It's just a Christmas tree
You may or may not love Christmas. Whether you do or you don't the odds are that you will put up a tree indoors at Christmas, a Christmas tree. These have come a long way since Queen Victoria of England; in the19th Century popularized the Christmas tree. She was persuaded by her beloved husband German Prince Albert. The celebratory trees do however date back to a time long before this Queen.
In ancient times people had a different relationship with trees and foliage. Plants and the like often had an almost religious feel. Before the birth of Christianity people believed they could ward of evil spirits, or at least some people believed that they could.
Following the lead of Queen Victoria of England the West adopted the practice of decorating a tree and placing one in their homes. That practice has continued in the UK during wars, good and bad times, and changing fashions; the “tree", however, has experienced some changes along the years.
Real or artificial
This can be one of the most important factors in choosing your tree. There are pros and cons to both. An artificial tree may seem better value for money, as it will last for years. It does not drop needles and does not have to be transported home each year. These days you can buy artificial trees that look real. You may say why not then buy real in the first place, but read on. Artificial trees come in many shapes and sizes. There are half trees which can be attached to walls. This is very useful where space is at a premium. There are many colours also.
Real trees have in their favour tradition, a specific scent, memories and eye appeal for some.
A real tree does not have to drop needles from the day it is put up to the day it is taken down. On the contrary you can buy real trees these days which are grown so that the needles will not shed easily. It is also down to how you treat the tree in your home. It is after all a living thing and will need some specific TLC, tender loving care. For example if you place a Christmas tree next to a radiator in your home it will not fare well. Simple.
Real Trees can pose a problem after Christmas. You could buy one that is suitable to plant in your garden after the festivities end. Alternatively you could chop it up using the wood to burn and the foliage for garden compost. Although many trees are planted with Christmas in mind you should consider the environmental implications of buying a real Christmas tree.
More choice from artificial
If you decide on an artificial tree you will find a huge choice on offer. First and foremost consider the colour of the tree. Personally green trees speak Christmas but the choice is yours. Many people these days purchase a tree to fit in with the style of their home. They then dress the tree accordingly with specific themes or colours. Black trees are also popular. They are not too dissimilar to trees really.
They may look to you like a dead tree but they will often fit into a modern home better than a traditional Christmas tree.
White trees have been around for many years. They usually look very artificial. You could choose one instead that was basically green but already dressed with fake snow. These trees look more white than green in some cases. If you want to let your imagination fly go for purple, bright pink or orange. A word of caution here though. If you are buying a fake tree as it is more value for money stick with traditional green. If you do not you may find that you are stuck with a bright pink tree which you hate a couple of Christmases down the road.
When you buy an artificial tree always buy from a reputable retailer. Check the label to ensure that it meets your country's safety standards. You do not want to bring a fire hazard into your home do you?
Remember to take into account the cost of decorating the tree. Bear this in mind as far as costs and colours go. If you buy an orange coloured tree for example you will be limited what you can decorate it with, unless you are a clever designer.
Up and ready
One advantage with some Christmas trees is that they come as a package. You can purchase a pre-lit tree but you can go much further. You can buy a tree which has fixed decorations on it. Each year you will simply get it out of its box, shake it and erect the tree. Job done after a little fiddling about. Most of us, however much we complain about "doing the tree", love to decorate the Tree though. It brings back memories, allows your artistic side to soar, can be sociable, enables different and personal choices, and so much more. A pre-lit and pre-decorated tree could be too clinical for you.
If you have mobility issues however one could be perfect. If you live on your own and struggle with fiddly objects it may be a must. Each year the "lights" need to be tested, would around the tree and so on. A pre lit tree can save you time and a frayed temper.
The downside with pre-lit trees can be if the lights no longer work. If your tree has served you faithfully over a few years that may not be a problem. It could be time for a change. Most of the things you need to consider about what type of Christmas tree to buy boil down to personal choice, safety and money.
In our increasingly lengthy marriage we have had at least one Christmas tree in our home each year, except for perhaps one year. When we were newly-weds we would buy a huge real tree. With no car we would carry it home between us. By the time we arrived home the tree had less needles than earlier and we were covered in them. Days later we would find odd ones in our hair. Occasionally tempers heated up but on the whole it was fun. It was also not easy.
