Planning Ahead for Christmas - Decorations

Christmas can be a wonderful occasion, but the planning for it can often cause stress and financial worry for the people involved. Therefore, in order to try and allow you the most relaxing time with your family, I’ve come up with a series of articles about how to plan ahead for the many and varied aspects of creating a lovely Christmas for you, your family and your friends.

Christmas candle

In this post, I plan to suggest a few ideas for decorating your home for Christmas so that you’re able to create a relaxed, festive atmosphere that will be the icing on the (Christmas) cake! If you think about it in advance, hopefully it will be possible to avoid a stressful few hours spent dragging things out of the loft and frantically thrusting them onto a lopsided tree (or is that just me?!).

1. Set aside a weekend

Choose a date well in advance and plan out where you’ll go to get your tree (if you prefer a real one), making sure that you have the necessary bucket or tree stand ready for when you get home. It helps to get all your decorations out and have them ready to go on the tree, perhaps to fit a theme you have in mind (if you’re like my mum) or to try and fit as many glittery ones on as possible (if you’re like me). Put the lights on first, then the tinsel, then finish off with the baubles.

2. Make decorations with children

I’ve mentioned this in another post (‘Planning for Christmas - ideas for children’) which also has some links to great Christmas craft activities to complete with children. One of the lovely aspects of Christmas is its emphasis on family and spending time on things like this with your children will really help you all to feel the Christmas spirit. Children will love being involved and will be so proud to see their handiwork displayed in your home. It’s also a useful way to fill an afternoon or two when you’re stuck indoors thanks to the wintery weather!

3. Candles and fairy lights

Lighting is a brilliant way to enhance any type of decorative display and fairy lights can be used in many places other than on the tree, especially now the nights are longer and there’s more darkness around. Strung up in window frames, over pictures and mirrors, or even heaped in a glass bowl as a table centre, they always set the mood and require minimum effort to set up. It’s a good idea to check all your fairy lights before you pack them away each year, replacing any bulbs that may have gone. When you get them out again the following year, have another quick check before you hang them up - there’s nothing more frustrating than discovering they don’t work after having artfully draped them around your tree. Candles are a beautiful way to decorate your home as well, particularly scented ones (which many of the supermarkets stock quite cheaply now). With both lights and candles, please make sure that you consider safety at all times and don’t have trailing cables or leave flames unattended.

4. Collect things from nature

Christmas pine-cone

If you’re decorating on a budget (or even if you’re not), collecting items that are commonly found in nature can draw us back to simpler times and give your home a lovely rustic feel. You could have a collection of pine cones in bowl, or sprigs of holly on top of pictures and mirrors. Sticks and fallen leaves spray-painted gold and silver can be placed in vases and displayed to great effect. Just make sure to thoroughly dry out all the items you find to avoid an unpleasant rotting smell a week or two later.

5. Save yourself some money

Don’t feel as though you have to buy new decorations each year. I love the fact that we have family heirloom decorations that were my mum’s and my granny’s interspersed with those that we’ve bought ourselves on special holidays and those which look nice but aren’t especially sentimental. Sometimes just choosing baubles by colour or size is enough to create a very different feel for your tree each year, or you could even just vary the colour of tinsel that you use.

6. Group things together and then leave some clear space

I always feel very tempted to put out every single decoration that I own until there is no free space available for anything else. Please be stronger than me and try and resist doing this! Decorate a few areas with loving care and attention to detail, but leave some space between them as well. Not only will this mean that you and family are not completely overstimulated, but also that the decorations you do use will have more impact. Plan out which areas of your home would look best when decorated and focus on those.

7. Pack decorations away carefully

Technically this is a tip for after Christmas, but it’s still worth including, I think. Pack your decorations away according to theme / type / colour or whatever makes sense for you. Label boxes clearly. This means that when you come to get them out again, you won’t waste time searching through them just trying to get them in order before you even start the decorating process.

8. Give everyone a job so that they can all help

It’s a special time of year and getting the rest of your family to help with the decorating will make them feel good and will ease the burden for you. Just make sure that if, like my mum, you have a very clear idea of how you’d like things to look that your vision is shared with the team. If not, you’ll probably find yourself creeping down in the middle of the night to adjust it all, which sort of defeats the purpose!