Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Christmas Crackers

Christmas Crackers


I will admit up front with no messing that I am controlling when it comes to decorating the house. I am that parent who will let the kids decorate the tree, smile sweetly, then redo it after they have gone to bed, or at the very least rearrange the branches that have 15 ornaments hung on them.

Just call me Monica.

"You won't get me to sit on the couch and talk about my problems until I have straightened things up Dr. Hunter."

I always think that decorating the house for this festive season divides people into two categories. It's either Santas grotto in your house or subtly reigns supreme. We have both types amongst the members of our family so I will be careful how I proceed. 

If you wish to decorate every nook and cranny with all the bits of tinsel and baubles and flashing snowmen that you can find then you go ahead, but I'm probably not the one to give you advice on that! I'm sure my kids would love me forever if I did, but I'm not, so there you have it. 

I'm a tree,candles and lights gal.

So can you decorate and make your house festive on a budget at Christmas? 

The first question is, "real or fake tree?" Hmmm. I love the smell of a real tree and thought I would never go down the route of an artificial tree , but when we had our second baby 9 years ago I could no longer stand the hourly destruction of the lower branches of the tree. Needles galore! So we purchased what we thought was a pretty good artificial tree at a cost of £49.99. Over the past 10 years (it will be it's tenth outing this year!)it has more than paid for all the 'real' trees we would have purchased of course, although that was not my motivation at the time.

If cost is your primary concern then I would suggest looking at an artificial tree or a potted real tree that  you can re use each year. However, you can also pick up bargains last minute if you are happy to wait. One year, before we had gone down the route of an artificial tree ,when we only had one small baby at home and we were both in full time work we waited until Christmas eve to purchase our tree. It cost us 99p from B and Q for a 6 foot beauty!

If you are starting from scratch obviously it is going to cost you more so pick and choose from these 10 ten tips for what is relevant to you. We do opt to have a tree, but of course you don't need to if you want to cut costs further:

  • Keep things simple - you don't need to decorate everywhere.
  • Fairy lights can change the feel of a whole room and can be picked up as cheap as chips.

  • Some candles on the mantle piece with a few sprigs of ivy is a lovely simple way to change up a Christmas decoration.
  • Use greenery and berries from the garden or a friends - it is free and smells divine. I decorated our banister last year with ivy, a few sprigs of holy, some red baubles and some fairy lights - beautiful.

  • Make a decoration for your door. It doesn't need to be an expensive wreath. A few bits of greenery mixed in with a few silver decorations, tied with a silver ribbon looks very classic.
  • When you buy decorations, invest in ones that will last and store them carefully. Pick up new decorations in the sales after Christmas - never pay the silly prices they charge prior to then. Wrap them in tissue and pack in boxes. We also get the children to write a letter about what they hope for over the year to come and put it in with the decorations. They love opening them when we decorate the tree!

  • I do splash out on a bunch of lilies and/ or red roses . I try and get these before the prices go up for Christmas! If you get them tightly budded they will last right through.
  • A simple nativity scene, particularly if you have young children, adds Christmas spirit to the season. I purchased this papier mache one for £20 about 5 years ago. The children rearrange it regularly. I seem to have missed out a shepherd - got them down from the loft to photograph during my sort out. I expect he is lurking in another box of decorations. We have had many funny combinations set up!

  • Buy a wooden advent calender for the kids. This will pay for itself as you won't have to buy disposable ones every year. I can fill it with chocolate for £1.00 . They take it in turns to open a drawer. It cost me £10.99.

  • For my last tip here are a selection of simple and inexpensive decorations to make and use, either as table pieces or around your home:

  1.  Pine cones sprayed in gold and silver
  2.  A glass bowl filled with silver or glass baubles
  3.  Candy canes grouped in a small vase tied with a red ribbon
  4.  A glass bowl with a bundle of battery operated fairy lights
  5.  Use empty wine bottles and spray silver,white or gold and put tall white candles    in. Cluster them together in the centre of the table.
  6.  A simple Christmas banner - Use some garden twine and hang an selection of items  along it. You could go really homemade and get the children to decorate brown tags and tie these on, or hang a selection of small wooden Christmas decorations or alternate two colours or 100s of small baubles ( these are so cheap to buy!)
  7.  If you are a bunting maker - make some simple Christmas bunting in red, white and  green to string around your room.
  8. Use the kids stockings ( or any stockings) and fill them with wrapped empty boxes for that ultimate Christmas feel. Hang along the banister or above the fireplace.
  9. Wrap a few small boxes neatly in brown paper and decorate with ribbon in one colour. Arrange on a surface.
  10. To display cards. Get hold of a child's hoola hoop. Cover it in Christmas wrapping and tie a ribbon at the top. Peg cards all the way around to make a card wreath.

