Once upon a time, the only stress involved in decorating the Christmas tree was unearthing the bauble collection, untangling the tinsel - and trying to stop the children ruining the effect with their cotton wool and toilet roll creations!
That last bit might sound a bit Scrooge-esque (I admit I sneakily hid my children’s offerings on the back branches to avoid hurt feelings and decor disasters!), but nowadays, it’s no longer enough for a tree to be simply plonked in a corner of the living room and randomly hung with mismatched or inherited ornaments.
It’s increasingly seen as necessary to dress and style this festive focal point to within an inch of its life, and ensure it complements room decor, rather than garishly jarring with it, even if it is only on display for a few weeks.
“I don’t see decorating the tree as being something sentimental that we - the family - do together,” says designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, voicing the view of many decor devotees, who take their trees very seriously.
“It can go horribly wrong. The children might feel encouraged to start making aesthetic judgements. I keep telling them they shouldn’t mistake our family for a democracy. When it comes to the way things look, it’s the way I want it!”
Our modern forensic focus on festive decor is reflected in the huge and growing choice of seasonal themes. There are trees galore, whether real or artificial, with the latter often so lifelike, you could swear you can smell the pine. Contemporary versions range from super-slim, silver or natural wood creations, bare of foliage and a world away from anything an old-school Santa might recognise.
Whichever look you prefer, it’s time to tackle that tree.
Here are four looks to choose from, with a guide for easily creating each... Adding cardboard kiddie craft entirely optional!
WONDER OF WHITE
A white frosted tree with glass and white baubles will stun with its simplicity.
“Icy, neutral tones for tree and home decorations are perfect for creating a chic chalet-style Christmas,” says Jane Bailess, assistant buyer for seasonal events at John Lewis.
A charming down-in-the-woods look will delight children and adults alike.
A traditional setting is easy to create - just keep the colour scheme to green and red, and enliven with fashionable tartan touches.
Black and gold are perfect partners for sophisticated festive decor, which oozes luxury and atmosphere, and this choice particularly suits modern or minimal decor.