Our monthly colum­nist, Lisa Daw­son, on Christ­mas prep­ping

When it comes to plan­ning your Christ­mas dé­cor, how early is too early?

Real Homes - - Contents -

This is a ques­tion I ask my­self ev­ery year. Oc­to­ber has barely ended and I’m trawl­ing Pin­ter­est for ideas; by the first week of Novem­ber, I’m pe­rus­ing Ebay for bar­gain pa­per dec­o­ra­tions and my colour scheme is set in stone. Pre­vi­ous years’ dec­o­ra­tions are held up for as­sess­ment, X Fac­tor-style, with only the best and most beau­ti­ful mak­ing it through au­di­tion stage to the fi­nals. Those that don’t hit the right notes are cast into the ‘Losers’ box and re­turned to garage stor­age. It’s hard­core.

The last week of Novem­ber, fes­tive ma­nia hits. The hall­way ban­nis­ter is laden with hon­ey­comb, pom-poms and eu­ca­lyp­tus – just ne­go­ti­at­ing the stairs through the bar­rage of pa­per jol­lity is a feat wor­thy of Bear Grylls. The kids are sent to for­age in the woods for branches suit­able for fairy light fes­toon­ing, the only vaguely out­doorsy ac­tiv­ity they’ll have done all year (if you don’t count build­ing fortresses on Minecraft). And then, fi­nally, the tree will go up.

There is a method to my early dec­o­rat­ing mad­ness. One, the Christ­mas sea­son is a busy time on In­sta­gram – there are more trees than a Fin­nish for­est, and if your twin­kle’s not on fleek, you’re not in the game. And two, my daugh­ter, Ella, has her birth­day on 28 De­cem­ber. She’s never al­lowed Joe and I to for­get our in­abil­ity to plan con­cep­tion on a date that would take into ac­count the fes­tive sea­son and, as such, we try and dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween the two joy­ous oc­ca­sions by tak­ing the tree down the day af­ter Box­ing Day. De­spite the fact that we are ob­vi­ously not fol­low­ing the Twelve Days Of Christ­mas rule, I se­cretly quite like the fact we are nee­dle free by the 27th.

For many years, we have had a real tree, em­bark­ing on a fam­ily trip to the lo­cal tree farm to find the big­gest, best and most per­fect tree that it is pos­si­ble to grow. In­vari­ably, we’ll get home to dis­cover it’s far too large for the space and end up hav­ing to re­po­si­tion an en­tire room of fur­ni­ture just to ac­com­mo­date it. The prob­lem, of course, that arises from erect­ing your tree so early is that it’s com­pletely dead by the big day. So last year, we threw cau­tion to the wind and went full out faux. Not just any faux, oh no, pre-lit, seven-foot-high, four-foot-wide faux. A ver­i­ta­ble King of Faux. It was glo­ri­ous. Per­fectly shaped, gleam­ingly green, its 500 bulbs lit up the bay win­dow like a bea­con and could be seen across fields from three miles away. I dec­o­rated it with faux pink pe­onies and roses and swathed it in chif­fon rib­bon – it was more wed­ding cake than Christ­mas pud­ding but looked amaze­balls. No droop­ing and no nee­dle in­juries. Win­ning.

One of my favourite things about the fes­tive sea­son is that it is ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial to eat at least one mince pie ev­ery day of the month. It’s an ac­tual law. Ev­ery visit to the su­per­mar­ket sees me throw­ing at least two boxes into the trol­ley with aban­don. Party food is an­other De­cem­ber rule in our house. Satur­day nights will see us tri­alling the range of ev­ery su­per­mar­ket across the coun­try, a dif­fer­ent one ev­ery week. We’re bru­tal in our cri­tique – mini toad in the hole, spring rolls, tem­pura prawns – no nib­ble is safe from our marks-out-of-10 grad­ing. We know how to live in York­shire.

So the an­swer to my ques­tion?

It’s never, ever, too early. Throw on your Christ­mas jumper, deck the halls, un­cork the Cava, bring out the mince pies and en­joy ev­ery mo­ment of the best month of the year.

Happy Christ­mas ev­ery­one. FOL­LOW LISA @_lisa_­daw­son_

‘The kids are sent to for­age in the woods for branches suit­able for fairy light fes­toon­ing’

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