How To Dress The Christmas Tree Without Losing Your Sanity First

One piece of advice I will be eternally grateful to my mother for is ‘don’t take life too seriously,’ and I have been forced to live by this approach each year as I dress the Christmas Tree. 23915791_1546298868783446_2538083681710659730_n




And it has very nearly killed me.


Every year I think that this will be the year we grow up as a family and I will be allowed to create those trees you see in home magazines, where they don’t have kids or animals and they do have loads of money,  and every year it’s the same. Either: a) I’m disappointed with the result, because it looks boring rather than sophisticated and so and I start to slap all the crappy ornaments and tinsel back onto it, or b) Kurt redesigns he thinks I’m not looking.


I know that Christmas is about bringing joy to the family and it’s probably about time that I accepted that my family likes a bit of kitsch at Christmas, but…


This year I decided to grasp my first opportunity to decorate the tree myself – although the kids don’t know that yet. I’d meticulously planned the day for a while – it’s called taking advantage while the kids are out earning money (not for rent, I hasten to add, but for their weekly supply of avocado on toast and party drugs). ‘It just happened that way,’ I’m going to say when their disappointed faces walk through the door later this evening and they realize that they can’t destroy my Christmas tree, nay my Christmas, for the first time in, like, forever.


And I have made some style improvements this year. I have decided that as the kids still live at home on the basis of our goodwill, I get to say what goes on MY fucking tree. Which means I’ve erased all memory of those dreadful kindy homemade decorations which for the past fifteen years I’ve stuck around the back of the tree and the minute I turn my back, Kurt replaces at the front; and I’ve also attempted a color theme, so any ornament that hasn’t met the stringent demands of my design brief has copped it.


In light of my new experience today, here are my tips for a perfect tree:


Do not let the children anywhere near it.

A bottle of festive wine will be required before attempting to unravel the lights/tinsel/fake snowballs on a string because some selfish fucker just shoved them in the box last year. This is a mindfuck of a test in the early stages of the process that (if you’re not careful/drunk enough) can completely ruin your festive cheer before you’ve really started.

Use a dodgy adapter for the lights so that any children that do touch the tree will be shocked into not touching it again.

Lather the branches in as much tinsel as they will hold for superior kitschiness.

The more naff animal ornaments, the naffer your tree will be.

Destroy any baubles that do not tie in with your color theme – don’t get all emotional about the fugly bauble that your grandmother left you – your creativity is under public scrutiny here, and the glass ball wrapped in a doily could fuck that up. It is with sadness that I must report that the pink bauble that NC made in her first year at school (barf!) didn’t coordinate with the organic effect that I hoped to achieve with my white/red/aqua/tropical/Hamptons/beach themed tree – as such, it has been laid to rest this year.

Theming is difficult with OCD. Try to remind yourself that the tree is a natural thing (mine happens to be artificially natural) and therefore not perfect. If that doesn’t work, take everything off and start again.

Book cats into the cattery for the duration of the holidays or use as an alternative to turkey for Christmas lunch.


16 Tips On How To Decorate A Christmas Tree With Children

Christmas tree

It’s the festive season again. That time of the year when we parents are forced to spend quality time with our children in the name of religion. That time when the artificial tree is rescued from foraging Huntsman in the storage space under the house, or the ‘long-lasting’ real tree begins its three day period of looking good, before it dehydrates, droops and slowly dies.

Decorating the tree should be an activity that the whole family can get involved in – but don’t be deceived – there is no surer way to jumpstart some good old-fashioned family Christmas dysfunctionality than with arguments over which decorations will make the final cut on the tree.

So to help you and your family attempt to enjoy this year’s dressing of the tree, here are my tips:

  • Put on the Christmas playlist to create the mood and calm you – there is no better way to drown out noisy arguments over whose bauble should be at the front of the tree, than with some Bing or Boney M.
  • Having carefully haggled negotiated your best price with the scouts (if you buy a real tree), let’s hope you had the foresight to check that the stump will fit into your stand. Never fall for the crap about a tree being able to stand up for longer than a few minutes in a bucket of sand or mud, without the support of a winch or indoor crane.
  • If you have to retrieve the artificial tree from under the house, get someone you don’t like to check for deadly spiders first. They’re crafty those critters, so don’t be fooled – those tiny white balls cleverly concealed as snow among the branches, may actually be Huntsman babies waiting to exact revenge for that time you killed their grandfather in the shower, and you don’t want those sorts of uninvited guests to suddenly appear at the Christmas Dinner table.
  • Drink your first glass of Champagne to truly embrace the Christmas spirit.
  • Remind the kids AGAIN that the lights must go on the tree first, even though you’ve told them the same fucking thing since their first Christmas. Test the lights before they are arranged on the tree because there will always be some bitch of a bulb that has been waiting for its moment all year, and will invariably be positioned in the most difficult part to reach.
  • Treat yourself to a second glass of Champagne to celebrate that those cheap Target lights are still working (at this stage).
  • Remind the kids that the second stage of the decorating process is to put on the tinsel and beads and NOT THE FUCKING DECORATIONS, JUST YET. They will also need gently reminding that there is a special way to do this, so that the tree does not end up looking like six blind Morris dancers have decorated it.
  • That third glass of Champagne will be beckoning at this point.
  • FINALLY you can allow the kids to begin decorating the tree. Referee the inevitable dispute over whether that 70’s angel (with her filthy white dress) truly warrants poll position at the top of your the tree, (indicating to the neighbours that you possess no style whatsoever), but kids can usually be persuaded that the driftwood star is a better option with a discussion about recycling or the bribe promise of an extra gift. Try to steady your breathing as they proceed to pick all the fugliest and oldest decorations in the box (the ones you forgot to throw out last year) and attempt to place them at the front of the tree, safe in the knowledge that you can move each one of these to THE BACK once the kids are safely tucked up in bed.
  • To avoid the tree looking like some pre-school, child-friendly, organic or (heaven forbid) amateur tree, place all those truly revolting, home/school-made ornaments to the back of the tree as well, and explain to the kids that the back looks lonely without them. While it is important for children to embrace the concept of recycling, that is a part of their education that they can practise at school, without having to tarnish your home styling reputation. There will be sad faces and crocodile tears but this is an invaluable lesson in accessorising, sharing and working together, and usually one of those tacky supermarket stockings full of chocolate bars will help them forget those hideous doilie decorations that their teacher planned as revenge for you not volunteering for canteen duty.

    Glanbia, principal cream supplier to Baileys I...

  • Move onto the expensive wine you bought for Christmas Dinner.
  • Lametta can be pretty (if you’re blind) for that final touch, but make no mistake, you will be picking up strands of it off the floor for the next year.
  • Time for the Baileys.
  • The moment of truth finally arrives. Remind your (now sobbing) children that this is supposed to be a happy, uniting, family time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and that Jesus doesn’t like spoilt, ungrateful children and Santa certainly won’t show up if they behave in that way. Turn off the power and turn on the tree.
  • Say ‘WOW! LOOK WHAT WE DID?’ or ‘Doesn’t our tree look wonderful?’ as authentically as possible, while trying to resist the urge to rearrange the whole tree or hiccough from your very first personal pre-Christmas drinking session.
  • Send the kids to bed, strip the tree, open the Champagne and start all over again.