Putting Up Your Tree
In the past, Christmas trees weren’t to be brought into the house or decorated until Christmas eve. Of course, these days things are much different, with some eager beavers putting their trees up in November. However, if you’re going for the real deal this year and getting a classic fir, putting a tree up at the start of advent will likely mean it will have shed most of its needles by the time Christmas Day rolls around. The British Christmas Tree Growers Association say the ideal time to buy your tree is around the third week of advent (mid December).
Etiquette expert William Hanson agrees – he told Fabulous Online he was “mortified” that the Royal Family already have their trees up in Buckingham Palace: “There is a correlation, I think, between how sophisticated a household is and when they put their tree up… Generally, we would say from December 17 onward and that goes back to the Church of England.”
When To Take Your Tree Down
Tradition dictates that Christmas decorations should stay up until Twelfth Night – AKA, 5th January. According to the Church of England, Twelfth Night refers to the “night before Epiphany, the day when the three wise men visited Jesus”. But while some might follow this rule, Epiphany is actually on the 6th January – which, if we’re being really picky, is actually a day late.
Go For The Real Deal
Hanson says if you’re thinking about getting a plastic tree, don’t: “[There are] degrees of hideousness when it comes to fake trees. A green fake tree is (just about) better than one of a different colour. The rule is: the further away from green it is, the more common it is. Thus: pink and white trees - awful… And don’t waste your time with minimalist trees - a bauble on a twig is not a Christmas tree, and books artistically piled into a tree shape smacks of too much free time.”
He also notes that, even though plastic trees are available to put up earlier because they’re everlasting, everyone will know it’s plastic for that reason exactly – real firs would die before Christmas day if put up too early. So, if you’re going to stick with your trusty plastic tree, try and blend in with those who got the real thing by putting it up mid-December.
Although the first day of December feels close enough to Christmas to adorn our homes with baubles and tinsel, Hanson advises not to get too overzealous – otherwise you’ll appear “common”: “For those who wish to remain socially desirable - but who get excited at the first sight of a pair of low hanging baubles - this year they can safely get away with decorating anytime from Sunday 17th December. Anything earlier is common.”
The days we threw just any old decorations on the tree are long gone – Hanson says the way we get our home in the festive spirit has to be well thought out and must follow a theme. For example, avoid multicoloured fairy lights, use only white ones and never – never – hang tinsel in your home. “For those with any taste whatsoever, tinsel remains the antichrist,” Hanson says. In the 17th century, tinsel used to be made from strands of real silver, and if you have any of that lying around in the Christmas decorations box in the attic, he says that’ll work just fine…
John Lewis assistant buyer Scott Bartle advises: "Spend 45 minutes putting your tree together and fluffing the branches to give it that full and authentic look. It's all in the preparation. If you've fluffed your tree and the lights are even, you can't go wrong."
He adds that when it comes to the lights on your tree, go by the ethos that more is more: “We recommend at least 170 lights per metre of tree," he says. "That's the absolute minimum. Personally, I'd put 1,000 lights on a 6ft tree. The more the better." He advises that you should choose a colour scheme, and buy your decorations in multiples of three to give your tree balance.
The general consensus for a tree topper is always go with a star as your first option - the star represents the Star of Bethlehem, which guided the Three Kings to baby Jesus.
Unfortunately, not all of us can make like Kensington pub The Churchill Arms and cover the outside of our homes with 21,500 fairy lights during the festive period. But a small smattering of lights outside are ok if they’re tasteful (again, only white says Hanson) and you’re respectful to the people around you – if you decide to shroud your house in Christmas lights, turn them off at a decent time of night so you don’t distract your neighbours or stop anyone from sleeping. If you do decorate outside, lighting specialists Festive Lights say you should drape your lights for maximum effect – and ensure that you use a weatherproof connection box to house the outdoor connections.
And of course, if you’re going to get a wreath for your door, get yourself the real thing – accept no imitations here, because it’ll be the first thing people see.