Eating your first mince pie, watching the Coca Cola advert on TV or going to a Christmas lights switch-on – there are different things that scream, 'It's the start of Christmas!' But for many, it's picking out the Christmas tree with your loved ones and decorating it from top to toe.
We caught up with Samuel Lyle, owner of Pines and Needles, who is somewhat of a celebrity tree guru these days. His business, founded alongside Josh Lyle, has been around for 20 years but really made headlines in 2016 when Prince Harry and Meghan famously bought their first Christmas tree together from the company's Battersea Park store. Samuel shares his top tips on how to decorate your tree this year, and how to look after it…
The Christmas lights always go on first
It may sound obvious, but two people are better than one. The lights should go on first; get one person to start at the bottom of the tree and pass the lights around to the second person, winding around as you go higher. Embed the lights in the lush greenery and then move out as you go up.
Decorating is all about textures and layering
No matter what theme you choose, decide which of your decorations are the stand-out ones; they tend to be the largest or most detailed. Place those on the tree first and then use them as a basis to dress your tree around using your smaller, simpler decorations as 'fillers'.
Be inspired by the royals
The royal family's Christmas trees always have a traditional, very regal look. They tend to be rich in style and texture, so think deep red velvets, gold glass and silk ribbons. Large glass red and gold baubles can be teamed with hanging crystal cut teardrops or small detailed ornaments like small gold cherubs. And don't forget many, many warm white lights. For that ultimate 'royal but fun' look, pick decorations such as crowns, tiaras and corgis!
Nordic is a big trend
On the other end of the spectrum, Nordic is a big trend for 2018. The Scandinavians are kings of Christmas style with their effortless elegance. Embrace wooden decorations, snowflakes and delicately cut masterpieces; always opt for plain white fairy lights.
Wish for a White Christmas
Another trend for this year is White Christmas. Keep your decorations white but add an injection of silver for added sophistication. Glass décor is always welcome too for that ultra-crisp look.
Go whimsical and kitsch
Festive alpacas, llamas and unicorns will also be big this year. There are some very quirky designs out there, from the aforementioned animals to burgers, doughnuts, prosecco bottles and sausage dogs. The more flamboyant, the better.
Bring vintage back to life
The vintage look is making a comeback, which means embracing Victorian baubles and anything that is 70s kitsch. Festive bows are a simple decoration that will really make a statement, but hang them horizontally rather than at an angle for a cleaner look. Tinsel tends to be dying out sadly.
How to look after your tree
1. Cut the bottom 3cm off your tree once you get it home – this is vital for watering it.
2. Place your tree in plain water, not soil or sand which will block the pores. This is best achieved by using a specially designed Christmas tree stand.
3. Trees need around three pints of water a day, especially if the central heating is on full blast. This is very important as once the water level drops below the tree's trunk, sap will re-seal the bark within a few hours, preventing the tree from drinking any further water even if you then re-fill the Christmas tree stand.
4. Keep your tree away from any heat sources. Heat dries out your tree faster, so the fresher it will be if it's distanced from a radiator or a fireplace
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