the day begins. I have a fake tree and I love it, because it’s fake it means I can manipulate the branches as needed and I will need to in pursuit of perfection. The first thing I have to do after assembling the 3 parts is to rearrange the branches to make it look full and realistic. This process involves going through the branches one by one and takes approximately 1-2 hours until it looks just right (it’s a 7ft tree). It seems over the top but it really makes all the difference in the long run. Next comes the dreaded job – the lights. It takes two sets of 100 lights to cover most of the tree but even then they don’t fit all the way around so I leave a section bare that will become the back. Tucked into the corner it’s not noticeable so it’s not worth investing in even more lights to cover it. I hate wires showing and this is where the flexible branches are a godsend, I manipulate them around the wires and the lights themselves so that when the job is finished it’s extremely hard to see any wires at all. Unfortunately to achieve that it takes a long long time and quite frankly it’s boring. This is where the music comes in as I wiggle my bottom and dance around singing in a way that makes me very grateful none of my friends are around to see me! The lights take me between 3-5 hours depending how determined I’m feeling that particular year, this year
they took me 4 hours but it actually goes quite quickly. Every branch is evenly layered and after I’ve finished I take about another ½ hour to go round and make sure the branches are looking just right again and all the lights are hidden in the branches. This gives a lovely effect as it slightly dulls the lights and gives them that quality that is almost magical, instead of being a solid bright light they reflect off of the bristles that are around them and glow. After those two jobs are done it’s quite quick (well in comparison) to finish the job. The baubles are next, I decorate in red and gold mainly and they are evenly spread around the tree, not too many just enough. The chocolates are next – all 150 of them eek! I don’t use the hangers when I put them on the tree, I just slip them over the branches (after tying the annoying knots). This has two advantages, firstly it keeps the length shorter so they dangle rather than sit on the branches and secondly they are far less likely to fall off every time you brush against the tree. Then the rest of the decorations go on. I try to buy a few special ones every year and my eventual plan is to replace all the chocolates with proper decorations. I normally spend between 20p and £3 on one but they are worth it as they make the tree look very special. All of that takes me about another 2 hours or so depending on how much time I spend pretending to be a rock star (yep still wiggling that bottom). I can’t stand a tree that is too cluttered so I make sure they are evenly spread and no two decorations are on top of one another, it’s actually easier than it sounds to do. Nearly there! It’s just a case of throwing over the red and gold lamenta now and even that has to be done just right. I take a hand full of strands and drag it over so that a few are left behind on each branch. That way you avoid clumps and it hangs just right. On
goes the golden fairy and I’m just about ready to collapse – but it’s done. And although I may not be the best decorator in the world and living in the middle of nowhere hardly anyone will see it I’m left with the most wonderful satisfaction and a beautiful tree that I can enjoy for the next month. I expect you are thinking I’m completely insane right about now but my tree is one thing that always looks beautiful and up until now anyone who has seen it has never laughed at me for taking so much time. Time to turn off the music and relax a bit before my daughter comes in and sees it and all that hard work is undone! Definitely a worthy days work. Just lastly a quick tip for you. I can't bare the thought of doing the lights every year so what I do is fold up the tree from the bottom up and put brown tape around it to hold it all in place. Next year remove the tape and let the branches come back down and you have a tree ready to decorate with lights already on. All you need to do is re-shape the branches again. When we moved this year we had to cut the lights so I had to do it again but I won't be next year!
For those members out there who live in the Lancashire area, there is a fantastic garden centre in Todmorden that has been around for as long as I can remember, and can cater for all your decoration needs. Having moved into our house two years back, my girlfriend and I decided to pay a visit to said garden centre, and with it being close to Christmas thought they may have a few decorations. The display they put on is nothing short of amazing, and we have visited for the last 2 years now and always manage to get something. As well as the usual trees, they have displays for anything you could need, and it is all set out within what can only be described as "Aladdins Caves'". They have all manner of decs, lighting, scenes, singing things, etc etc. Prices are reasonable, and it is well worth a visit. The name of the centre is "Gordon Riggs", and is situated on the main road through Todmorden, near Bacup, Rochdale, Bury, Burnley etc. I haven't been this year as yet, but I am confident they will have a similar display on.
You can make your own decorations the ones that I did there where a hit where 1)pine cones -sprayed painted gold, arranged in a bowl with greenery. 2)pop corn -popped corn strung on to cotton then hung on to a tree. Please don't eat it after it has been on the tree for about a week. Hang it out in the garden of the birds. If you don't buy a tree or forgot. If you have a fir tree in your garden then saw off a branch and spray gold stick in a bucket of sand then hang a few decorations on it a really cheap tree. Don't forget decorations like paper chains and hanging tinsel around the room. If you don't have a tree hang the lights around the room. It makes it look really nice.
