Top tips for choosing, caring and styling the perfect Christmas tree
Are you putting up your Christmas tree this weekend? Perhaps your house was covered in tinsel and baubles the moment Halloween was over?
Traditionally of course, people didn’t put up their tree until Christmas Eve, and took it down on the Twelfth Night, but it seems most of us now make the move at the beginning of December.
In fact, Saturday 8th December is the busiest day in the UK for buying a real tree, according to Dobbies Garden Centre.
And to celebrate the first official ‘Bring your Christmas Tree Home Day’, designer Lee Jackson and gardening expert Louise Golden, share their step-by-step plan for styling the perfect tree.
How to pick your tree
The height is very important, obviously, but the width is often the dimension that catches people out. Why not take a length of string to the exact height of the space you wish to fill along to choose your tree, this is a great way of assessing the height when choosing a tree from a very large selection and a tad less clumsy that getting out a retractable tape measure!
Test the needle retention
Take the tree by the trunk and tap it on the ground. All evergreen needles lose needles all year round, but if too many fall off you might want to reconsider. A shiny, glossy green coating on the needles shows you instantly how healthy the tree is.
There’s no place like home
Un-net your tree and leave it to stand for 24 hours before decorating so that the branches can settle into place. Make sure it gets enough water - your tree will need approximately 1-2 litres a day, depending on they temperature of the room.
Let it snow
If you want to spray the tree with a little spray, now is the time. Don’t do it after the decorations and particularly the lights have been added as the spray snow can clog the twinkle. Give the snow a full 30 minutes to dry before proceeding.
Hide the base
There may be a period of a few weeks before gifts are added, so hiding the base is essential. My most used items for this job are a tweed throw (or similar) draped over the base, a stack of rustic logs, a hessian sack for the base to sit in and decorated with a large bow, a large log basket or some empty, wrapped parcels to start things off. These can also be used to hide any wires or plugs.
Shape it up
Don’t be afraid to clip any wayward branches and if you do have any bald spots clip a branch of two from the back of the tree and tie to the trunk with twine or dark floristry wire. I sometimes use faux foliage, such as lengths of ivy, sprigs of eucalyptus or similar to beef up the shape, should the tree need it.
Add the lights
Check you are near a power source and it is easy to access to switch on and off. Always check the lights work and they are the correct colour before adding. I favour brilliant, white lights for silver and frosty looks and warm white lights for gold’s and woody tones. I think lights are best applied to the tree when the lights are switched on. Try to make the lights visible and the wires as invisible as possible - this can be created with the light at the tip of the branch and the wire in a ‘U’ shape as far back as possible. I always add at least three sets per tree.
Deck the halls
I arrange the baubles on a blanket on the floor in rough colour and size order. The general rule is the larger the bauble, the lower it features. I also tend to add the baubles in pairs of the same type to ensure they feature as far apart as possible to avoid clusters of the same decorations. Plain baubles can be given a luxury treatment by removing their wire or thread and replacing with wide loops of satin ribbon.
Top it off
The ceremonious topping of the tree, and switching on the lights is a must. Get everyone seated and use this occasion to toast the upcoming season, absent friends and let the celebrations begin.
Recycle your tree
Once we have welcomed the New Year and it’s time to wave goodbye to the festive season, you can put your tree to good use by recycling it. Check with your local council for more information on collection services from your doorstep. If you opted for a pot-grown Christmas tree, remember to plant it as soon as possible in January so you can enjoy the following year. Select a spot that has well drained soil, sun, and enough space for the tree to sit comfortably. Then all you need to do is keep the tree watered and protected.