Branch out early this Christmas: Which tree is best for you?

Think Christmas decorations are on display earlier each year? Well, in 2020 they certainly are. It’s not even December, but already they’re twinkling here and twinkling there.

As Joan Collins, pictured by her decorated tree, wrote on Instagram: ‘What else should one do during lockdown in November?’

Christmas in November: A John Lewis tree with 'post-Impressionism' baubles

Christmas in November: A John Lewis tree with 'post-Impressionism' baubles

Christmas in November: A John Lewis tree with ‘post-Impressionism’ baubles

Dame Joan’s far from the only one. Research by Dobbies Garden Centres found that almost a quarter (24 per cent) of us will be putting up our Christmas trees earlier than usual and John Lewis reports festive sales have increased by 62 per cent compared with last year, with tree sales doubling.

Choosing the tree is always a special moment, but things may be different with Covid. To help, John Lewis has launched an innovative tool – the Virtual Christmas Tree – on its app, so customers can view either a real or artificial tree in their own home, decorated or undecorated, moving it around to find the perfect spot before they buy.

‘It’s a lot of fun,’ says Cassandra Bergland, a John Lewis director.

The real deal 

Nothing beats the smell of the real thing. The beautiful 60ft Norwegian Spruce installed in Covent Garden earlier this month came from Woods Farm in Solihull, West Midlands, which has also provided a tree to the Queen (woodsfarm.co.uk).

‘We’ve seen an early demand,’ says Geoff Gilbert, owner of the family-run business, whose trees range from £20 to £55. 

‘Many people, who usually spend Christmas away, might be at home this year, so may want to invest in their own tree and decorations.’ 

A trip to a Christmas tree farm or garden centre is allowed under the restrictions. Or you can buy online from places such as Dobbies, which stocks several species and sizes costing £45 to £75. Its site also has a tree-care podcast (dobbies.com).

Fantastic fakes 

Artificial trees go in and out of fashion, but this year’s are the most realistic yet. John Lewis’s 4ft St Anton Potted Pre-lit Christmas Tree, will have you squinting to see if it is fake (£129, john lewis.com) while Selfridges’ Dunhill tree has a metal stand and can be wiped clean (£275, selfridges.com).

For a splurge, see The White Company’s 9ft natural-looking fir which is pre-lit (£595, thewhitecompany.com).

What your home really needs is… a filing cabinet 

The Mitchum Cabinet has been reduced from £1,089.99 to £899.99 (wayfair.co.uk)

The Mitchum Cabinet has been reduced from £1,089.99 to £899.99 (wayfair.co.uk)

The Mitchum Cabinet has been reduced from £1,089.99 to £899.99 (wayfair.co.uk)

There is a fine line between working from home and living at work — and you cross it when your kitchen table is piled high with office impedimenta.

This is why your home really needs a filing cabinet that blends in with your style. 

If your interior is neutral with a touch of rustic chic, Cotswold & Co has a three-drawer cabinet (£349, cotswoldco.com).

Ikea’s Idasen would suit those with edgier tastes (£150, ikea.com). Maisons du Monde’s eccentric cabinets are delightfully quirky (£464.50 to £648.50, maisonsdumonde.com).

Or try the Mitchum Cabinet which has been reduced from £1,089.99 to £899.99 (wayfair.co.uk).

The Teknik Clifton Place Credenza from The Range is inspired by mid-century design (£408.49, therange.co.uk). 

Credenza, Italian for cabinet, is derived from a custom where a nobleman’s food would be placed on a cupboard for a servant to taste, to check for poison.

Anne Ashworth  

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Kitsch delight

If you’re going for a fake, one school of thought says you should go all-out kitsch.

‘In more recent years, we have seen non-traditional trees surge in popularity as they add the wow factor,’ says Katy Higgins, senior seasonal buyer at Wilko, who points out that pre-lit trees also eliminate the hassle of untangling tree light wires.

Wilko has a glitzy 6ft pre-lit gold artificial tree (£20, wilko.com), while Melody Maison has a large grey and silver-tipped tree that will add a slightly more subtle pizzazz (£162.95, melodymaison.co.uk).

Rent a tree

Eco concerns are driving people to rent trees: take up at London Christmas Tree Rental is already high.

‘Seven million Christmas trees go into landfill each year, and when they rot, they emit greenhouse gases,’ says Catherine Loveless, the company’s co-founder. ‘This year, I think people are just wanting to try and do things differently where they can.’

Customers can order online, then select delivery or self-collection, and book for the tree to be returned in January (£48.95 for a 4ft, londonchristmastreerental.com).

Gloucestershire-based Rental Christmas Trees still has 4ft and 5ft trees (£48 for a 4ft tree; rentalchristmastree.com)

Grow at home

Fancy the eco option, but don’t want to give it back? Then a potted tree is for you. A potted Norway Spruce – the traditional tree option – is £49.99 for a 5ft-plus tree, (christmastreesdelivered.co.uk).

For those in a small space, online retailer Patch Plants has a Christmas range, including Bruce the blue spruce, a mini classic tree (from £30, patchplants.com).

‘He has an unmistakable scent, a smell that instantly means Christmas,’ says Charlotte Craven, of Patch. 

‘Plus, because he’s a rooted tree, he will live very happily outside, growing a bit bigger each year and providing you with a larger tree every Christmas.’

A tree for life.

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