La Chatte Gitane (or The Gypsy Cat) was the name we chose for our cottage in France. We chose it while on the road, moving home, from Ireland to France with 2 dogs and 7 cats in the car.
This blog began its insignificant life as a recipe book for friends and family who would ask me repeatedly for a recipe of this, that and the other.
Since then it has taken many different directions, like gypsies tend to do. Sometimes making a U-turn and revisiting familiar roads and taking a break when necessary.
You'll find recipes here, but also musings about the places we've called home, the gardens that we've established, not always successfully, the homes we've improved and the environments we've lived in. Currently, that is back in Ireland.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Decorating for Christmas - The Tree

I've only ever known 'Real' Christmas trees till 4 years ago.  No way was I going with a fake one, I exclaimed when Bert would tell me to stop fussing around at the real-tree-provider's places until I got a perfect one.

Nature though, is fickle.  And the perfectly shaped christmas tree is difficult to find, so 4 winters ago I gave in and bought a fake variety that really looks the business.  It didn't come cheap, no.  But I've yet to meet someone who knows it isn't the real McCoy once it's decorated.

How to go about decorating the tree (real or fake). A few pointers first and I'll go in more detail later.
  1. Choose a colour scheme or  a theme. 
  2. Sort out baubles by colour and importance. Also the tinsel, garlands, ribbons need sorting by colour/size.
  3. Untangle your christmas lights. If you're anything like me they will be tangled up, even if you have rolled them up neatly last year.
  4. Place lights in said tree. 
  5. Drape the tinsel  garlands in tree.
  6. Hang baubles.
  7. Tie ribbon bows around branches.
  8. Tweak.
  9. Arrange star/angel... on top
  10. Admire.

These 10 steps to your perfectly decorated tree are all good and well, but each step needs a bit more explanation, in my opinion.  So here goes.

Colour scheme or theme.
  • If you choose a theme, the colour choice is of less importance as each of your decorations will speak for itself.  My best friend chooses to decorate her tree with angels of all sorts and her sister in law (also my friend) adorns her tree with birds. That in itself will create enough impact for them not to worry about a colour scheme.
  • When going with certain colours, make sure it doesn't clash with the rest of your interior, unless that is what you're going for, then do it with conviction and purpose. Most of us though coordinate the decorations to our sofa colour, scatter cushions, walls,..... You can of course change your cushions and throws for the season so that it makes for a cohesive look
  • I've gone through all kinds of colour combos in my time.  Red and gold, blue and silver, copper and burned oranges with gold thrown in.  For the last 3 years I've been collecting (buying) turquoise, duck egg blues, old and fuchsia pinks for my tree.  It works well with our interior which is mainly white with accents in these vibrant hues. I give warmth with my old gold and copper baubles.  My aim is for a bohemian inspired tree.
Baubles, tinsel and garlands
  • On your dining table sort out your baubles by colour - that's if you haven't bothered after taking down the decorations last year. Ahum. That's is what usually happens in our abode. This time I had them all stored by colour. I did this as I was starting to pack them up for our big house move to Ireland.

  • Most of my baubles have been provided (by me) with ribbons to tie them to the tree. I prefer them to hang close to the branches in stead of dangling off them. This is the time to thread the ribbons through or if you like to 'dangle', have the hooks ready.

  • Tinsel, ribbons and other garlands. If they are lenghty, pompous, big and all ladedah they will go in first, after the lights. More dainty ones go in after the baubles.  Arrange them on the table and you're in real trouble if you don't own a cat to help you out with this task.

 The Christmas lights
  • Here is my problem (or at least one of them). How many lights for your tree ? They come in so many diferent sizes these days now that LED lights are the ones to have, that I am flumoxed. The more lights in your tree the better the effect, so go for a vast amount of lamps. Go for as many as you can afford. 
  • Choose, warm or cold light, plain or coloured. An important factor all depending on the mood you want to create. I will always go for warm plain lights. And I don't want them to be flickering. If you go out to buy new lights these are all factors to consider and you'd better read the packaging as they normally don't come cheap.
  • If you have stored the christmas lights properly you will have no problems whatsoever with a tangled up mess. Ahum - yet again. If you have a husband with the patience of a saint (like mine) he will do all the untangling for you while you get on with more important stuff, like pouring another glass of port or putting on the next christmas cd. If you don't own one of these willing helpers you have to do the untangling yourself and beware, by the time you have polished off the bottle of port you will be left with the lights in more knots than when you started. Nowadays I don't touch the stuff.

Place lights in tree

  •  BEFORE you do untangle them, plug them in to see if they are sitll in working order.
  • The lights go in first. Hopefully you have found a place for the tree close enough near a socket. I always start at the top with the one end of the light string and spiral around the tree downwards as the electric source is nearer to the floor. Plug in and squint your eyes to see if the lights are evenly distributed. Tweak if necessary.
The tinsel garlands are in second.
  • They follow the same spiral direction of the light string. Just above or below. You don't want them obscuring all the twinkle that you have painstakingly wrestled with for the last three hours. Push them somewhat in between the branches too. You need the branch ends free for the baubles.
The baubles
  • I start with the biggest and most prominent ones. Distribute around the tree. I fill in the gaps with all the rest. Easy peasy. From time to time step away from the tree to look at it from a distance. Tweak.
Bows, ribbons, feathers and more tinsel
  • Ends of ribbons that I have gathered over the years will be tied onto the branches into bows. I also tie feathers in my favourite colours to the end of branches and end with angel hair tinsel.

Tweak one more time

Star, angel, fairy or peak for the tree top
  • Place carefully on top. It's the icing on the cake, the jewel in the crown.  I have two willow stars that I have given a lick of copper and gold.  They've been on the tree for years.

Step back and admire

Thank you for visiting and I wish everyone a happy christmas season.
Patricia xxx...x


  1. Splendid tree! Really very beautiful.
    Re the lights ... buy yourself a tree with built-in leds and forget about the "untangle your christmas lights" part.
    Merry Christmas, Patricia!

    1. Thanks Myriam. Must admit that this is last year's tree. Still working on decorating the present one.
      If I only had known about the built-in leds when we bought this tree. Tssk... :D

  2. Where did you find such a realistic tree.. it is gorgeous!

    1. Hi regina,
      I bought it while living in Belgium. Faux trees have come a long way in the last decade or so. Mind you, we paid around the 250 € mark for it. It stands 240 cm tall.

  3. Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for a Happy New Year!
    Bring you Good wishes of happiness.

    Sorry for greeting you earlier,, just don't want miss saying this.
    By the way, I'm clotee. It's my first time visiting your blog. I am blogger too, and now try my best luck to open an e-store. Nice to know you.


  4. Great tips, I remember as a child we'd use all sorts of things to decorate the tree with, from earrings to old toys!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...