Christmas stockings are often, these days, used as part of the Christmas decorations. Let’s face it, there are some lovely Christmas stockings available, so it is little wonder that we incorporate them into our Christmas frills. However, especially if your Christmas stockings are going to be functional and gather the treats that Santa leaves you, ideally they need to be hung somewhere appropriate.
Traditionally Christmas stockings were hung at the fireplace, for ease of access by Father Christmas, or Santa as you may call him. This was perfect when Santa used to be able to get down your chimney. In recent times though fireplaces have tended to die out, and many newly built homes never have one in the first place.
Even if you have a working fireplace is hanging an inflammable Christmas stocking above it apropriate?
But not having a fireplace may not only cause Santa access problems but may leave you in a bit of a quandary as to where to hang those festive stockings.
The bottom of your bed
Obviously with the changing times Santa’s magic has had to adapt so he is fully able to enter your home, in order to leave your presents, whether you have a fireplace and chimney, or not. His magical means of entry ensures that he does not have to waste time finding you and your Christmas stocking. Fair enough, if you have no stocking, or are receiving large gifts, he will probably have to leave these under your Christmas tree. However, a Christmas stocking is perfect for those smaller gifts.
As children we never left our Christmas stockings on the fireplace, as we always had a real fire burning in the grate, during those winter long months. Our Christmas stockings were all hung at the bottom of our beds. This was lovely and began a household tradition. Before we crept downstairs on Christmas morning we would investigate what had been left by Santa, in our Christmas stockings.
If you have a suitable headboard or bedstead you may be able to hang your stocking at the bed’s head. This gives you the best chance of catching Santa as he goes about his business. After all he is rather hard to pin down and is notoriously elusive.
Over door hangers can be used to hang more than one stocking if necessary. Utilise door and cupboard handles and let your imagination soar.
As a design feature
If you have decorative Christmas stockings there are quite a few places where you can display them. Consider:
-Along the side of the staircase.
-Perhaps on the balustrade.
-The dining table may be perfect or dining table chairs.
-Large pieces of furniture such as Welsh dressers may also fit the bill.
-Any sort of shelves or shelving.
-A coat rack or row of hooks may display Christmas stockings well.
-A curtain pole resting between two hooks.
-A use rope and hang with washing pegs.
-Temporary wall hanging hooks.
Have a really good look around your home. If you have a dado rail, or the like, your Christmas Stocking may look good adorning this. If the stockings are not too heavy you may be able to hang them from your Christmas tree. This depends on the size of your tree and what will be going in your Christmas stocking.
Nowhere really is out of bounds for a Christmas stocking. As always the choice is yours.
However remember to consider any health and safety issues, especially fire, before you finally place them in your home. Check just what material your Christmas stocking is made from. Make sure that all Christmas stockings are well away from any heat source and those beautiful, twinkling Christmas lights, which could also be a fire hazard.
Sometimes the smallest Christmas tree can be the most memorable. This was certainly true of our childhood Christmas Tree. Tiny and unpretentious it may have been but it still has a special place in my Christmas memories, more than half a century later.
Artificial and Real Christmas Trees are both great in their own ways, but you need to find the perfect tree for you and your circumstances.
Here are some tips then, plus the pros and cons of both artificial and real, which may help you decide which is the right choice for YOU.
An artificial or a real Christmas tree?
Real and Artificial Christmas Trees both have pros and cons. It will inevitably be down to personal choice. Here are some hints and tips, as well as a few pros and cons, which may help you choose the right tree for you.
REAL CHRISTMAS TREES
Still Fancy a real Christmas Tree?
Many years ago when we had real trees we would always buy them locally. Hubby and I would trudge out, no matter what the weather or size of tree, and walking, carry our Christmas Tree home. In some ways it was fun and part of our Christmas festivities. Inevitably though tempers would fray and we would both get stabbed with the pine needles. By the time we arrived home we would be covered with pine needles. So if you really want a Real Tree check out delivery options when you purchase. If you transport the tree in your own vehicle be prepared to find pine needles in your vehicle well into the New Year.In fact maybe even in the summer.
Artificial Christmas Trees
Artificial trees have come a long way in recent years. There are so many colours and sizes to choose from. There are even upside down trees for those who have little space and want to be a different. Some are already decorated or incorporate lights.
If money is tight consider buying an artificial tree that is pre-lit and already decorated. You can save up to buy a more expensive tree in a few years time.
Buy your tree on-line in order to get the best value and have your artificial tree delivered to your door.
Remember that a classic artificial Christmas tree may have more longevity. Fashions change and if you opt for a contemporary black tree it may look hideous in a couple of years time.
After all the grocery shopping we do before Christmas, is it really any wonder that most of our refrigerators and store cupboards are still bursting at the seams well into the New Year?
