One of my all-time favourite activities is trimming the Christmas tree!
I have been collecting Christmas baubles for years now, slowly adding to my collection with special pieces from around the world and around town.
From the start, I decided to have a general theme to my collection, so that the tree would look good in my home, but also so that relatives and friends who wanted to buy me a decoration would have some idea of how to fit in with my tastes.
Christmas decorations make lovely, thoughtful, inexpensive and frivolous gifts for just about anyone, so there’s an option for a stash of gifts for loved ones! Here are some tips for you to consider:
- Make dressing the tree a family activity – bite the bullet, invite the kids, and try not to fuss when they put things up differently to how you would (you can always shift things around a bit after bedtime – oops! Did I say that?). Bring out the champagne with your friends, and make a celebration of it!
- Consider the layout of the tree. Lights first, inner branches, outer branches and the top. Plan to put your largest, heaviest ornaments toward the base of the tree, and the daintier, lighter ones to the top.
- Fairy lights! Aaargh! Who hasn’t got at least one half-dead set of these lying around the house somewhere, lacking a bulb? First rule of thumb – when you buy your fairy lights, buy lots of spare bulbs! The manufacturers have got you here, because the spare bulbs cost nearly as much as the string, but they change style often so buy lots that match your string, and keep them with your decorations, or the ‘light-bulb’ section of your very-organised garage.
- Unwind the lights before you start, turn them on, and check for blown bulbs. You will find that if one has gone, usually a length of 10 is ‘out’. Begin methodically, and take out the first dead light in the row and replace with the new bulb. If this doesn’t result in the string coming on, take the bulb you removed, and swap it for the next one in the line. You will know when you have come across the culprit, because when you have replaced it, the whole run will come alive! A wonderful feeling. Lights go on the tree first, because it’s almost impossible to conceal their wires afterwards.
- Choose your decorations with colour in mind. If you know you have 20 red cherries, distribute them over the tree. If you have 6 magenta baubles, place them in careful randomness over the branches. If Aunty Eliza has given you an ‘unusual’ decoration from another planet, well, trees have to be decorated all the way around, even at the back, don’t they? (I will get a bad reputation if I keep this up!).
- Put your most glorious baubles in the most divine, obvious places, but be aware of children running past and don’t let your antique glass heirloom dangle near a thoroughfare over a tiled floor – guaranteed tears!
- I have limited my collection to silver, gold, electric blue/purple and red, with some variations in between. I can’t be too…’particular’…because that seems, well, a little scary, but it does pay to have a colour scheme in mind, as this will unify the potential random nature of tree decorating.
- Dispense with any ragged, broken or overly plastic pieces when you can, and replace them with your treasures. Be organised, but not too ruthless. This is one area of the home where it pays to loosen up a little (or, so people tell me…).
- The angel is last, of course, your crowning glory (get those corks popping.!.)
- If you haven’t got a tree? No problems. Find yourself some interesting branches, spray them white and voila! Or, simply hang a collection of baubles from the ceiling at various points in your home with thumb tacks and fishing wire. Tiny holes in the plasterwork will go unnoticed afterwards, and it’s so easy! Make sure they’re not really heavy or, crash!
- Still have some left over? Baubles look divine wrapped around Christmas pressies, and add to the gift for the recipient. They also look terrific around table napkins or on dinner tables. Inexpensive, good-looking ornaments are so available these days, use them with abandon!
- Finally, when it’s all over, take a deep breath, and pack them away. At this point, all of Santa’s little helpers will have mysteriously disappeared – so, it’s probably all up to you (and probably just as well…).
- Purchase several storage containers – one or two large and several smaller ones for individual groups of decorations. Use rectangular, lidded containers, preferably clear so that you can easily see what’s inside them. Keep any boxes or packaging that comes with your decorations so that you can re-pack them safely.
- Arm yourself with acres of white tissue-paper, to wrap your baubles in separately, to protect them from each other.
- Wrap each bauble separately, and place the heaviest, most robust ones at the bottom of the storage boxes. Use their proprietary packaging where appropriate, and take your time. The most precious ornaments break if you breathe on them, so look out for special containers to house them in. I find old sunglasses containers are strong and protective. Package strings of beads, tinsel etc. separately, or you will just end up with foil soup and frustration! Think about next year, and the joy that you will have in opening your cherished, organised and unbroken collection for another year, because this activity make take an hour or two!