Growing up, decorating the Christmas tree was about throwing as many things on as possible. Things made at school, mismatched baubles, balding tinsel...
Then as you get older, your tree decorating tastes grow more refined.
But no matter how nice your decorations are now, you've got to start off with the right Christmas tree. Height, width and big bushy branches are all things to look out for.
First things first – before you go tree shopping, whip out your tape measure and check the height of your ceiling.
Your tree should stand at least a foot shorter than the ceiling, and don't forget to measure the base. So, if you have a standard eight-to-nine foot ceiling, then aim to get a tree around seven-feet tall. This means you can put your star (or angel) on top without any problems.
Also, use your common sense. If you have a small living room, don't fill it with a humongous Christmas tree. Choose its location wisely; decide if you want to make it a centrepiece in your living room, or if you want to put it in the corner of your dining room because moving it after it's fully decorated will be a nightmare.
Fake vs. Real
There are pros and cons to fake and real Christmas trees.
Artificial trees can look cheap and obviously synthetic, but in the long run they're more cost-effective. They don't leave a scattering of needles on the floor every time someone (or one of your pets) brushes past, and can look very nice, but they do require storage space.
Real trees smell fresh and festive, and you can pick a unique tree perfect for your home. But they do shed and involve an annual cost.
Transporting real trees can also be difficult. Plus they can become a fire risk and need constant maintenance.
Time to choose
Picking out your tree is fairly straightforward. First, make sure it's freshly chopped with shiny, green needles. You don't want a brown or withered tree.
Give it a good shake, if a load of needles drop off, chances are the tree's seen better days.
Give it a sniff – if it smells good, then it's still fresh and hydrated.
If you get the tree cut down in a field, you don't have to worry so much about it being fresh. Just check the branches are evenly spaced and it has a nice overall shape.
Keeping your tree fresh
If you want to stop the needles from falling out for as long as possible, then you must keep your tree hydrated.
Get an inch cut off the base of your tree when you buy it. This makes it easier for your tree to absorb water - but make sure it's cut straight or you'll have the Leaning Tower of Treesa.
If you're not putting your tree up straight away, pop it into a bucket of warm water. When you do bring it into the house, use a stand that holds at least five litres of water.
Then keep it well watered throughout December. Your tree's a thirsty beast, so you might have to top up the stand every few hours. And don't be tempted to add anything into the mix; salt, sugar and anything else are all unnecessary – just plain old water does the job.
Get an inch cut off the base of your tree when you buy it - this makes it easier for your tree to absorb water
When the lights go out
Once your tree has seen you through the festive season, it's goodbye for 11 months. But don't just throw it away.Fake tree
If you have the storage space it's easier to keep your fake tree fully assembled. This saves having to put it up and pull it apart each year. We recommend covering it with a tree bag.
If you don't have the storage space, and you need to dismantle the tree, then soft storage boxes are much better than cardboard boxes. They offer a lot more protection from dust and bugs.Real tree
January is a sad time for real trees – they are often dropped off at the tip, even though it's so easy to recycle them.
Check with your local council to see if they can pick your tree up, or chop it into smaller manageable chunks and stick it in your recycling waste.
If you bought a ‘live' Christmas tree with the root ball still intact why not plant it in your back garden? Just check you have the space and watch it grow.