ETIQUETTE expert William Hanson tells Joel Cooper the do’s and don’ts of festive decorating.
But do you agree?
ANY FALSE IS NAFF: Fake trees suck because they never have the appeal or quality of the real deal. If you are worried about pine needles falling off, get a good quality tree and put it in water – it will fall off less. And don’t get me started on pre-lit trees. The fun part is having that blank, green canvas and building it.
DON’T TRY – AND DON’T FAIL – TO START A NEW TREND: Amanda Holden seems to have mistaken her Christmas tree for a turkey by placing feathers on top. You’re not sticking a bauble in the turkey, and it’s the same principle. Amanda may be setting a trend and in a few years it might be done, but right now it feels weird.
PUT AN UNAESTHETIC DECOR IN THE BACK: A tree will normally go in the corner of the room so you can always hide unsightly sentimental trinkets. That’s what my parents did with the decorations we made at school.
Myleene Klass’ tree is an exception to this – nothing matches, but it all goes well together, so it’s not an assault on the eyes.
USING A NATURAL DECOR SHOWS THAT YOU ARE CREATIVE: Decorating your living room with holly, mistletoe and berries is good, and usually compostable too. A poinsettia is the traditional Christmas flower, while holly in a vase will look great. Mistletoe is nice, but not hanging from a doorway, so put it in a vase and make sure it’s facing up. Arranging a centerpiece with ivy and berries is smart and shows that you are creative.
AVOID YANKEE CANDLES: Frankly, there’s never a time or place for a Yankee Candle. An advent calendar is traditional, where you light up a little each day. Candles on the dining table are fine in the evening, but at lunch you should smell food, not a candle.
AN IMPERFECT TREE IS A SIGN OF CLASS: Not all Christmas trees are perfect and if yours is wobbly, that’s not a faux pas. If you go to aristocratic homes, things are usually never quite perfect. To be upper class, nothing should be matched or overly stylish, it should be tasteful and understated.
OUTSIDE LIGHTS MEANS PEOPLE ARE LAUGHING AT YOU: LIGHTS outside homes are almost always seen in undesirable neighborhoods. If you like them, it’s probably because you come from such a neighborhood. However, lighting up a tree outside if it’s particularly old or tall might seem smart. But use bright, not multicolored lights.
FAIRIES ARE NOT SUITABLE FOR A TREE: A winged fairy just isn’t the right thing for discerning households. Dame Joan Collins has a fairy at the top of her tree – let’s hope it’s a family heirloom, because otherwise it’s very common. A fairy did not lead the Magi to Bethlehem, it was a star. A star must be silver or gold.
ROYAL BLUE IS ROYAL: Amanda Holden earns points for using royal blue and has a little redeemed herself if you look past the feathers. Royal blue is all the rage, but there’s always a risk that if you follow a trend this year, you won’t next year, so it’s safer to go classic.
ALREADY DECORATED? YOU ARE COMMON: A good social test is what time someone plants their tree. If you put it up on Christmas Eve, you’re number one. If you have it now, I’m sorry to say you’re common.
SAY TA-TA TO GARLANDS: Tinsel remains the antichrist of decorations. Although some trees – even royal trees in the 1980s – have been seen with a touch of garland, it’s the most common Christmas accessory. It never looks good, is horrible to touch and is a waste of money.
Don’t overdo it: IF your tree is so decorated that you can’t see the tree itself, that’s no good. Tamara Ecclestone’s tree is a perfect example. There should be no more than two thirds of decoration. Anyone with an aesthetic eye understands that less is more.
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