A lot will depend on how many visitors you had over the holidays and just how efficiently you did your Christmas food and drink shopping. Sometimes our Christmas plans do not turn out as we expected and we are left with much more food than usual. Either way everyone just gets fed up with overindulging and by Boxing Day most visitors are declining food and drink.
So, be it a mountain or a molehill, just what do you do with left over holiday food?
Firstly you need to make sure that leftovers are still fresh enough to eat. Labelling food as you use it will help you decide what you can still use and what you need to dispose of. Check the expiry, and use by dates, where possible. Organise your store cupboard so that the food with the shortest date is at the front, to be used first. Once you have noted what you have left to use, and when by, you can decide what to serve.
Old recipe books may offer inspiration
Browse your old recipe books and on-line cooking sites for some tasty and unusual ways to use up your holiday food and drink. By January most of us are sick and tired of traditional Christmas fare and you may find that simple basic recipes will offer a good solution.
Leftover traditional Christmas food
Christmas puddings usually have a very long expiry date and can be eaten next autumn or even saved for next Christmas.
Christmas cake can be crumbled into a rich vanilla ice cream or served as a hot dessert with custard. Make sure that you remove the icing and marzipan first though.
Feed the birds
Treat the local birds and throw out small pieces of your old bread. Fry it first to add a little fat to keep help keep the birds warm. You can also feed the birds with some of your left over nuts, perhaps broken down a little.
Do not forget to make good compost from vegetable and fruit peelings, egg shells and any fruit and vegetables that are too old to be eaten.
Freeze what you can
A few weeks down the line after Christmas, when money is tight, you may wish that you had been more cost effective with your leftovers. See what foods can be frozen efficiently. Some vegetables and fruit will need blanching before freezing. Research the details online. Stale bread can be grated down and then frozen to use as bread crumbs. Similarly old biscuits can be broken into a crumbly mix and frozen to use eventually for a biscuit base for cheesecakes. Leftover cheese can be grated and then stored in the freezer for use on toast, as a pizza topping, on scones or whatever takes your fancy.
Make a tasty smoothie with leftover fresh fruit. Alternatively stew appropriate fruits and keep chilled in the fridge to add to plain yogurt or as a breakfast cereal topping.
Use up milk that is in date by making homemade rice pudding and wholesome porridge on the cold winter mornings.
Usually alcohol has a long shelf life and can be saved for later in the year, for birthday parties or maybe visitors.
Throw a post-Christmas party
Of course you could help cure everyone's post-Christmas blues and throw a post-Christmas party. Everyone could bring something from their own leftovers and it would be a great way to use up yours, especially the alcohol.
Give a little
Perhaps you have some elderly neighbours who struggle with money, and maybe did not have such an indulgent Christmas? Either invite them round for a meal or give them some treats from your leftover food and drink store.
Donate to a foodbank
As long as the food and drink is still in date and unopened a local foodbank will be happy to receive a donation of goods.
Use your imagination, with what you have left. Organise your leftovers first in order to prioritise and make the best use of them. Once you start experimenting you may be surprised what you can make and what foods may go together. You may even invent what is to become a firm family favourite and you will definitely help your cash flow.
Plan ahead and make sure you shop more sensibly next Christmas. In these tight money times forward planning is a must.
Christmas leftovers recipes here at the BBC
Remember on Christmas Eve that Santa's preparations start early in the day. When I was a kid little was known of Santa's incredible journey on December 24 but these days children are much luckier. Modern technology has opened up a more hands on approach to Santa and you can now track his journey around the world if you want to.
Big and little kids around the world are now able to track Santa's journey on Christmas Eve, the start of the Christmas festivities. Mums and Dads may still have a lot of work to do but, as most children are now on holiday from school, they might be able to visit the website.
NORAD has an official website that tracks Santa on his Christmas Eve travels. It has a few surprises in store also. You will need to check in on Christmas Eve as the site is only fully operational for this one day each year. The site goes live at 9am Christmas Eve. NORAD usually is only responsible for protecting North America from incoming nuclear missiles but for one day each year it has special duties monitoring Santa's journey.
NORAD uses radar and satellite technology to follow Santa, as well as utilising the infra-red signature left by Rudolph's red nose. Surprisingly NORAD has been tracking Santa since 1955 but I guess it must have been kept secret back then. The Internet has allowed a more visual chance to follow the big guy. Google maps and updates will provide Santa's latest location throughout Christmas Eve. This service is unable to predict the exact time that Santa will visit you. This is as we all know is due to his magical abilities.
See roughly though what time Father Christmas may be in your neck of the woods to avoid any last minute hitches. You don't want to be awake when he arrives, do you?
Merry Christmas to everyone then and I hope Santa brings you all your heart desires, if he can.
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 the 19th 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, colours 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, many colours available 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 some real trees in reality. 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, wound 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 but 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.
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 in reality 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, awesome.