Ways to decorate a Christmas tree
This is one of those days that many of us have in our mental calendar. The day that our children eagerly anticipate and we enjoy once the tree is either down from the loft or in the house out of the car. Yes, its the yearly ‘put up a tree in our house’, tradition. What better than to look at the different ways to decorate a Christmas tree?
Every household have their own tradition but most are just slight variations on the traditional. Whether your tree is real, fake, small, big, natural green or spray painted silver, its still a tree. We still gather with a variety of loved ones and wrap sparkly plastic and glass baubles around it, whilst wearing something that shouts ‘Christmas’. However we do it, the ‘vibe’ and intention is the same.
Origin of the Christmas tree
This tradition was started in the 16th century by the Germans. The evergreen tree was specifically used as it is seen as a sign of everlasting life with god by protestants. To make it more attractive, it was decorated with edible goodies such as apples, nuts and dates and also with paper flowers, most likely made by children. The first Christmas tree in the UK was most likely initiated by Queen Charlotte, who was raised in Germany. For a party meant for children of noble families, she instructed a tree by placed indoors and decorated. Of course, this then became a tradition amongst rich families.
Over time, this became a fixed ritual, filtering down to the other classes with the only thing changing being the decorations. The Victorians had a risky way to decorate Christmas trees as they used candles that represented stars which unsurprisingly resulted in a fair few fires. By contrast, Germany, in the 19th century went through a stage of including nativity scenes at the foot of the tree.
Christmas tree decorations
Tinsel made of thin strands of beaten silver was a tradition also started by the Germans. Rich Germans, I’m thinking! After plastic was invented, this was substituted as a far cheaper alternative. Lightbulbs as decorations began at the beginning of the 20th century and could be rented instead of bought but this was also fairly costly. This was the same time that artificial trees became popular. My tree, for the last few years has been artificial. I love seeing big, real decorated Christmas trees when I am out but do not want to have to deal with the mess myself. Let along the cost of buying a new one each year.
So over time, we can see the evolution of a Christmas tree and how we have ended up with the popular, heavily decorated, not much to do with religion, tree we have in our houses now at Christmas time. For most of us, it is a ritual that dates back to our childhood and this time of year would just not be the same without it. Without a tree, we cannot have the symbolic ‘decorating the tree ceremony’. Where do we put the presents? Without a tree, where would the annual family photo be taken? The living lights would have to stay on when dusk approaches, rather than just turning on the glittering, flashing, colored lights that adorn our trees. Safe to say, having a tree in our house at Christmas is as much a part of Christmas as is a roast dinner, presents or the festive sweater.
Many ways to decorate a Christmas tree
So, as the 1st December is here, my thoughts turn to the fun part – the decorating. In my small household, this is done by both myself and my son. Although my son for the last two years has insisted on doing the tinsel by himself. With a rather strange, bulbous finished look, I think it is the best it has ever looked. My son takes control, enjoys participating and it is yet another harmonious memory created.
So how and who decorates your tree? Do you do it by yourself? Is it you and your partner? Or do you have children that help or an extended or blended family? Whatever your situation, this tradition can be a joyous blessing but can also be one that highlights or accentuates your situation. I love the first few years of precious memories, as my son was old enough to help decorate it but felt sad after after loosing my daughter as she was not there to participate. There was anger for my sons first Christmas after his father walked out but now, I once again feel peace and joy at having the experience with my son. This has indeed come full circle for me. Whatever your situation, if you decide to have a tree this year, decorate it with love. If you are by yourself, you can place baubles wherever you want them and put the lights on whenever it suits you. Are you a couple? This is a moment to share together. If you have children, it will become another precious memory of their childhood that will be treasured by you and them.
So, back to the beginning. What type of tree to get? I’m pretty sure my parents did not have a clue as to the varieties of real evergreen trees there were. Ours was bought based on size and price. But nowadays, it is popular to know your varieties and choose based on this. The choice is wide, from the Fraser Fir, which is probably the most popular choice with its silvery green needles that are not too sharp, the Noble Fir, which are often the tallest available, to the Colorado Spruce, which has strong branches capable of holding heavy decorations. If you want to choose a certain type of tree, best to do your research first. Which I have included here.
What to use when decorating a Christmas tree?
Next, we need to choose the decorations. Most people have a selection built up over years and may add one or two new ones each year. However, if you are designing from scratch, it helps to know what type of look you are going for. Sleek, chic, minimalist, colorful, covered. Whatever your preference, there is a selection of decorations for you.
For that extra special, buy once a year decoration you could head to Fortnum and Mason in central London. A department store worth visiting even with no intention to buy. To buy online, visit here. Its decorations are unique and meant to provide memories along with the somewhat hefty price tag! If you are shopping online, the reliable Amazon will not fail for variety and quick delivery. Products vary from the staple baubles and tinsel to decorations specifically for this year. To view a selection of types, prices and shops to visit, browse here.
How to decorate your tree like a professional
Finally, we have the order of decorations that will adorn your tree. I have to say this is something that varies wildly within my household and normally depends on which box comes out first. However, there is apparently an order to how it should be dressed.
Firstly, you need to design your theme. This will be especially relevant if you are buying a number of new decorations this year. Next, ‘fluff’ up those branches. This is definitely one for me – my artificial tree is hidden in its box all year and once taken out, the branches definitely groan in protest at having to relinquish the shape they have been squashed into. Once suitably ‘fluffed’, take out the lights. Plug them in, then start wrapping from the base of the tree all the way up, then down again making sure some lights are on top of the branch and some underneath.
Lastly comes the fun part. Hang larger baubles near the middle of the tree and smaller ones on the ends of the branches. Delicate ones should be placed near the top then lastly carefully hang the special ones. These hold more memories and should be visible to yourself and a visitor.
Mostly – please have fun!
This is the start of the Christmas season and is a fun activity that can be enjoyed by both children and adults together. Switch off your computer, put down your phone and join in. Create a Christmas with the family memory that will last forever, for all of you. My son and I are now back home at the end of the day. He is doing homework and I am finishing writing. Once we have both done, all gadgets will be turned off and it will be ‘our’ time. I put the tree together, he fluffs the branches. He puts on the lights and we place the decorations together. All to the sound of Christmas carols and us talking. This is one of my favorite rituals at this cold time of year and something that binds us together.
If you have enjoyed reading this and are in the Christmas spirit, why not find some inventive ways to enjoy Christmas with children? It’s packed with fantastic tips for you all. By the end, you will have your Christmas tree decorated and family entertained sorted all in one sitting.
I hope you enjoy yours!