For many years we have had artificial trees. After a rather poor looking one we bought a decent real looking tree which served us well for years. Last year we opted to update and went for a traditional looking pre-lit tree. My heart occasionally toys with the idea of a real tree but my brain says no. This year with our latest, fast and furious rescue dog Tinka a real tree does not make sense. Who knows, next year could be different.
The image here is off our tree last year. For once there was snow on the ground outside. That was a little before Christmas though.
As a final thought
I have wonderful memories of our childhood Christmas tree. At the time it was, now how do you say it these days, Awesome. When we removed it many years later it was a pathetic post war effort. It was all of two feet tall, if that. It was spindly with little foliage. It was in reality dismal. However once Mum got to work on it the magic begun. Remember Christmas magic is about more than biggest and best. I can still see that childhood tree in my mind's eye and for me it will always remain, amazing.
The changing face of Christmas
Christmas has changed down the years. This has been due to many things, including technological advances but Father Christmas is still a magical constant, isn't he?
Christmas remains a magical time of year for children. For those of the Christian faith it is a time to come together and celebrate the birth of Jesus. Families still tend to use the time to reinforce relationships and of course giving gifts, for some, is the best bit of Christmas.
Christmas has changed down the years though and never so much as in the 21st Century.
Has Santa been able to keep up with modern advances? Of course he has, what a question.
Computers and the spread of the Internet has probably single-handedly changed so much of our lives and Christmas. People are less inclined to shop on the actual High Street anymore but rather virtually, online.
Christmas Cards look set to die a death with many people these days preferring to make a donation to a charity instead or send an electronic card. However if you do send and receive traditional Christmas cards they are still fun. Yes they can be costly to post, dust gathering and a pain to display but once they are in situ they add to the Christmas feel of your home.
Then there is Santa
Santa Claus, Father Christmas or plain old Santa, call the big guy what you will has changed little down the years. That is his magic. The elves who work hard alongside Santa at the North Pole have been able to utilise modern advances though which means they can make more gifts than ever before. This has proved useful with an ever increasing population in the modern World.
In the 20th Century there were destructive World Wars. With resources at a premium the gifts were less awesome but one way or another Santa always got through. Wars are taking hold in some places again but Santa's use of modern technology means he can cope much better than in the past.
Santa's sleigh has also been upgraded to help Rudolph and the other reindeer get Santa around the globe faster. There are few if any undiscovered countries these days and the same goes for those that used to be uninhabited. This would have put an impossible burden on Santa and the reindeer. Thank the Lord for modern technology.
Challenges for Father Christmas
In the 20th and 2ist Century Father Christmas has faced many challenges, not least a lack of belief in the Big Guy. Added to this people have built homes with no chimneys and fireplaces, have blocked off old chimneys and more. Modern day security systems have been a further challenge for St Nicholas, that is Santa. Thankfully he has an excellent team of experts that help him all the way. Just as technology has moved on so has the magic of Christmas. It has had to. Failing to keep pace was simply not an option.
As far as believing in Santa goes that is down to us. There is not much he can do. He never could. Perhaps in the past believing was easier but it is still possible. Just hold the spirit of Christmas in your heart as you search the night sky for a glimpse of his sleigh. I bet if you look hard enough and listen intently you will see a brief flash of red as the gift giving team race across the sky. If he proves too fast these days you will surely still hear a tinkle of sleigh bells.
Track Santa's journey
One useful tool that could help you catch a glimpse of Santa, Rudolph, Blitzen and the other reindeer is the NORAD Santa tracking System. It is not active until Christmas Eve. The timescale for this event varies according to where you are in the World. Santa has a job keeping up with time differences but he usually manages to. Again it is modern technology with sophisticated sensitive world clocks that help him on his travels.
The NORAD site is already preparing for Christmas Eve, fine tuning its tracking systems and more. If you want to see how it's going check here.
