It’s getting to about that time of year when we need to start thinking about decking the halls. I know, I know. You don’t want to hear it, but Christmas is once again fast approaching and bringing all the stresses of the holiday season with it. Where has this year gone?
Without a doubt, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the most hectic. If we’re not braving the high street amid a horde of other angry shoppers, we’re faffing over Christmas dinner. And just when it all begins to settle down again, it’s time to start all over again. Maybe it’s just me, but the year doesn’t seem as long as it used to be.
So, you have your checklist at the ready. Turkey, booze, presents. But what about the decorations? Amidst the rest of the chaos, the decorations can often be overlooked, but they shouldn’t be. To me, the Christmas decorations represent the calm before the storm. There’s something therapeutic about being surrounded by flashing fairy lights. Or the way the light catches the star on top of the tree. Maybe it’s the constant reminder of all that is good about this time of year. It evokes memories of being around your family and enjoying what is supposed to be a time for celebration. So, instead of stressing about it, get yourself prepared well in advance. Here’s my guide of Christmas essentials:
The main event. This is the centrepiece of your Christmas – where the presents lie in wait for the big day. Nothing represents Christmas quite like the tree, does it? But there’s so much to consider! Baubles or candy canes? Tinsel or fairy lights? All of the above? Don’t even get me started on the authentic vs. artificial debate. I prefer going artificial. It’s cheaper in the long run, and you aren’t left picking up pine needles for weeks after the fact! But if you just can’t live without that authentic Christmas smell, go real if you can afford to replace your tree every year. I wish I could! If you’re strapped for cash, check out my guide to saving money on your Christmas tree.
What do you decorate it with? Is it worth hauling that battered old box of ornaments from the loft, or is it time to invest in some new ones? If you’re really a step ahead of the curve, you could even pick out some new decorations a year in advance. The Christmas aisle will be filled with reduced prices after the big day. Remember, if you go real, you also need to pick up a stand and skirt for the tree. Otherwise, it’s just standard fare. Tinsel, fairy lights, baubles and the like. Chances are you’ve already got them knocking around.
Around the House
Maybe I’m a little too house proud at times, but when it comes to Christmas, I like to go all out. On the coffee table, the potpourri gets replaced by a dish filled with all kinds of festive goodies. Think pine cones, fake cranberries and such. Anything that invokes the spirit of Christmas. No wonder I’m stressed by it! I just like to make the whole house feel festive, so the room is filled with artificial mantel too. By the fireplace, I like to keep candles lit. You can even get them scented to really give you that Christmas feeling. The staircase (or bannister, more specifically) doesn’t escape either. I like to drape tinsel over it. There’s no better feeling than waking up on a cold December morning and being greeted with festive cheer as you groggily head down the stairs. It’s a perk up that rivals any coffee in the world.
We have stockings hanging above the fireplace every year. I guess I’m just a traditionalist. We’ve had custom stockings embroidered with our names for a few years now. It doesn’t sound like anything too special, but it really serves as a reminder that Santa is coming to town. Other things you might want to consider are; nativity scene, table runner and dishware.
We all complain about that one family that goes too far every year, don’t we? You know the type. They end up short-circuiting the whole street. I’m not suggesting for a second that you go that far, but sometimes garden decorations are very pleasant. I know that after a long drive home from a rough day, it’s a welcoming sight. Keep it classy, though. We usually just stick to a wreath on the front door, but I’ve seen a couple of ideas in the area that are really beautiful. If you have a tree on your front lawn, try wrapping it in white fairy lights. It’s not at all obnoxious and gives the impression of snow in the tree.
I’ve even seen a Christmas light projector before. These machines give you your own personal little light show and it’s not as obtrusive as it sounds. Celebration King has a review of their top five high-end models, if that’s something you’re interested in. Otherwise, keep it simple, maybe with a few small garden figures.
Also, remember, remember, remember! Pick up your wrapping paper well in advance. You don’t want the day you decide to go to town to be the day they finally run out. Don’t leave your wrapping to the last minute (I’ve been guilty of that myself). It won’t be such a chore if you spread it out in the weeks building up to the big day. Remember to pick up one of those selection boxes of Christmas cards and nominate a member of the family to deliver them to your neighbours. You’ll need to stock up on plenty of extension cables, and you’ll probably run up a fairly generous energy bill. But hey, it’s Christmas! It comes but once a year, and we like to make the most of it. After all, there isn’t quite another day that brings as much joy as Christmas, is there?