Wouldn't it be great to have family tree decorations to hand down to future generations? In order to do just that you will need to make sure that you take good care of your decorations.
The vast majority of tree decorations around these days are practically unbreakable but they are the more run of the mill ones. Extra special tree decorations can still be a little delicate and even those that are tough may still start to look a little tatty without the necessary care.
Good storage of precious Christmas tree decorations can also:-
• Save you time as you will not have to keep shopping for new tree ornaments each year or wasting a huge amount of time decorating your tree as you will know exactly where everything is.
• Save you money as you will not have to purchase over and over again but rather just buy the odd new decoration.
So here are my tips for storing those little tree treasures
1- Always lightly dust your decorations as you take them down to put away for another year. This way they will be in pristine shape next Christmas with little effort.
2- You can just use cardboard boxes but it is better to pack in wooden boxes or crates if possible. If you use cardboard boxes make sure that they are tough and strong. It is often preferable to store the decorations in the original packaging; also, you never know, this way they could become valuable antiques someday.
3- Layer suitable tissue paper at the bottom of the box or an old blanket. Make sure though that there are no fibres which may snag the decorations.
4- Wrap each decoration in kitchen paper or soft tissue paper. This will prevent one decoration scratching the surface of others that are close by.
5- Layer more tissue paper between layers of the decorations.
6- Preferably use a box that has a tight fitting lid. If not make one yourself.
7- Try to ensure that the box is as airtight and as damp proof as possible.
8- Store the box or boxes of Christmas decorations somewhere that will be easy to access the next year but out of harm’s way. A loft which is not damp or regularly accessed may suit. This should mean there is no chance of the decorations getting broken by a silly accident.
As with anything precious that you want to protect a little thought goes a long way. When you look at how pretty but delicate some decorations are it is obvious that you need to take care of them.
I love my Christmas tree but I am a lazy decorator of it. All of my decorations are threaded with Christmas wrapping ribbon and tied with a generous loop. For the last few years these ribbons have been red, gold and green to match the decorations. This means that every year my decorations are already threaded and good to go. Every once in a while a change of ribbon is all that’s needed. There is really no need to but a different colour can alter the whole appearance of the tree and its decorations.
Amongst our home Christmas decorations there is one that was mine as a child, a few that were my mother-in-laws and even one that was my Grandma's which dates back to WWII. These may not look full of glitz or glamour but they are heart-warming at Christmas-time.
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.
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.
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.
Pantomime, Essential Christmas entertainment, Oh no it isn't, Oh yes it is
Are you like me? Getting on in years I may be, but I still love PANTOMIME.
From those amateurish Pantos of my childhood, that were held each year in my local Church-hall, to the more flamboyant and expensive offerings in the Theatre, Pantomimes remain fun.
Despite being traditional they have moved with the times. Pantos often include popular entertainers, whilst the basic story may have a modern twist and there are even saucy adult Pantos, featuring raucous comedians, these days.
For me though a good Pantomime is all about all round, good clean family fun.
There may be the slight double entendre here and there but there is nothing really offensive. A great Pantomime is one which you can take the children to see, fully confident that they will not be hearing swear words and seeing sexually explicit entertainment.
Pantomimes are not new
It's thought that the earliest forms of pantomime were first performed in Ancient Greece and then Rome. However our modern pantos have their roots in the 15th and 16th Century.
The first English pantomimes were more of a small performance which occurred between the acts of something such as an opera. Eventually they came into their own and full pantomimes were performed. By the 1800s pantomime, as we know it, was established in England.
Although pantomimes take place all over the world it is a peculiar, very British form of entertainment. Many people still view a visit to the theatre to watch a pantomime as part of their Christmas celebrations.
Usually any panto plot is loosely based on a fairy-tale and the most popular pantomimes tend to be Cinderella, Snow White, Babes in the Wood, Puss in Boots, Sleeping Beauty, Dick Whittington and Aladdin.
That said the last one I saw in the flesh was Robinson Crusoe.
Pantomime is one of the most politically incorrect forms of entertainment
The Principal boy is always played by a very good looking woman. There are always at least one or two pantomime Dames played by men. These are usually gross caricatures of women; at least that's the theory. I would hate to meet any real woman who was like a pantomime dame! More than once male drag artists or very camp guys have played the panto dame.
No decent panto can survive without a nasty villain, or two. This evil character is vital for stirring up the audience and adding some tension to the fun.
Panto costumes are usually loud, brash and colourful which is all part of the fun. Sometimes, especially when an appropriate comedian is part of the cast, there is a slapstick section of the show.
Panto is all about audience participation, for example:-
The favourite panto performance of my childhood was Ruby Murray starring in Cinderella at our local theatre. I was taken as part of a school party and loved every minute. The music and costumes were just lovely to a starry eyed young girl.
As an adult a favourite one year was at the same theatre; this time accompanying a sister-in-law and one of her boys; it was Cinderella again, but the stars were comedy duo, The Krankies, and boy did we laugh.
A couple of years ago I went with a gang of gals to a Radio Humberside production at the local University which was excellent. It was Robinson Crusoe and this low budget charity panto was great for its amateurish feel.
Panto is not for everyone and often adult males shy away from it. However we gals, with or without children, tend to love pantomime, no matter what our age.
OH YES WE DO!