One of the things that has had a negative impact on some traditional Christmas foods is their all year round availability. These days you can buy mince pies or have a "Christmas dinner" at almost any time of year. As a child in the fifties certain food stuffs were not readily available. This meant that some foods were only available for a short time. That made them extra special.
In the past more of the Christmas fayre was made at home at not store bought. Home made Christmas pudding, sweets cakes and Christmas biscuits all added to that special feel. With modern appliances that help cooking and baking time in the kitchen it has never been so easy to get stuck in and make a wide range of Christmas foods. Yes there is a little effort involved but that superior taste will be well worth it.Yes the face of Christmas has changed, some things for the better and some not. Father Christmas remains an eternal part of our celebrations though and long may he do so.
Season's Greetings folks.
Time is a precious commodity
21st Century living for most people is hectic. Time is one of our most precious assets. As such we guard our free time, however brief, from unnecessary intrusions.
An older person however may have too much time on their hands. A depressed person may have all the time in the World to sit and think but that may not be the best option.
Time is funny. Too much free time can in some cases be as bad as not having enough time. This is not governed by age, money or your sex. Loneliness at Christmas is terrible. Some people can feel lonely in a room full of people but there will be others who will not see or speak to a soul over the Holiday Season.
For them the gift of your time is as valuable as giving them a million dollars.
Family, friends and the Community
If you look no further than your immediate neighborhood there are bound to be people who could use some of your time. An elderly person with no immediate family may love a little of your time. It could be used to complete a few chores that have become impossible tasks to the person or just to have a friendly chat.
There could be a sick neighbour who has a dog that needs walking, shopping to collect, a Christmas tree to put up, Christmas Cards to write and post or any number of minor jobs which have become insurmountable tasks.
Local charities would probably love a little of your time, especially at Christmas. The people who work at services such as dog rescue centres are often volunteers. The animals will need feeding, walking, cleaning up after, grooming and more whether it is Christmas or not. Giving a little of your time will ease the burden on the volunteers. It will allow them a little extra time to spend with their loved ones over the Holiday Season.
Hospitals and residential homes may equally value a little of your time. It may be helping with chores or visiting patients and residents who have no family who can visit. Homeless shelters are sadly on the increase, especially during the Christmas period. An extra pair of helping hands will be welcomed here for sure.
In the UK hospitals have a volunteer service which operates throughout the year. A few extra helping hands at Christmas are very useful. Check out what you can or cannot do in good time before Christmas. Even volunteers will need to have CRB, police checks, to make sure that they are suitable to work with chldren or vulnerable adults.
Make it official
Get busy on your computer and create a Christmas gift certificate of time. Include who you are giving the gift to, what it is for and how much time you are giving. This gift could be perfect for grandparents or parents. It could be a promise of a garden make-over in Spring, the re-decoration of a room, a weekly allotted time for shopping ot whatever you know will be important to the recipient.
Above all use your imagination and cater a gift of time to suit the person or persons on the receiving end.
If money is tight time may be all that you have to give but it could be the best gift received this Christmas.
Become a hospital volunteer
No matter what time of year it is Christmas is never far away. Each year the cost of Christmas increases and yet for many people their income will not have done so. Having said that, experiencing a great Christmas is about more than just spending too much money.
The secret of enjoying a great Christmas is about family, friends, celebrating the birth of Christ, and of course it is about children. Gift giving is an integral part of Christmas celebrations around the world but can be a worry. We all love to see the recipient's eyes light up when they open their Christmas gift but spreading such pleasure can be costly. However in reality it does not have to cost the earth.
It’s never too early to buy Christmas gifts
Forward planning is essential if money is in short supply; even if it is not why spend more money on Christmas gifts than is necessary? Shopping for Christmas gifts throughout the year means that you can take advantage of sale prices and special deals.
Believe it or not there are some suitable gift items that are free or almost free. Consider:
Do it yourself gifts.
Do it yourself gifts are those that you have made or assembled yourself. For example, how about:
How to buy cheap Christmas gifts
If you have started shopping for Christmas gifts early in the year you should be able to take full advantage of the January sales. Make sure however that you do not buy items that will be unpopular or unfashionable by the next Christmas.
