Christmas Tree: Decoration, Lights and the Festive Season
Christmas Trees are an essential part of most British Christmases. Decked out in colourful decorations and lights, there's something wonderful about a Christmas Tree that creates a festive atmosphere, which is why we Brits purchase around 8 million naturally growing trees every year, as well as millions more artificial trees.
With lots of costs in the festive season for food and plenty of presents to buy, saving money at Christmas is important. This buyer's guide will explain how to cut the cost of decorating your home, leaving extra funds to make other aspects of Christmas extra-special.
The celebration of midwinter by cutting down and decorating trees probably dates back thousands of years, but the modern custom begins in Germany and the Baltic States in the 16th century. In ports around the coast, guilds got together to erect trees which they decorated to mark the festive season, a custom that gradually caught on all over northern Europe.
Helped on by the spread of Protestantism (Protestants saw Catholic Nativity cribs as an example of idolatry, but were fine with decorating trees), the aristocracy soon embraced the custom, publicly lighting trees in cities like Vienna. By the 1800s, Brits had got in on the action. As far as we know, the Royal House of Hanover spearheaded the trend, and by the 1850s, middle-class families were catching on.
As anyone who has seen a Hollywood Christmas movie will know, Americans also embraced tree decorations. 1923 saw the first Whitehouse Christmas tree being decorated, while back in London, Trafalgar Square's tree was introduced after World War Two – a gift from the Norwegian people to remember Britain's help in liberating them from Nazi Germany.
These days, Christmas trees are everywhere, from churches to schools and, of course, the front rooms of millions of homes.
What Constitutes the Perfect Christmas Tree?
So, you want to pull off the perfect Christmas. In that case, picking the right tree and accessories is an absolute must.
First up, pick the right species of fir or spruce. Britain's most popular tree remains the Norwegian Spruce, but this species drops its needles fairly quickly when potted, so you may want to opt for something with more resilience. The Nordman Fir is a great alternative which should be freely available in supermarkets and garden centres.
After that, you'll need to choose a way to support your tree. A stand is the best option, and it's also advisable to pick one that suits the diameter of your tree's truck (not to cut the tree to fit the stand, as many people do).
A topper comes next. This is the first decoration that people see when they catch sight of your tree, and it needs to be beautiful. Not massive though, as this will unbalance the look (and structure) of the tree. Stores like John Lewis, Paperchase and Debenhams are strong in this area, with some lovely star or angel designs that will do the job admirably.
Now, get the watering right. No-one wants their tree to start wilting (or die) before Christmas Day, so water regularly, adding around a litre of water for every inch of your tree's stem diameter. After that, top it up to maintain the same water level if possible, and never let the base of the tree become exposed.
Finally, you'll need to decorate the rest of the tree. There are plenty of options here, which we'll come to in a second.
The Different Types of Christmas Tree Available
These days, the Christmas Tree market is pretty diverse, with plenty of natural and artificial options. Here are some types you'll probably come across:
Spruce – The classic British tree is a Norwegian Spruce which has that lovely Christmasy smell. On the downside, its needles drop quickly and they tend to be a little spiky, which can be a problem if your children want to help with hanging decorations. A good spruce alternative is Blue Spruce, which has an attractive blue-green colour and holds its needles for longer.
Firs – Nowadays, firs tend to be more popular than spruces in many countries. Breeders have created new varieties which hardly lose a single needle (cutting back on sweeping and vacuuming). The Nordmann Fir is top of the tree, so to speak, but it lacks the enchanting aroma of a Norwegian Spruce. The Fraser Fir is another option, with long needle drop times and a lovely scent.
Pines – The Lodgepole Pine and the Scots Pine are excellent alternatives to spruces and firs. The Scots Pine is attractive and native to the UK but has spiky needles that some may find less appealing. The Lodgepole Pine is very different, with a bushy appearance and softer, thicker needles.
Plastic Christmas trees – If you want a tree that you can get out of the cupboard every year without traipsing down to the garden centre, an artificial tree makes perfect sense. You'll find (almost) life-like spruces and firs for sale, often at prices that compare favourably to natural trees. As you can usually reuse them, artificial trees represent a great way to save money.
