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As the Christ­mas trees went up around Lon­don’s land­marks, Rachel Loos dis­cov­ers how we should be dec­o­rat­ing ours this year…

IN ONE OF the more un­usual Christ­mas tree themes, last week pic­tures showed Me­la­nia Trump walk­ing be­tween 40 scar­let berry trees in the East Wing of the White House. So­cial me­dia lit up with memes, in­clud­ing one where the trees were topped by white bon­nets, à la The Hand­maid’s Tale. So if Me­la­nia’s choice has been uni­ver­sally panned, what should we be do­ing with our trees this year? The ob­vi­ously ar­ti­fi­cial tree – es­pe­cially if it looks like it’s been drenched in rhe­sus neg­a­tive – is def­i­nitely out. ‘Peo­ple want max­i­mum re­al­ism,’ says Dan Cooper, Christ­mas buyer at John Lewis, which has seen a 72% growth in sales of real trees. ‘Even if they buy an ar­ti­fi­cial tree, they want it to look as real as pos­si­ble.’

One trend is the ta­ble-top tree – it’s real but so much more man­age­able than a six-footer. ‘Our sales have dou­bled year on year from 2015, show­ing just how pop­u­lar smaller trees are be­com­ing,’ says Sara Gor­don of Bloom & Wild.

As for dec­o­rat­ing, with so much doom and gloom around, 2018 is all about chan­nelling hap­pi­ness and fun. This year, Geraldine Tan of blog Lit­tle Big Bell will treat her 270,000 Insta fol­low­ers to a tree dec­o­rated with baubles in orange, yel­low and lime. ‘I wanted to cre­ate some­thing bright, light, happy and op­ti­mistic as we ap­proach 2019,’ she says.

Last Christ­mas, she was one of a num­ber of in­flu­encers who cre­ated the rain­bow tree with baubles hung in bands of colour. It has gone main­stream this year, prov­ing a pop­u­lar ad­di­tion to John Lewis’s Christ­mas range. ‘A lot of our cus­tomers are com­ing in and buy­ing the whole look,’ says Dan. ‘It’s a tree that’s about in­clu­siv­ity and hap­pi­ness and the rain­bow is uni­ver­sally liked as a sym­bol.’

Kitsch dec­o­ra­tions are a hot, hot trend – and the more bonkers the bet­ter. ‘ We are see­ing a more-is-more ap­proach, with peo­ple not tak­ing their tree too se­ri­ously and us­ing lots of mis­matched baubles,’ says a Lib­erty Lon­don spokesper­son. ‘ Veg­etable dec­o­ra­tions are a par­tic­u­lar hit this year – with gar­lic, as­para­gus and av­o­cado baubles be­ing a sell-out suc­cess.’

At on­line bou­tique Rock­ett St Ge­orge, the gold Con­verse-style sneaker dec­o­ra­tions have sold out, and the Peeled Banana is fly­ing. Iconic fig­ures, such as those of Frida Kahlo and David Bowie, are also prov­ing pop­u­lar.

And hur­rah! Tin­sel is back in from the cold, too – DJ Jo Whi­ley named Rock­ett’s tin­sel with baubles as her Christ­mas es­sen­tial dec­o­ra­tion. At the same time, the nat­u­ral look re­mains strong. Creative con­sul­tant Matilda Goad, whose scal­lop-shaped lamp­shades were a big thing for 2018, will be com­bin­ing real-life scal­lop shells with on-trend straw stars ( hers are from Swe­den; if you’re su­per-fast, you might be able to snap up the last few packs at ra­j­tent­

But per­haps the most un­usual trend is for two trees. ‘Peo­ple have a state­ment tree in their main en­ter­tain­ing space that’s smart and stylish, and a fam­ily tree for their nos­tal­gic dec­o­ra­tions,’ says John Lewis’s Dan Cooper. Still, there are al­ways some Christ­mas afi­ciona­dos who refuse to be swayed by trends. ‘I’m res­o­lutely anti-tree trends,’ says Kate Wat­son-smyth from blog Mad About The House. ‘For me, the tree is all about fam­ily mem­o­ries. I look for­ward to fetch­ing the box of baubles from the at­tic and re­mem­ber­ing where each one came from as I hang it. It’s a won­der­ful mo­ment to look back over the year – and in­deed the years.’

State­ment (clock­wise trees from top): Clar­idge’s; Vic­to­ria Beck­ham’s store; The Lon­don Edi­tion ho­tel; Aqua Shard restau­rant

Let­ter­box tree, £34 (bloomand­

Bauble, £14.95, (lib­erty­lon­

Bauble + tin­sel gar­land, £22 (rock­ettst­ge­

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