Putting up your Christmas tree long before December has always been considered rather vulgar, with traditionalists sneering that any earlier than the start of Advent — the fourth Sunday before Christmas — is really not the done thing.
Until now, that is. The latest lockdown has prompted swathes of women to rip up the festive rule book in order to deck their halls super early.
Here, SADIE NICHOLAS meets five women who are embracing Christmas this year by going early — and big — with their decorations.
I COULD NOT RESIST FAIRY DECORATIONS IN OCTOBER
Alison Smith, 48, is a wedding venue stylist and lives in Warrington, Cheshire. She has a son who is 25. She says:
When I walk into my house and see my 8 ft, fairy-themed, artificial Christmas tree shimmering before me, it’s impossible not to smile.
Putting it up in October was exceptionally early but, after such a challenging year, during which 100 of the weddings that I had been hired to style were postponed, my overriding view was ‘sod it’.
Alison Smith, 48, (pictured) said: ‘When I walk into my house and see my 8 ft, fairy-themed, artificial Christmas tree shimmering before me, it’s impossible not to smile’
I’ve never put it up this early before. It happened by accident when I started shopping early for decorations for clients, worried that wholesalers may have to close at any moment with the ever-changing restrictions.
When I spotted fairy and toadstool decorations on sale I could not resist. They made me smile instantly — something I haven’t done an awful lot of this year.
The tree and trimmings cost around £500 but I have worked exceptionally hard to keep my business going through the pandemic and, having treated myself to little else this year, I decided to have a little splurge.
I laboured on the tree for ten hours. It took another few hours to dress the staircase. I also made a heart-shaped wreath for my front door with a sign saying ‘fairies welcome’.
The reaction from everyone who has been to the house has been ‘wow!’. Although my son has grown up and lives with his fiancee, I love the magic of Christmas.
Come Twelfth Night on January 5, when we are supposed to take our decorations down, mine will have been up for over two months.
LAPLAND TRIP WAS CANCELLED SO I CREATED THE MAGIC HERE
Terri Hamilton, 33, manages rental properties and lives in Berkshire with her husband Paul, 34, a business owner, and their two children Ella, seven, and Jack, five. She says:
Four weeks ago I decided to put up our four Christmas trees and staircase garland early as a surprise for my children.
The joy etched on their faces when they arrived home from school to an indoor wonderland was magical.
Terri Hamilton, 33, (pictured) decided to put up her four Christmas trees and staircase garland early as a surprise for her children
Like millions of children they have had so much taken away from them by the pandemic, including school, time with their friends, birthday parties and holidays.
I asked my husband to get the decorations down from the loft after Halloween. The same week, I bought everything to make the garlands, as well as two new trees.
At 50 metres long, the garland goes all the way up the staircase, around the galleried landing above and down the other side. It cost around £200.
I’ve added almost 4,000 cluster lights at £100, as well as baubles, fir cones and pearlised berries.
Standing proud at the bottom of the stairs are two full-size nutcrackers, an 8 ft tree on the landing and a 7.5 ft tree in the lounge. We also have a 5 ft tree in the dining room.
Our planned trip to Lapland this Christmas has been cancelled, so creating a festive wonderland at home is my way of trying to make everything extra magical here for Ella and Jack instead.
MY SPARKLY STAIRWAY HAS GOT ME THROUGH
Jenny Bennett, 37, owns a beauty salon and lives near Morpeth, Northumberland, with her partner, Kevin, 44, a landlord and property owner. She says:
Come late afternoon, when darkness begins to fall, I switch on the thousands of fairy lights on the garland either side of the grand, sweeping staircase.
As festive sparkle fills the hallway of our six-bedroom home, my mood lightens and I often sit on the stairs to take it all in, delighted that I put the decorations up three weeks earlier than usual.
But it’s not just the finished garlands and 8 ft tree at the bottom of the staircase that have lifted my spirits.
