We all know the way we really should be doing the tree is to stand back, with an indulgent, parental look on our faces and provide the children with a box of garish baubles and carte blanche to decorate the tree in whatever way their innocent, un- cynical little minds see fit. This however, is the complete opposite of what really happens to that object of paranoia and annual angst; The Christmas Tree.
Now, unless you are in the enviable position of being able to instruct the Filipino maid to hurl a few tasteful adornments at the thing, then you are going to have to get involved yourself. Long gone are the days when you could get away with a tree more colourful than Zandra Rhodes hair. Christmas should be all about goodwill to your fellow man, Auld Lang Syne and getting p***ed together and to a large extent that is still possible, but only if you meet your fellow, festive frolickers on mutual, common ground. Just once invite people into your home for a drop of Sherry and a mince pie and you know the second they clap eyes on your tree, they will be judging you and comparing your efforts to their own (obviously superior) pine. The most disturbing thing about this competitive scrutiny is the worrying doubt in the back of the mind that it spills over into other areas of your life. Just imagine having the contents of your fridge or your choice of toilet paper held up to constant appraisal.
Every year the pressure is on to adhere to the latest colour schemes, fashionable lights, discreet baubles and a fairy on the top, sporting more designer gear than Victoria Beckham.
It is a sad fact, that not all of us have an artistic bent and this leaves the field open for all manner of lumber lampoonery.
Across the pond there are probably agencies that provide some kind of Christmas tree trouble shooter, but here in unenlightened old Europe, we are left to our own devices, just scrabbling around trying to get an angle on the latest tree etiquette. My advice therefore is, to treat your Christmas tree in much the same way as you would treat any other area of your life; for example, you wouldnt order Salmon en croute and proceed to cover it in Daddies Sauce (unless you are from Bradford maybe) and by the same token, neither would you wear all the clothes in your wardrobe at the same time.
So why would you buy 150 kilometres of tinsel, several baubles as big as Zeppelins and a fairy the size of Hattie Jacques and expect to wrap it all around a two foot tree? The best advice therefore must be, that when it comes to trimming a Christmas tree, less is more, so why not just plonk the thing in a bucket and leave it naked, then if you do catch any of your friends gazing at it like seasonal Trinny and Susans, just assume a knowing look and declare this years look is austere dear!, but I thought everybody knew that!