Monday, 18 November 2013

Fir Trade!

I am soooo excited. You may have noticed Santa is busy getting ready for Christmas and is making lots of appearances at garden centres, shopping centres and even on trains! There is only five weeks to go so you better get your letters written and brush up on your good behaviour. One of my favourite things about Christmas is the tree, especially trying to climb it! There are lots of questions about whether a real or artificial tree is better for the environment, which variety of real tree to get, how to stop the needles falling off etc. So as usual, I'm at hand to answer all your questions as well as give you a little Christmas Tree decoration project to do...

Daddy and I with a real Christmas tree

Now whilst some may claim that an artificial tree is better for the environment as you re-use it every year, there is still a huge impact on the environment by making it in the first place. Most are made from PVC which, from an environmental perspective, is a pretty horrible material. When you are fed up with your artificial tree and you throw it out, it will likely linger in land-fill for CENTURIES - not a great legacy to leave behind! Also, there is the carbon footprint to consider as most of the trees are made in the Far East and have to be shipped over here. At Vialii, we believe that a real Christmas tree is much more environmentally friendly as long as you buy it local to where it was grown and that there is a re-planting commitment for all trees that are felled. Plus we think real trees look nicer and they smell lovely! 

The King of the Christmas Tree - the Nordmann Fir

You can buy a live tree (with roots) but you can only have it indoors for a very short time and you will need to keep it in a cool place as it will come out of its dormant phase (in other words wake up!) and may not survive when you plant it back outdoors in the cold. If you are putting a live tree back outside you will need to acclimatise it back into the cold. If you find a supplier of cut trees who will plant lots more trees for every one they sell we think that's the best compromise. 

If I'm not convincing enough, consider this...A study in 2009 (Ellipsos) concluded that a 7-foot cut tree's impact on climate is 60 percent less than a 7-foot artificial tree used for six years. 

The choice for scent - the Norway Spruce

OK, now that we have convinced you to get real, which variety should you opt for? Here are a few of the most common Christmas trees you will find for sale and some of their key features:

Nordmann Fir - the King of the Christmas Tree accounting for a huge 80% of UK sales. It has lovely deep green foliage on the top and blue underneath. It has lovely symmetry and shape and is less likely to drop its needles.

Norway Spruce - another popular choice and one which has a lovely smell. This one can be more likely to drop its needles so watch out and don't buy it too early. 

Family friendly - Fraser Fir

Fraser Fir - this one has a pyramid shape and soft needles which can be more family friendly. It has flat green needles and can be narrow making it a good choice to smaller spaces.

If you can find it, the Noble Fir is a great choice for needle loss, branch firmness, scent and the softness of the needles.

Top tips:
  • Measure your space where the tree will be going (including the height) so that you buy the right size of tree (allow for a stand and a star on top!)
  • Ask the retailer where the tree was grown and when it was cut.
  • Give your tree a good shake. If the needles fall off then choose another.
  • Lift the tree up. A freshly cut tree should feel heavy as it will have a high water content.
  • Don't buy a pre-packaged tree - you need to see it out so you can see the shape, make sure it has good symmetry, not too bare and will fit in your space. Most places will be happy to open up any that are already packed to let you see them and then re-wrap.
If you can find one, the Noble Fir is a great choice
  • A good quality, freshly cut tree can last up to 6 weeks if well looked after so don't worry that you can't put your tree up as early as the fakers!
  • Cut a centimetre or so off the trunk before bringing it in to the house to help it absorb water better.
  • Choose a cooler corner of your room and make sure you water your tree EVERY day to minimise needle loss.
  • Many charities sell Christmas trees so consider buying from one of these sources and spread some festive cheer.
  • Remember to recycle your real tree once Christmas is over. Most councils will collect your tree and will then chip them and re-use the material as a mulch. 
Now that I have helped you choose your Christmas tree, here is a fun project to make your own Christmas tree decoration...

Hand Print Santa Decoration

You will need:
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • White card
  • Pink paper, card or paint
  • Red paper, card or fabric
  • Googly eyes
  • Cotton wool
  • Some ribbon, wool or string
  • Glue 

To make:

1. Ask your grown up to help you draw round your hand on some white card then cut it out. This will be the beard.

Draw round your hand
on a piece of white card
2. Cut out an oval shaped face from the pink card (or use more of the white card and paint it pink or glue on some pink paper). 

Here I am gluing some pink
paper to my Santa's head
3. Cut a hat shape from the red card (or use white card and glue on your red fabric/paper). Glue some cotton wool along the bottom of the hat and a cotton wool pom pom to the top.

Make your santa hat. I added some red
tissue paper to mine and cotton wool.
4. Glue your cut-out hand (the beard) to the bottom of the face and glue the hat to the top of the face. Glue the googly eyes onto the face and attach the ribbon so that you can hang it on your tree. 

I love a googly eye!
5. Hang your beautiful hand-made decoration on your tree. Lovely for Christmas and a wonderful keep-sake.

Our Santa Hand Christmas tree decoration

I'd love to see pictures of your Christmas trees and your own hand made decorations so please email them to me.

Remember, don't be naughty...

Hugs & kisses,

Lulu xx 

Thank you to for the inspiration behind this decoration

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