Jenny Bennett, 37, said she put her decorations up three weeks earlier than usual as the fairy lights help lighten her mood
Lockdown restrictions mean my business has been closed for five of the past eight months, so the
process of putting up the decorations over two days gave me a much-needed creative outlet.
Each garland consists of four, 9 ft pieces that I found on eBay and wound together. I added artificial berries, faux flowers and over 2,000 fairy lights.
I’ve spent more than £500 creating it. After such a miserable year, I’ve also put up the tree super-early. We need some magic in our lives now!
This year may have been far from sparkling — but our home definitely is.
IT’S OUR FESTIVE FAMILY SANCTUARY
Francine Edge, 56, is a housewife and lives in Bury, Lancashire, with her husband Paul, 62, who owns a travel business. They have four children and three grandchildren. She says:
At the start of this month I hired an interior stylist to decorate our second home, a three-bedroom lodge an hour’s drive away on the edge of the Lake District.
It’s a luxury that my husband treated me to last Christmas when I was having treatment for breast cancer and simply wasn’t well enough to put up the decorations myself.
Francine Edge, 56, (pictured) hired an interior stylist to decorate our second home at the start of the month and it has given her ‘such a boost’
Ordinarily we love to congregate at our lodge as one big family to celebrate Christmas, usually in early December so that none of the children feel pressure to divide themselves between us and their in-laws or partners on Christmas Day.
When I was ill, Paul wanted to ensure that the lodge was still a sanctuary of festive loveliness.
So we got in touch with Alison from lastingmemories.org.uk after a friend recommended her.
She did such a wonderful job that we decided to hire her again this year — even earlier this time.
The events of the past year — my health, Paul’s business being hit hard by the pandemic and being kept apart from our children — have made family time even more precious.
It took Alison and her assistant two days to trim the 8 ft artificial tree in the main living area with layers of luxurious gold, copper and bronze glass baubles, leaves, silk ribbons and lanterns.
There are matching garlands on the staircase, fireplace and over an archway between rooms, as well as hundreds of fairy lights.
We paid £500, which is an extravagance in the current climate, but it has given me such a boost, as well as hope that at least some of us will be
DAZZLING WHITE REINDEER TAKE CENTRE STAGE IN OUR LIVING ROOM
Lucia Robertson, 43, is an interior designer and lives in Sale, Cheshire, with husband Mark, 43, a professional football scout, and their children Taylor, 20, and Alexander, 17. She says:
It Is almost a month since I transformed one of our living rooms into a winter wonderland with a dazzling, 7 ft, white and silver tree as the centrepiece.
It has lit up our home in more ways than one.
Lucia Robertson, 43, (pictured) said: ‘After such a challenging year I decided that if 2020 isn’t an excuse to go really early with the decorations, then what is?’
After such a challenging year I decided that if 2020 isn’t an excuse to go really early with the decorations, then what is?
My son, who is on the books at Manchester City, dashes home from football training in the cold and wet and gravitates to the cosiness and sparkle of that room, while my daughter, who set up her business during the first lockdown, can often be found working in there.
It’s a room where we love to congregate as a family — which we have doing a lot over the past few months.
It’s lovely to sit in there in the glow of the fairy lights. We also have a green faux fir adorned with glamorous black and gold baubles and silk flowers to match the decor in the more formal main living room, and a slender, 6 ft tree in our bedroom with a restful white and grey colour scheme.
The white and silver tree is especially mesmerising. I have also changed the cushions on the sofas to embrace the colour scheme, and put white fur ‘skirts’ at the base of the tree to resemble snow.
The tree cost £300 from Wayfair and is decorated with ribbons, baubles and trinkets that I have collected in recent years, including some beautiful little diamante stilettos for added bling and sparkle.
There are also ornamental reindeer bought from the local garden centre, and festive ginger-scented candles, which I light at dusk.
I would keep the white tree up all year round if I could. But by January, I know it will have to be packaged away for another year.