When I was a kid, and into my early adulthood, I held the belief that Christmas decorating should only be embarked upon from the middle of December. Now I do it earlier, partly because I like having the smell of pine and the twinkle of fairy lights around for longer, partly because Christmas trees are so hilariously expensive that having one for just two weeks feels like a Saturnalian decadence, even during a literally Saturnalian holiday.
Anyway, my point is, it’s okay to start decorating. Yay!
Now renters, as ever, may have to work round various landlord-imposed restrictions, while apartment-dwellers of every variety might find they struggle for space, either for the decorations (especially the tree) or the storage of them. So here are some ideas for creating a Yuletide grotto while circumnavigating these problems.
1. Landlord won’t allow anything to be hung on the walls
This means you probably won’t even have a picture or a mirror to drape a bit of tinsel over. Bah Humbug landlords!
However, in recent years there has been a burgeoning trend for wall stickers and decals. These are made of a type of PVC that sticks to the wall without the aid of any adhesive, and peel off again just as easily, leaving no marks. There are loads of fun Christmas designs out there, so really the sky (or the ceiling at least) is the limit when it comes to how far you go with this.
2. No space for a Christmas tree
When you think about it, it is a bit strange to bring an entire tree into your home for a few weeks. It’s hardly surprising that the tradition came to Britain from Germany via Queen Victoria. With all the space at her disposal in the royal palaces it probably looked totally plausible to fill a fraction of it with a bit of pine forest. Even people with large rooms have to move furniture around to fit a tree in, so why not get a bit creative if there really isn’t space?
Christmas tree wall stickers are a great option. As mentioned above there are loads of designs and many are reusable, so it’s an economical idea.
You could also string fairy lights through house plants, over mantlepieces or window frames, turning your living room into a magical space. Alternatively, a mini-tree or arrangement of branches in a vase looks fabulous, as do some of these gorgeous contemporary options.
3. No space for storing decorations
This last one is likely to be the trickiest for a lot of people. I was lucky enough to have attic space in every place I lived right up until moving into the flat last year and as a result I’d blithely accumulated a lot of bulky Christmas decorations. Now I’ve had to organise them as efficiently as possible into archive boxes, but they still take up a lot of shelf space, and lets face it, many people don’t have any extra space at all.
One obvious way to get round this is to use disposable decorations, the traditional holly, ivy, mistletoe etc. gathered in woods is cheapest and greenest (in every sense), and I will be writing more about that in a couple of weeks. In the same vein, a real Christmas tree avoids the problem of storage of the biggest item (though comes with its own headaches of transport and disposal).
Paper decorations are a great solution. An abundance of paper snowflakes or old fashioned paper chains look glorious, and they can be made out of recycled paper, old newspapers and magazines or even fabric scraps. You could put them in the recycling after Christmas, or as they fold flat you might well have enough room to keep them for next year. Same goes for ribbons, which you can use extravagantly and then fold tidily into a drawer.
The paper idea works for tree ornaments as well. Add some home made designs to folding or flat shop-bought baubles, drape the branches with ribbons and lametta, or go all out and decorate your tree entirely with origami.
Lastly, you can’t beat edible Christmas tree decorations. Chocolates in foil, candy canes and – best of all – home-made cookies.
There are all kinds of ways to make your home festive this year, whether you’re restricted by rules, space or budget. Let us know if you are going to try any, or whether you’re a veteran paper chain maker who thinks Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without a bit of glue-and-glitter action!