You will need
A list of those you want to buy a gift for.
Some current knowledge of the recipient such as age, hobbies and interests.
To always have some cash set aside for Christmas gift shopping.
Tips & Warnings
Shop early for Christmas gifts. Remember the best bargains are soon snapped up.
Research on-line for special offers.
Use cash-back websites when possible.
Keep your eyes open for potential Christmas gifts and ideas.
Avoid using a credit card to purchase the gifts. In the long run using such a card will make them expensive.
Can a dog just be for Christmas, not life?
As a person passionate about animal welfare I frequently tell people the old adage that a "dog is for life not just for Christmas". In the past many people bought cute puppies for a Christmas gift only to find that come the New Year the dog was no longer cute nor wanted.
Our first dog was such a dog.
Back in 1972 it was still possible to buy dogs from pet shops in the UK. Enter Drupi.
Somehow or other we went to our local pet shop to buy a goldfish and came out with a 12-week-old dog. He had been what turned out to be an unwanted Christmas gift. The owner was still in the shop as we bought him and it was easy to see that all she wanted was for the dog to get a good home. With three young children he was just too lively for her.
He was our first dog as a married couple and our only one which did not arrive with us through a rescue service. He was a super dog, a liver-brown coloured cross Labrador. He was faithful, loving, fun and lived to be past 18.
Since Drupi we have had a fair few dogs of all shapes, sizes and ages. We have only had one foster dog and she came to us aged around nine months and lived with us until she died aged around 14 in 2015. Hubby could just not her go to another home, no matter how good it would have been.
So there are are perils to taking a dog into your home on a temporary basis but if you are able to give it a go at Christmas read on.
Before you think "great we can do that this Christmas" give the matter serious thought. Here is a little advice:
1-Never promise want you cannot fulfill
2-Make sure you know exactly what is expected of you
3-Get as much information as possible about the dog.
4-Timings are important.
5-Get a signed agreement.
6-Check out liabilities and the insurance situation before you commit
7-Know what you are expected to pay, ie urgent vet bills.
8-Don't feel pressurised
Is it for you?
No matter what time of year could you foster a dog or cat?
It may be early for Christmas planning but not in this case. Check out local rescue centres and get yourself approved as a foster home nice and early.
If your plans would allow an unexpected additional visitor sound out a local rescue centre now. You will still need to have a person and home check in order to ensure that the dog will be in safe hands and that you can accommodate it.
If it is too late for this year think ahead for next Christmas.
Some animal rescue centres are already issuing appeals for temporary homes for dogs in their care. This allows the staff, often volunteers, to get some well earned time off but also places the dogs in a loving environment for Christmas.
If like me you are a dog nut you will not like to think of any animal locked up in a shelter over the Christmas period. It may not be easy to take in a foster dog but it could be many things including fun and rewarding.
So what about it?
Are you up for the challenge?
For those of you who were not born till the 1960s or much later here are some of my childhood memories of Christmas during the 1950's in the UK or as it still was back then Great Britian.
A British Working Class Christmas in the Fifties
Born in 1952 I suppose it would be halfway through the 1950's before I really began to take much notice of what was happening at Christmastime. Our parents were classed as relatively old back then, as most of our neighbours were young parents. My dad was aged 36 when my brother was born and my mum was 33. There had been a baby boy a year or so before but he was sadly born dead. In many ways it is safe to assume that if he had survived I would not be here today, boring you all to death or hopefully entertaining you with some poignant memories.
Two children, however, were ample for a family struggling to make ends meet, and having one parent with health issues. My brother was born in 1950 and myself in 1952.
As the only children, in what was an ageing extended family I guess we were pretty spoiled financially. Yes our parents had little money but dad always worked and a myriad of great aunts and uncles supplied plenty of presents and some remuneration.
Christmas was I suppose a strange affair but we loved it. After all Christmas is whatever it is to you and, if the spirit is right, then it should be fun.
We were brought up to attend Sunday School and regular church services each Sunday, Celebrations such as Easter and Christmas were not just special because they were a holiday but because they had a religious significance too.