I have a huge problem this Christmas: friends, with children are visiting, and our house still looks like a building site! As everyone knows, most Christmas fun is around the dining table, be it playing games, eating, or drinking after our big meal. However our dining room is a complete mess. Half of the walls haven't got plaster on them, there is no carpet, no curtains, and no wallpaper. However, I plan to make this into a wonderful Christmassy room, and go completely over the top. I'm going to buy enough muslim to completely cover the walls. I'm going mainly for white, but I'm also going to get a couple of swathes of gold and red material. This is going to be made into curtains, the length and bredth of the room. I'm going to pin them the to top of the walls, and let them hang at the bottom. Behind the curtains I'm going to fix lots of fairy lights - all white. These can be bought from Woolies, and are really cheap. They will twinkle behind the muslim, creating a magical effect. I'm also going to buy lots of tinsel. This will be drapped along the top of the material, hiding the pins, and accenting the drapes. Our Christmas tree (fake 5', £7.99 from Woolies) will go in the corner of the room, and also be decorated only with red and gold, with white fairy lights. Staying within a colour schemes makes it much more stylish. This will take care of the walls, creating a much softer atmosphere in our dining room, and hiding our ugly exposed brickwork. For the floor, I'm going to buy some cheap rugs or throws. These can be got from most bargain shops for about £10. I'm simply going to cover up the floor with them, making it more comfortable to walk on. Throws make excellent temporary rugs, although they are not hard wearing, they cover up the floor! I hope that these relatively cheap coverings will turn my building site into a proper Christmassy room, and t
hat it will be a Christmas to remember for my friends and their children. I just have to figure out what to do with my kitchen now...I wonder if tinsel looks good wrapped around copper pipes?!
In recent times, the old glittery stars, baubles and tinsel which used to be all the rage when I was a girl, have been overtaken, in the most fashionable houses, by home-made decorations made from recycled materials, foodstuffs and the most unusual natural materials. Here are some ideas to utilise in your own home this Christmas. By using all sorts of materials readily available in the home and garden, you can start afresh every year too, with a different set of decorations, or with a new theme every time. The other great aspect to making your own decorations is the cost! Usually, shop bought ones are so outrageously expensive that you end up using the same ones year in, year out, simply because it is far too costly to replace them every time. Have you ever thought about the potential in those plastic juice bottles with the ridges all the way down? No? Well I have a way to use them. You will need some relief outliner paint which is readily accessible in art and craft shops, in whatever colours you prefer; Wash out the bottles. Cut into squares or rectangles (with the ridges going accross-ways). Using different colours of relief paint, for example gold, silver, black or even bright colours, draw designs onto the plastic. Leave to dry completely. Using a bradall or scissor end, pierce a hole in the top of each decoration and thread string or cord through. Another good way to design tree decorations is by using small essential oil, or perfume oil bottles. To make these little ‘lanterns’ you will need glass paint; Take the labels off the bottles and wash in hot soapy water, inside and out. Wrap some fuse wire round the neck of the bottles and make into loops for hanging. Replace the lids. Using the glass paints, make squiggles, dots or lines on the surface of the bottles. Alternatively use a tiny sponge and dab the colours on, merging together where they meet. Leave to dry. Did you know that you can make the most gorg
eous garlands for your tree with ordinary household string and toilet paper? Not convinced? Well, OK, you do need some water colour paints and gold or silver spray paint too ..... but that’s it! Here’s how you make them; Wrap toilet tissue round and round a fine knitting needle. You must do this randomly, and make it thicker in some places than others; in fact the more random the better. Keep wrapping until you have a ball wrapped round the needle of around 12-15 cms. Then dunk the whole thing in water and squeeze out the excess. You will be left with a soggy ‘lump’ around the needle. Slide it off and brush with a layer of the PVA. Leave to dry. Make as many of these ‘lumps’ as you like to make the length of garland you need. It is best to leave them overnight so the inside can dry out as well as the outer layer. When dry, paint randomly or splatter with many different colours. Leave to dry. Then when dry place the ‘lumps’ back on the knitting needle and LIGHTLY spray with metallic paint. You will get a beautiful giant lustrous bead. When dry, thread the string through each bead and knot at each side of the beads. Well I hope this has inspired you somewhat? I love to work out ingenious ways to recycle my ‘rubbish’ and making Christmas decorations is an ideal way.
Last year I moved house 3 days before christmas, and the last thing I was worried about was christmas decorations. It didn't even cross my mind that I would need to buy some, so I ended up wih all sorts given by family (and got my tree in a last minute rush). To be quite honest it looked a little tacky, there were all sorts on it, some that looked 100 years old! but that was better than nothing at the time. So this year I have gone out and bought all new christmas decorations. I have found that if you try to stick to 2 maybe 3 colours it looks very nice, and rather expensive looking. My mum has done this for the past 2 years so I decided to give it a try. I bought just blue and silver baubles, and blue and silver tinsel. With a gold star. I think it will look very effective, and a little different to last years tree! Luckily my mother-in-law has a card to get into our local wholesalers so it cost be next to nothing for these decorations. Another good option for decoration is the spray snow, you can have all sorts painted on your windows. Last year we had santa flying over a town. The templates really are very good, and it is easy to use. The only problem with this snow is when you want to remove it!! It is evry hard to clean off but with a bit of elbow grease you'll soon manage it. I think the key to a nice looking room is DON'T overdo it. We used to have all sorts hanging, but have now found if you keep it simple and stick to few colours it will look very sophisticated and very nice. Hope this might help a little. Hope you all have a very merry christmas!!!