Pop-up trees – Some artificial trees actually fold down to really compact storage packs and can be popped up when December rolls around. They may not be as realistic, but they are certainly convenient for people with smaller living spaces.
LED-tipped trees – This kind of tree doesn't try to imitate a bushy pine or fir. Instead, it keeps the form of the tree but uses thin leaf-less limbs that are tipped with LED bulbs, creating an attractive festive glow.
If you already have a plastic tree and are thinking about getting rid of it because you need extra cupboard space, there's another thing to consider: Christmas tree storage bags. Plenty of companies sell specialist bags which fit normal artificial trees and make storing them much more space efficient.
Decoration Ideas for Your Christmas Tree
When you've picked the kind of tree you want, it's time to move onto decorations. Here's where your creativity shines, and you show off your Christmas bargain hunting abilities. Options include:
Stars – As a Christmas tree topper, nothing quite beats a star. Intended to symbolise the star which guided the three wise men to Bethlehem, stars are the perfect way to round off the perfect Christmas tree design.
Baubles – These days, there's a huge range of baubles on offer, from classic red, gold and silver shiny designs, to frost encrusted designs, transparent crystal baubles and much, much more. You can find boutique baubles and other hanging decorations at stores like Liberty or Harrods, or shop for beautiful budget options at B&Q, Asda or Argos.
Lights – It's possible to create a gorgeous tree without employing a few fairy lights here and there, but it's not easy because lights are an essential part of what many people see as the classic Christmas tree design. They tend to come in reels of lights connected in series, but it's worth buying more expensive lights which clearly tell you when a bulb has gone (and don't all fail when this happens). More expensive variations can also add effects like flashing, colour changes and fades, which many people find pleasing.
Tinsel – Originally intended to mimic the appearance of ice, tinsel now comes in almost every colour imaginable. But don't go overboard. Use it sparingly, accenting the foliage of your tree and your other decorations and filling in gaps. A good idea is to hang a few strands of lametta (very fine tinsel) here and there. What you want to avoid is a tree that is smothered in shiny tinsel, with just a few strands of green still visible.
Artificial snow – If you want to create a Disney-style Christmas tree (and imagine celebrating a White Christmas) investing in a canister of artificial snow is essential. An alternative to buying an aerosol spray is to purchase a bag or two on eBay, and there are even recipes online telling you how to make your own.
Skirts – The base of your tree can sometimes look a little unsightly (stands aren't usually made with aesthetics in mind). However, with an attractive wood or wicker skirt, you can make the base as visually appealing as the topper.
Christmas Tree Reindeer Decoration DIY
How to Buy a Cheap Christmas Tree
As we mentioned earlier, purchasing a tree, all of the accessories you'll need to care for it and a range of beautiful decorations can become an expensive exercise, so it helps to save money wherever you can. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to do just that.
Firstly, if you really want to save money, think about ditching natural trees and going for a well-made artificial tree this year. Over five years or so, it will easily have paid for itself, even if the initial cost seems fairly high. Don't go for a cheap plastic tree, as these tend to become easily damaged in storage. Think about getting a storage bag too. It might avoid damage, ensuring you won't need to buy another tree next year.
Secondly, try to shop out of season. Not many people do this, but shopping after Christmas for next year's decorations is a smart move. Sure, it's not a great time to find Christmas tree offers (well, natural ones at least), but the January Sales are the best time to grab cut-price stars, lights, tinsel and other decorations.
If you have left it until late November of December, don't panic. You can find the best Christmas tree deals by checking the hotukdeals Christmas tree listings. Whether you need to get hold of a spruce, fir or pine, or you are hunting for a deluxe artificial model, you'll find trees from major retailers like B&Q, Tesco, Wyevale, Argos and many, many more companies. Shop around and you're bound to find a festive saving that can then be spent on extra gifts.
Save this Seaon with the Christmas Tree Offers at hotukdeals
Christmas is a special time of year, and Christmas trees are a key part of the festive mix. If you want to create the best Christmas decorations ensemble ever, there will be plenty of discounts on offer at the hotukdeals Christmas Tree listings, where natural trees will be joined by their artificial counterparts and hundreds of decorations too.
Posted 7th MarPosted 7th Mar
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