At advent there was usually a Sunday School presentation. This was often a book or some years an illustrated children's bible. To this day I have my first Advent presentation which was a prayer book. This book is a little larger that A5 in size. It is called "I ask a Blessing" and has children's prayers with little illustrations. The hard book cover is a little worn at the edges but considering this book's age the condition is not bad. This book was presented to me in 1955. I would have been 31/2 years old. It is very special to me.
All school's held nativity plays and my favourite memory is from 1957. Having just started school that year I was chosen to be Mary. Thankfully it was a mime. Always a chatterbox, even then, I was shy out of the home. I wore a collection of items from my Mum's linen so that I wore white with a dark blue towel draped over my head, as a shawl.
One of the other significant events to do with church at Christmas was our Church's pantomime. As kids we loved this. The plays which we had to appear in were a nightmare for me but watching someone else was lovely. St Stephen's church, which was to become Hull Truck theatre years down the road, held great pantos. Who the actors were I have no idea.
Perhaps they were amateurs drawn from members of the congregation. Whoever they were they were good.
Our Christmas tree and decorations
The decorations in the fifties were often sticky coloured paper looped together to make a brightly coloured paper chain. We also had fluffy tissue paper decorations which opened up into a fat Santa or Christmas bell. These were usually kept for years but the paper chains were replaced each year. This meant that someone had the chore of sticking all of these links of paper together. As kids though we loved it. To complete the decorations a sprig of Holly and one or two of Mistletoe would be strategically placed around our home.
We had the same Christmas tree forever. Now you may think that I am exaggerating but I am not. When my Mum died in 1975 and we emptied her home there it was, our little Christmas tree. It looked small, sad and neglected. As children though we thought it was perfect.
When decorated the tree was placed on the top of our TV set. The tree was 3 to 4 feet high, artificial and was really quite sparse. Once Mum had decorated it though it looked amazing or it did to me. Amongst our tree ornaments we had:-
Perhaps it was because my parents were a little older or maybe just the times, but we had a traditional British Christmas stocking. This was placed at the end of our beds. When we grew and were more street wise this became a pillowcase full of presents.
However as small children we had a stocking which was actually one of my Dad's huge, knee length working socks. This would have layers of small gifts and treats. The knobbly bottom of the sock would be due to an orange or tangerine, an apple and some large shelled nuts. We would barter these with each other. As a child I did not eat nuts and swapped these.
In the stocking there would be small gifts such as skipping ropes, balls, yo-yos, a kaleidoscope, water pistols, penny whistles a toy harmonica, doll's clothes, colouring books, crayons and more. It could take ages to fully empty this sock. We then went onto the gifts that Santa had brought.
In some ways these could be opened quicker. Wrapping paper lovingly placed was ripped open in a flash. Over the years gifts included a toy sewing machine,a brownie box camera, a trike and roller skates.
We usually received a new bicycle each year but it was not really new. Dad would have a couple of bike frames in our Great Aunt's attic room. He would disappear from time to time and this would be where he was. As if his hour's of work were not long enough he would add new wheels, a sparkling bell, a lick of paint, new brakes and whatever else was necessary so that we each had a new bike at Christmas. Sure some years I had a boy's bike and sometimes it was my brother's old bike after a makeover.
Dad biked to work and all over the place really. As children he would take us off on our bikes each weekend. We would tour the local dockland or countryside stopping of at Museums and such, now and then.
Santa and Me
Well to start with I was not keen on the big fella. Santa, Father Christmas, or St Nick, call him what you will, but I found him rather daunting. He would appear at school parties, Sunday school lunches, local stores, Hull Fair and more. Sometimes he appeared a little taller, or a little fatter and he usually seemed rather peculiar. Yes, I know it was probably one of his helpers or assistants but all of this was rather unsettling. I would be terrified that he would call my name and I may have to meet this man.
Whilst we were at our Great Aunt's Christmas Eve party he would begin delivering presents. One year, as we were heading home a young man shouted at my brother that Santa had already passed overhead. Still my brother raced home with my Dad and hopped into bed almost fully dressed and it was OK. His presents were there at the end of his bed next morning.
