Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas notes

By: Jessica Robinson

With Christmas right around the corner, lots of us are busy decorating our homes with Christmas trees and other holiday decor to create a festive feeling.  There are a few simple tips for making the most out of your holiday decorating. 

First, in our family we always get a real tree from a local grower.  AND, it's an absolute must that we head out together as a family to go and select a real tree and cut our own.  Check out the Connecticut Christmas tree growers association web site to find a tree farm in your area.  A few of my personal favorites are Dzen's in South Windsor, Karabin Farms in Southington, Steadman's on South East Road in New Hartford and Jone's Family Farm in Shelton.  Of course, I'm a little overly picky about what our tree looks like.  I want it to be full, lush and extremely fresh...plus trimmed just right.
The difference between going to cut your own and getting a "pre-cut" tree are undeniable.  When you get a pre-cut tree, they are generally harvested in October up north (Vermont or Canada) and shipped to your area garden centers, etc.  The problem is that they were harvested so long ago and many times just not fresh.  There is nothing quite like a fresh tree, you searched for and cut down yourselves.  Some of my personal favorites varieties are Balsam fir, White and Blue spruce and Frasier fir.  Look for a tree that has great green (or grayish blue color for blue spruce) color, not loosing pine needles and with a straight trunk.  (that will help tremendously when putting it up in the tree stand)  You'll want to cut it as close to the ground as you can, as to not leave too much of a stump behind.  Bring the tree home, make a fresh cut and put it in the tree stand.

Trees soak up a TON of water the first three to four days.  It's imperative that you keep watering the tree to keep it as fresh as possible.  Usually twice a day for the first three to four days.  If your tree stand dries up, the tree will form a seal and not be able to absorb anymore water.  The fresher you keep the tree, the nicer it will look and the less it will pose a fire hazard.

Now, when decorating I put the lights on, starting from the bottom and working my way up.  We prefer the old-fashioned style C7 lights.  They produce a little more heat and make my vintage spinner ornaments spin properly.  (find them on Ebay and be sure to check out Etsy for some great handmade ornaments and vintage finds as well!)  When you attach your lights, I find it gives you more depth if you weave the light strands in and out.  Meaning, you put a light on a branch inside the tree and work outwards, then repeat.  Same applies with the ornaments.  I hang heavier ornaments inside the tree, where the branches tend to be thicker and able to withstand more weight.

Pick up some loose greens at those same farms and fill your flower pots on your porch with fresh evergreens.  I usually put them on our mantle as well in a large oasis piece (ask your local florist if you can buy a casket saddle with oasis)  Sounds awful, but really works wonderful...  then I simply decorate with a ton of wonderful picked pine cones and add some lush red roses the week of Christmas. 

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