The first Saturday in December.
Like clockwork my Christmas tree always goes up on the first Saturday of December. It’s a ritual I’m very particular about and I take it very seriously. I’m going to warn you of this from the get go.
The week leading up to Saturday I begin to dust off the decorations from their resting place beneath the bed and take stock of what, if anything, needs to be replaced or added to. Most of you will more than likely now be over the shock of discovering my tree doesn’t consist of white decorations, but rather a sort of clash of any kind of burnished metal I’ve been able to lay my hands on. If this is brand new information for you, head to my blog post on baubles and decorations here.
I would tend to think of myself as a minimalist who occasionally dabbles in the idea of a very mild and strictly moderated form of excess. This dabbling happens rarely and you’ll most likely see it appear in the way of clusters of vases or candles, or in the volume of cushions I pile onto my relatively modest sofa. At Christmas however it surfaces much more prominently. Whilst my Christmas decorations perhaps aren’t too minimal, I’m going to confess that I do actually remove a lot of other objects from my rooms over the period to make everything feel a bit less cluttered. Clutter unnerves me. Vases, candle holders and even books find themselves packed away into large boxes and slid unceremoniously beneath the bed for the festive period.
At Christmas I also find myself making an unusual journey into a style that’s a little bit more traditional than I might normally go for. For me, the tree has to be real. I appreciate I have the luxury of not having the worry of whether an animal or child will send it flying, but fake tress just don’t do it for me. Too uniform in their appearance and unnatural in their silhouette; I just can’t substitute them for a real one. You can’t take the smell of the pine needles that will invariably find themselves attached to everything you own, although Jo Malone London definitely do a good job at trying.
As Saturday the 2nd of December arrived I was pretty giddy and entirely unashamed. Having spent the evening prior rearranging my living room to make way for its arrival, I was all set. On my way home I’d called in to purchase some mince pies (a mid-decorating coffee break essential) and a new blade for my saw. Last year – after my local farm shop sold sold the last 6ft tree despite my reservation – I ended up with a 9ft tree that required an hour’s worth of sawing to simply make it fit in the stand. I’m not even going to pretend to you I didn’t first try a bread knife because I did. I swiftly realised this wasn’t my best idea and I needed to purchase a saw. This year I was determined to be prepared for every eventuality.
The music goes on (a dedicated playlist created for this exact that you’ll helpfully find below for your listening pleasure), a winter-scented candle is lit and then it all can begin. First the lights, so here’s a good two hours of your day. One probably to untangle and drape them around the tree, the second to rearrange until they’re near perfect. With having such a big tree I tend to always need two sets of lights and with that in mind I purchased a set of 500 bright white lights from Dunelm. If you’re considering this yourself, don’t. Despite having 500 bulbs, they are arranged on a relatively short flex and are all of about 2 mm apart from each other. I’m sure most people won’t notice the difference between the lighting sets, I however will. Every single day. They also revert back to flashing mode whenever you turn them off, so for the first five minutes of them being on I’m mostly just trying to stop the rave occurring in my front room.
Next the larger, heavier baubles find themselves spaced intermittently around the tree. These can always prove to be rather tricky I find, particularly with the more vintage styles. Their immense weight just pulls the branches down in a rather ungainly fashion, so the ones that will house these little treasures need to be picked very precisely.
Once they’re safely in place and I’ve performed my test (a quick, sharp knock to the trunk to see if anything is a little to precarious), it’s time for the medium ones. On my tree these baubles are varying shades of matte silver that came as part of an amazing set from Rockett St George a few years back, sadly they don’t seem to produce them anymore. Their dull finish breaks up the copper and bronze tones to stop it becoming too monotone before the smaller ‘filler’ baubles and decorations go on. You’re now becoming aware of how seriously I take this aren’t you?
Despite several years of looking I still haven’t found a tree topper that can come close to being described as ‘the one’, so instead the top of the tree is adorned by two paper stars I quickly made the night before with a little help from YouTube. I say ‘quickly’, there was nothing ‘quick’ about it I assure you. The recycling bag is filled with the failed attempts. Origami is apparently not my forte.
For the first time this year I also decided to also purchase a second tree. This one’s a little more modest in its size. At a mere £10 from Sainsbury’s it just had to be brought home with me. The ugly black plastic pot it came in however wasn’t going to find a place in my home so needed to be hidden. I wrapped the pot in a plastic bag to hold in any water then set about wrapping it in brown paper and tying it up with twine. The white porcelaine stars from The White Company that decorate it make it all feel rather Nordic – something I’m absolutely okay with. The little orb lights were a much more successful Dunelm purchase: these I can and will recommend.
Happy weekend of tree decorating people. May it be filled with the scent of pine needles and warm mince pies.
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