A while ago, with such memories in mind, I penned a sort of poem or ode to Santa that goes like this:-
When I was young
it seemed strange to me,
that at Christmas time
I would sit on the knee,
of a rather fat man
all dressed in red
who on Christmas Eve
left presents on my bed.
Just how this man
travelled here and then there
I was not sure
and so I would stare
when Santa appeared
at our school or a store
and then in a flash
be gone through the door.
How could this man
ride on a sleigh
that flew through the sky
on our special day?
How could he give
to so many so fast
such beautiful toys
that were made to last?
The strangest thing though
was that on Christmas night
he would climb down our chimney
which must have been tight.
So that when we awoke,
so early next day,
our presents were there
but not Santa's sleigh.
Still, as we all know,
now we are grown,
mostly its magic
that brings Santa to our home.
Its best not to wonder
just how things appear
but enjoy what you are given
for Christmas this year.
My final memories of Santa are from encounters in the local high street stores, and their Christmas Grottoes. It was usually my great aunt that accompanied us. This Santa was so big that he usually scared me half to death and his presents were often terrible.
Christmas food and drink
For various reasons my Dad hardly drank alcohol. Still the odd beer at Christmas seemed the usual. Mum would have her one or two cigarettes of the year and the occasional glass of sherry. We kids had Dandelion and Burdock or Cream Soda.
The Christmas lunch bird was usually chicken as it was much cheaper than a turkey. However we had all the trimmings. Homemade stuffing, mince pies, Christmas, cake and Christmas pudding. There was always a huge tin of Quality Street chocolates a large tin of assorted biscuits, a selection of nuts in their shells, a massive trifle and plenty of apples and oranges. Dad would roast some chestnuts on the fire as we sat and toasted our toes By Boxing Day everyone was bored of eating rich foods and wanted something simple such as egg and chips.
My family were really quite musical. We had a large upright piano at home and Dad would rattle out any tune as soon as he had heard it. The tune would be jazzed up or played in rag time style. He also had an old radiogram which had customised speakers added. This was great for belting out his favourites such as Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby or Elvis.
Added to this there was a harmonica and an accordion. These were taken to the Christmas Eve bash were everyone would join in singing or have a little dance.
The local theatre held professional pantomimes and we were sometimes taken by our parents or our school. Oh no you weren't. Oh yes we were. You get the picture.
We only had a television set from the late fifties so our early childhood was spent visiting, playing, listening to the radio, reading, drawing or whatever. The relatives who we visited at Christmas, those who had TV sets, were in general older. One family only had the BBC on their TV set and watched programs such as The Billy Cotton Band Show or The Black and White Minstrels. Imagine that these days.
On the whole
So there you have a brief glimpse into my childhood Christmases of 1950's Britain. Our small house had no bathroom and an outside loo which seems terrible these days. There was only a fire downstairs and so the bedrooms were freezing. With my Rupert Bear hot water bottle though and a large green eiderdown I was safe from the world.
You may be thinking that I was rich compared to you or thinking that I was deprived. Neither is right nor wrong.
I loved my childhood Christmases. They were wacky, even then, but such fun. I guess the one fact that made them so appealing was that they were shared with loved ones. So many of these people have not been around for many years, but they are such a big part of these memories.
So as you write this year's letter to Santa with your demands remember that is not really the point of it all. Christmas is the Season of Goodwill and, yes the gifts and the trimmings are great, but they are not the essential ingredient.
What is it that they say about necessity being the mother of invention? Whatever it is I know what they mean. Take Christmas for example. When money is tight you need to be inventive and imaginative, so that you still have an enjoyable Christmas, with all the trimmings.
Do not imagine though that you need to be extremely artistic in order to be creative. Research the Internet and local library in order to get some tips for making your own Christmas tree decorations.
Of course firstly you will need to decide what you want to achieve.
Perhaps you would like your Christmas Tree to be shimmering gold or red and green in a traditional style. Then again maybe you want your Christmas Tree this year to be stylish and minimalistic. Up to the minute trees may feature simply black and silver.
The choice is yours.
