Fancy new Christmas Tree lights for the coming season? There are many bargains to be had but oh the variety; shapes, colours, styles, energy consumption and more are all up for grabs it seems.
Traditionally a set of Christmas tree lights could last a lifetime and some did! Most parts of the lights were either repairable or replaceable; add to this the fact that in the past a set of tree lights were far from cheap and it is easy to see why they were seldom thrown away.
Each year the same set of lights would be dragged out, tested, tweaked as necessary and hung, often on the same old tired artificial tree. Times were tight and resources meager and so this was common practice unless you came from a more affluent household.
Somewhere along the line Christmas tree lights became much cheaper. They started to be made in a variety of colours, styles and lengths; the wire colour varied and so did the actual bulbs. Indoor, outdoor lights were revamped and brought to life. In the 21st Century more and more Western households hang many sets of lights at Christmas both indoors and out but perhaps the most important set of Christmas lights will be those that adorn your tree.
They and the tree will be the focal point of Christmas in your home.
You may opt to add more than one set of lights but, as some now have 100 plus twinkling lights, one should be enough; it will depend on the size of your tree and what impression you want to make.
Too many tree lights and your ornaments will disappear into nothing; the right amount and appropriate colour, including clear, and your tree will come alive like sparkling diamonds.
One problem with cheaper tree lights is that they may be suspect; always check that they comply with your country's health and safety standards. Many of these lights come from China these days and whilst not all will be faulty by any means there are some unscrupulous dealers in that country.
Another thing to consider is that if you aim to almost have throwaway cheap lights they could damage the environment. Unnecessary waste is never good. The resources used to make a set of lights will be wasted if you simply throw them away each year.
A better option is to go for a mid-price set. One that offers replacement bulbs and the like; one that can be repaired, by changing a fuse for example, and become a family tradition.
LED lights are more eco-friendly as they use less energy but they may not be bright enough for you.
We all have less time these days but our throw away world is bad news. If you can afford to why not buy a good set of classic tree lights, which will not date quickly, and treasure them. Handing family Christmas tree decorations or lights down through the family is a lovely idea.
Whatever option you go for never compromise health and safety. At Christmas Time there is usually news of at least one house fire or death by electrocution, due to faulty Christmas tree lights.
The key phrase should be, If in doubt-throw them out.
You may or may not have already assembled your tree, lights and ornaments. There is usually ample time to bag a bargain especially as far as Christmas Tree lights go; the nearer it is too Christmas the better the bargain will be. In order to get exceptional value for money purchase after Christmas in the January sales.
Always store your Tree lights carefully after Christmas; remember the wiring could become damaged. If you have been able to buy replacement bulbs, just in case, label them. In a year's time you may not be able to find them, nor have a clue which set of lights they are for.
If you buy in the post Christmas sales check the lights over fully working and test before use. If there any faults you will need to get your money back or a replacement. Discovering they do not work the following Christmas could be costly.
For added peace of mind purchase an RCD safety plug to run your lights from. These have come down in price and could be a lifesaver.
The following was originally written a few years ago after watching a Christmas themed show on television in which it was stated that the correct way to decorate a Christmas tree was to start with the lights, add the tinsel and then the decorations.
This advice was the reverse to how I had always decorated my Christmas tree.
Now my tree down the years has always looked good though I say so myself. After more than 40 years of marriage to the same guy we have quite a few decorations bought or passed down.
But I am always open to suggestions on how to improve anything or make it easier so I tuned in and listened up.
The presenter stated that her method would guarantee that the lights sparkled discretely onto the tree's ornaments.
My tree as I already said has always looks fab, and received plenty of good comments, so I guess that either way will work well.
But here is the basic advice then, no matter which order you chose to decorate your tree:
It is always best to place your tree and then lay out all of the tinsel and decorations on the floor. Put the lights in one place on the floor, the tinsel another and the decorations with each other.
This way you can see exactly what you have got.
This may prevent your tree having too many ornaments in one part and empty bare patches in another.
Above all remember that Christmas should be about fun. Try not to make decorating the tree just another Christmas chore. Take your time, have a small glass of wine, or two, and a mince pie, or two, and enjoy yourself.
Tips & Warnings
You will need
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.
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.