Home made decorations are lovely at Christmas, especially if you can get the kids involved too. Here's a few suggestions. Pine Cones. Don't buy the ones in the shops which are priced extortionately. Go for a walk in the woods, pick up your own, bring them home and spray them yourself, adding some glitter if you want to. Decorated Branches. Again take a walk in the woods, find some smallish, twiggy branches (on the ground, don't yank them off a tree!). Take them home and spray them (we did ours silver) then you can fix them on to the wall, maybe above your mantlepiece, with some small tacks and string and then hang some small baubles off them. Believe me it looks really lovely. Snowman. This is a definate for the kids. Get an empty coffee jar, cover it in PVA glue and then stick cotton wool all over it. This makes the body. Then make a white pom pom for the head and just place on top of the body. Cut out some eyes, nose and mouth shapes from card and stick onto pom pom. Find some small buttons and stick on front of body. I also made a cardboard top hat and knitted a small scarf (well I was only 10 at the time!!). Not only will it keep the kids entertained (supervise smaller ones though), but you can lift the head and put sweets into the jar. Useful as well as decorative!! Last one, I know it's really old fashioned but it's a great favourite with the kids - paperchains, need I say more? Have fun and save some money.
and less tacky... To be perfectly honest, I hate christmas shopping. Usually shopping is one of my favourite past-times, being a 15 year old girl, but I cannot stand walking through the centre of town when I'm surrounded by cheap tacky christmas decorations. I really appreciate getting home to a house which is tastefully decorated for christmas. Over the years my family has thought of a number of cheap, simple yet effective decorations. The first thing which goes up is a string of gold stars. These are simply cut out of gold card, strung onto gold thread and attached near-ceiling level (with drawing pins or blue tack) to our family room. A number of years ago we splashed out on some fake-evergreen branches. Some of these go on the mantle piece with some pine-cones sprayed gold, and others twist throught the banisters. We also have an assortment of Christmas tree decorations, most of which we've had for years. Never forget that you traditionally put the decorations up on Christmas Eve for a reason - everyone (under the age of 12) will be running around like madthings through excitement of what Santa's going to bring them, so are going to need something fun and time consuming to do!
I love to make my christmas tree look that extra bit special by adding chocolates and candy onto it. But i have been fed up over the years of getting completely ripped off by the manufatures who make little chocolates with string on that you can tie to the tree. They can charge anything from 99p for eight (more if the name cadbury is emblazoned over it!) to £3 upwards,this is outrageous and so expensive. So i have now wised up and found a much cheaper alternative,this is going to sound obvious and most of you probably already do it already but i thought i would share it anyway so... I always buy a box of celebrations for around the £1.99 mark and then tie the individual sweets with different colours of cotton ie; red cotton for the maltesers (sad aren't i?) etc. Okay so they don't look as pretty as some of the decorations you can buy but they taste great and i think they look great too. Another thing i do is buy the sugar candy sticks and canes, they retail for around 9-15p each in good sweet shops and they really do look old fashioned and lovely on your tree,especially the stripey ones. You can make loads of things for your tree it needn't be time consuming or expensive. All you need is a little imagination and a few little helpers and bob's your uncle. I really enjoy looking at my christmas tree and knowing i made it look pretty myself and without spending much!!
Have just got back from Christmas shopping, trying to get it all done before the big rush, and whilst out I popped into my local Asda store. I was amazed at the range of Decorations that they had and have bought all the decorations that I need from there. They have a wide range of colours, I have gone for gold and red this year and the prices are very competitive. They have hung some of the decorations from the ceiling so you can see what they look like out of the packet, which is a great idea. Just hope I've got some money left, I think I spent £30 on decorations because they were that impressive.
I have just been shopping at Asda, and no joke I spent about 1hr just looking at their decoration range! It is absolutely fantastic, very extensive and more importantly very cheap but expensive looking! They have all shapes and sizes of Angels and stars, pretty doll like ones, china ones, traditional ones, with prices that are amazing! They have beads on strings for as little as 45p for a nice length, if you want longer you will have to fork out 69p. There are table decorations (lovely xmas tree structures made of wire, with stars on) for about £2.99 and bumper packs of baubles at various prices from £2.99 for about 16 or for really glitzy ones £2.99 for 8. There are also stencils for spraying snow scenes they are about £1.29 a pack. There are so many ideas and things to look at I could not possibly mention them all, but really if you have an Asda near, you can't go wrong. Me and my friend went mad saying "oooh I am going to get that and that and that". The cards are lovely and reasonably priced too. Well done Asda - a definate improvement on last year. Oh and give Woolies a miss this year - their range was poor to say the least! Although their gift range is quite sweet.