Once you know what you are hoping to achieve you can start planning the decorations and gathering together what you need to accomplish the look.
After Christmas remember to check out the post-Christmas sales for the best prices for retail Christmas tree decorations. There are always some great bargains on offer.
Try E Bay, Car Boot and Garage Sale
See if there are second hand decorations available on E Bay or at local car boot or garage sales. You may find some good bargains. Many people hardly use their decorations and then decide it’s time for a change.
Buy a few different rolls of ribbon. This can be cut to size and made into bows to decorate your tree or any decorations that you have made. Thin ribbon can be used instead of string to hang these decorations.
Collect a selection of empty boxes in order to make pretend presents. If you prefer wrap items such as a scarf that you already have to make a soft parcel. With varying sizes these presents can add interest to your Christmas tree. Wrap in stylish paper and add bows and ribbons. Hang these strategically around your tree or place around the base of your tree,
Sweets and other goodies
Do not buy expensive Christmas goodies such as candy canes and chocolate decorations. Buy a large bag of mini treats to hang individually. Small bags of chocolate or children's sweets look good and can be enjoyed throughout the Christmas season.
Tinsel and glitter
Traditional tinsel and glitter is great for filling up the Christmas tree. It adds sparkle and razzmatazz quite cheaply. Coloured foil can be cut into thin strips and curled with scissors so that it adds frills.
There are various Christmas Cookies that can be baked and decorated so that they will look good hung on your Christmas Tree.
A good example of this is Cinnamon Dough Cookie ornaments. Apart from decorating your tree they will add a lovely seasonal aroma to your room.
Tissue paper is great for decorations. Buy various colours and experiment mixing and matching. This paper can be gathered into frills for adorning homemade angels and the like. Buy some cheap pipe cleaners for the bodies and dress them up with this bright, cheap paper.
Multi-coloured foil is great for making Christmas tree decorations. Make a draft one first as a tester.
You will need some coloured foil, appropriate cotton or string and a reel of tape. Cut an oblong approximately 8 x 6 inches. In the middle 4 x 5 inches slice a row of slits. Join the two long sides with tape. Gently press on the ends of this roll and the slits will open up making a fancy lantern, with a fine string loop through the top this will hang easily on your tree. Choose brightly coloured Christmas themed foil for the best effect. Experiment with different sizes once you have made a draft lantern.
Experiment with different materials whilst you save some money but have some fun. Involve the whole family for a very personal Christmas.
Cut Christmas shapes such as a Snowmen, Trees and snowflakes, out of card and cover in shiny glitzy foil or with sparkly tinsel. Once the foil is glued in place add a string to hang on the tree. I sometimes use the coloured, thin ribbon type of thread to hang my decorations.
Small balls and the like can be sprayed with silver or gold spray paint. A small hook can then be inserted into the ball and the decoration hung on the tree.
Once you let your imagination start working overtime you may find lots of items around the home that you can use. Remember health and safety and fire issues though. Cotton wool to represent snow, pine cones sprayed silver or gold, cheap costume jewellery beads and more can all be utilised.
It may be possible to buy cheap Christmas Crackers for decorating your tree. These crackers may not be perfect for pulling but could be very decorative.
To make your own Christmas crackers, that are simply for decoration, use empty toilet paper rolls for the inners. Decorate these with foil, paper, ribbons, bows and or sparkle.
Want to make a box of crackers for a gift or some for the tree that will actually pull properly?
The back of the Tree
Remember that if your tree is against a wall you do not have to decorate that side of it. Most of us do but, if money is tight, it is not necessary. Simply add the odd decoration, cracker or piece of tinsel to give the allusion that the tree is completely decorated.
Being creative with decorating your Christmas tree can save you money but also be fun. The decorations do not have to look hand-made or pathetic. In fact they will probably look individual and distinctive. Even tiny coloured pegs can be used to hang your decorations on the tree once they have been made.
An added bonus could be that your children are kept busy and occupied for a considerable time as they use their creativity.
Note:-Make sure that there is nothing homemade on your tree that will smell, for example, with time or be a fire hazard near to Christmas lights. Saving money is fine but not at the expense of your health and safety.