All of these decorations are pretty basic and don't cost the earth. Of course if you have a bit more cash to splash you could make things a little more complicated and elegant, but I'm saving what I can for my new kitchen so I shall be keeping it simple this year!

What are your decorating tips?


  1. Ha! I do the same with the tree decoration. I let the kids help and then rearrange it. I am the one who decides where everything goes in my house! LOL! And I don't like it to be everly 'packed'. I like to say that it is a house decorated for the Christams season and NOT a Cristmas' Ornaments' Store!!! I also have an artificial tree and a wooden advent calendar! I like your tips!

  2. This post made me laugh - I too am Monica! Absolute control freak when it comes to decorating .. and have also been known to re-do the tree when everyone has gone to bed :)

  3. You can call me Monica too!!! No-body but no-body gets to decorate my house, luckily I don't have children, think I would have to have a separate tree for them if I did!

    I keep things pretty simple, the main part is the tree and then I 'jazz' up the mantlepiece as that is the main focal point in the room. Nothing more, nothing less and by the time the Christmas cards have gone up the decorating is complete! The only other part I do add some decs to is the hallway, I add abit of something over the radiator cover in the hallway and if I'm splashing out! I will put a wreath on the front door.

    I do tend to buy things in the sales and I've got a few investment pieces which I wheel out year upon year as I know they are classics.

  4. Great Post although I am in the real tree camp! Every year it is cheaper to buy one than in invest in a decent artificial one which I really want to do!

  5. We have two fake trees which appear year after year and still look fairly good! I love bringing in some fresh greenery from the garden also:)
    ~Anne xx

  6. So pretty!!! And I must admit, I'm quite the same...I need to do it, so it looks nice. But, I do let the girls decorate and then 'fix' it later :)) I really like your decorations, beautiful. Have a great day xx


  7. I'm exactly the same way. I have to control how things are decorated. And I'm a tree, candles and lights girl myself. I don't like a lot of things to pick up after Christmas.

  8. I also admit to redoing the tree. We get a real tree which we buy on a farm up the mountains and it is cut in front of us. It really adds to the atmosphere

  9. There are some great ideas here :)I love the tip about using a hoop to display christmas cards xx

  10. Your first paragraph made me laugh - seems I'm not the only one in this camp and judging from some of your comments there is many a 'Monica' out there! I always want to go down the artificial tree route but can never find one that looks convincing - yours looks good - don't suppose you can remember where it was from? ;) This conversation is making me feel really Christmassy! xx

    1. I seem to remember we looked everywhere - John Lewis , online, specialist stores and ended up at a local tacky garden centre ( called Otter Nurseries) that seemed to do the most realistic ones! I went kicking and screaming, but actually it looks almost real, if a little perfect!! X

  11. Beautiful ideas! I love your banister; it's gorgeous. We have to do an artificial tree. It's so dry here, the real trees never quite make it til the holiday and I'm always afraid of fire. Love that you admitted to fixing the ornaments. I ALWAYS do that :)

  12. It seems like we women are all from the Monica camp at heart!! Phew, glad I'm not the only one there!!

  13. LOvely post. We have two tress each year - s amll real one and the articifical one we bought in 1999 for £100 when I was pregnant with your youngest.

  14. Yup - I hold my hand up and am guilty as charged. I go down the artificial tree route as well - it's just worked out easier and cheaper in the long run and I always feel bad about all the trees left at the roadside waiting to be collected at the end of their life. And I have the same decorations every year now. I think I found my perfect decorations and just left it at that. If you look at our Christmas, last year, and the three years before that ... all the same. Gosh I'm boring ... or cheap.