C&J Blog Article


Christmas is coming! Yup, any minute now...

Party season is looming. Fact. And nothing can be done to slow its arrival. No matter how much you’d like to turn down the gas on the festive boiler, you might as well get used to it; the metaphorical pan is simmering and soon it’ll start to boil. Chances are, if you’re in any way like us, you’re already starting to panic. There’s a house to decorate, a turducken to buy, and you still haven’t tracked down all those last minute pressies.

In your attempts to address the holiday period, you’re probably running around like a headless chicken yet endeavouring, at the same time, to maintain a modicum of composed cool. Cos that’s what we all do, huh? It’s a familiar routine; a hop, skip and scramble through town — with the lightening gate of reindeer — and a frantic dash to get shipshape before granny flies in from Saskatoon (bearing a full compendium of gift-wrapped socks) and Uncle Teddy arrives, chilled to the bone, from Winterpeg.

Worry not! All hail our festive two-parter, composed to smooth your holiday passage. Using our own Glasgow drawing room as illustration, we’ve arranged all the info you need to buy, dress and care for your tree. Next week, to take the stress out of gift wrapping, we’ll jump into present tense (“present tense” — geddit?) and showcase a last-minute festive vignette. As we said, we’ve got it all in hand.

So where were we? Oh yes; festive attire for your tree. We’ve sighed and cried over a hundred-and-one examples of designer affray and feel compelled to cry (yet again): Less is more. The last thing you want is for your tree to look like Santa Claus just lost his lunch across its every surface. Been previously guilty? Restraint, sweeties, restraint.

In the same way that fashion victims drape themselves in this season’s “must haves” (even though this seasons “must haves” simply don’t suit), so too does your tree run the risk of looking clunky if this season’s colour — as decreed by an “expert” — doesn’t happen to compliment your existing decor. For every blue, pink and scarlet hacienda that would have Tammy Faye Bakker running for cover, there’s a restrained option that would be infinitely more seemly.

Our first counsel is to be inspired by that which surrounds you: Your existing colour scheme. Shop for and introduce ornamentation that is compliant with your rear-round scheme. In our drawing room, for example, the decor is largely grey scale with shots of drama arriving courtesy of the ebony baby grand piano and carefully selected gold detailed furniture. Composing our festive embellishment, we added loads of Midas magic; it’s a wonderful shade and compliments pretty much every palette due to its warm undertones.

Anyway, here’s our guide to festive arbory; study it carefully and be hailed as a bastion of balls, baubles and beads and watch as your life becomes more joyous. It’s as simple as that; you really can become a better person courtesy of tinsel’s healing power. OK, OK, so perhaps psychological enhancement is pushing it, but you get the gist.

Selecting your tree

If possible, chose a pine or fir (rather than Norway spruce which tends to shed more quickly) and, before buying, give your branched beauty a good shake to ensure its needles are tightly attached. Last thing you need is for your less than verdant lovely to resemble a Tim Burton film prop within moments of getting it home.

Close crop

In the same way that fresh flowers should be trimmed, so too should your tree be freshened by lobbing a couple of inches from the bottom. Here’s the science part; severed trunks that come into contact with air can effectively seal over, thereby making it difficult for the hygroscopic process to occur. Phew. Did we lose you there for a moment? A tall tree will guzzle as much as a pint of water each day so keep an eye on levels throughout the entire holiday period.

Branching out

If you have an artificial tree, tweak, prod and pull the branches into the best possible shape. Spending a little time is really important as you’re effectively creating the stage upon which your spangle will shine. Similarly, if you have a real tree, shake it to separate the branches and then trim off any irregularities. However don’t scalp it ala Barber of Seville; just give it wee “do” to neaten proceedings.

Ring of confidence

A decorative floor skirt is a nice finishing touch if you have an artificial tree on a shallow cross-frame base. That said, don’t feel you have to buy something ready made and therefore pricey. Instead, buy a section of felt the same width as the diameter of your tree and cut from this a large circle. Snip a cross into the middle and place over the tree frame, then put the stem through the hole and into the cross frame. Dress the perimeter with wrapped presents and gifts to achieve neat results.

Mist opportunity

Before decorating your tree, spray with needle drop inhibitor (garden centres carry this) or try Fresh Cut Scent Christmas Tree Preservative by Santa’s Solution (find it in Home Depot for approximately $3). Simply add to the water in which your tree sits. If (and only if) your tree doesn’t have lights, mist with water to help preserve moisture levels, but ensure plug sockets are properly protected.

Initial success

When dressing your tree, whether real or artificial, a little order goes a long, long way so remember LTB, our trusty festive acronym.

 • Lights: Start by placing lights on the lower branches and then weave across and up towards the centre before moving to the top. Examine the tree with the lights on (and room lights off) to spot dark patches and adjust accordingly.

 • Tinsel: The second stage of tree decorating should find you “doing a Judy,” or, in other words, getting your garland on. Working behind and in front of the lights, position in a twisting helter skelter movement throughout the branches.

 • Balls: Don’t just hang baubles on branch tips; try placing ornaments “inside” your tree to add depth and interest; in our opinion it simply looks better when branches are fully laden.

Mix it up

In the same way an Armani jacket and a Le Chateau shirt can combine, so too can expensive and inexpensive baubles make for a successful pairing. But, of course, it’s all in the mix; start by arranging less expensive choices evenly across your tree, then place special gems where they can be seen to best effect.

Tip-top tailoring

Don’t forget your tree topper. A sparkling angel will lend a traditional feel but a peaked bauble or star (or even a gilded pine cone) can look just as fabulous. Whatever you choose, though, make sure it’s not too heavy or you’ll end up with serious treetop droop. And nobody wants that.

Finally, check your tree for squirrels and chipmunks, an army of whom (for all you know) may have secreted themselves within your divinely decorated branches. Last thing you want is to dash downstairs, on Christmas morning, only to find a gaggle of furry friends nibbling your nuts and pulling your festive cracker. That would be wrong on so many party counts, n’est pas?

So there you have it, festive fans, it’s a wrap. Until next week, of course, when we’ll have more (w)rapping techniques than a Santa-hatted Eminem on a sherry fuelled bender. Enjoy!


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