A beautiful Christmas tree is a must but what about all the hard work? An artificial tree which is pre-lit could be a blessing in so many ways.
Artificial or real Christmas tree
It may be that you would not give an artificial Christmas tree house room, but perhaps it is time to think again.
Both have distinct pros and cons but an artificial tree offers many years of use which represents good value for money. Most of these trees dismantle into two or three sections which are easy to store. These days artificial Christmas trees look almost as good as the real ones. They do not shed nor dry out though, so they look good not only for all of the Holidays but year after year.
The choice is yours. If money and space is not a problem perhaps you will choose both or a huge real tree. Most of us are not in such a lucky position though.
So as you consider which will suit your needs best spare a thought for pre it artificial Christmas trees. Now one of these might suit you very well.
Pre-lit artificial Christmas tree
These days artificial Christmas trees come in many shapes and sizes. You may find one of the "cut in half" types of trees that hang on a wall are useful, if space is tight. Then again there are slimline trees which take up much less room.
We opted for a slim-line pre-lit Christmas Tree from a local large supermarket. All such trees and toys had a 40% discount attached and so there were huge savings to be made. The current economic crisis may be bad news in many ways but if you have at least some money there are bargains to be had.
Our slim-line pre-lit tree is 6 foot tall. The base has three sections which slot together to make the tree stable. The tree has three sections too. Each section has a lead which plugs into a type of junction box near the centre of the tree. Once the tree is decorated you cannot not see the plugs and sockets. Of course there is then a lead which connects to the mains electricity supply.
A couple of bulbs were supplied with the tree and it came in a box which is perfect for post Christmas storage.
Gone are the days when the only acceptable Christmas tree colour was green. Black trees have grown increasingly popular in recent years. But why stop there? Red, white, silver, purple and more are available.
Some people are just so hard to buy a gift, aren't they? They either have everything a person needs or wants, and some, or the opposite. The recipient of your gift may be a virtual stranger such as a teacher or work colleague which will have its own set of problems. For whatever reason though sometimes finding the right gift remains elusive or not possible in the time allowed. This is when most of us will resort to giving cash or something that has a cash value. There may be reasons why you are loathe to give cash such as:
1 - The money will get used in the household budget
2 - It does not seem like a proper gift
3 - By the time a gift can be purchased, perhaps after Christmas, the recipient may hardly remember who or where the money came from
4 - It is impersonal
There are alternatives to cash though.
Pre Paid Gift vouchers
Prepaid gift cards appeal for many reasons. They can be bought with a particular gift in mind, that is for example Christmas or a Birthday. They will have an appropriate image and or message attached. They are convenient, easy to purchase and have longevity. Add such a card to a small gift to make the gift sensational. You may want to give a book but be unsure what books the recipient already has. Enter a prepaid book gift card. If you are buying for a loved one who lives miles away from you a prepaid gift card can be picked up online. No delivery charges and no waiting times. Instead an almost instantaneous gift.
So what are the perils?
Hubby received a prepaid gift card last Christmas. Great. It was for a local fishing shop which was thoughtful and just what he wanted. It meant he could replace some of his old fishing gear. The buyer also purchased such a card for another relative. By the time she got round to sorting through her Christmas gifts she had misplaced the other gift card. To this day she has not found it.
The sad thing was that Hubby never enjoyed his gift card either. He had not realised that it had a short time span for use. Six months later he realised and it was already too late. The card was no longer valid. An important lesson learned, check expiry dates.
But there is more.......
One of the perils of giving and receiving a prepaid gift card is when it comes from a store. This problem was highlighted in 2012, in the UK, during the pre Christmas sales.
What if a store goes out of business?
Electrical retailer Comet collapsed. When the announcement was made that the store was experiencing financial difficulties, customers in receipt of pre paid store cards, hot footed it to local stores to buy goods. They were out of luck.
Store Cards were not to be honoured.
This was eventually changed but it could have remained this way. Comet was a well established company that had traded in the UK for many, many years. If it had been a recent, "fly by night", kind of Store prepaid gift cards could have been worthless.
A lesson learned. So remember to double check;
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