Rosi de Ruig’s Top Christmas Tree Tips

Lampshade designer and interiors guru Rosi de Ruig shares her top tips for creating the perfect Christmas tree year after year, including her little black book for decorations, Christmas wrapping, spiced nuts and more.

A Little Bird - Lucy Loveheart Lucy Loveheart Pride and Prejudice decoration for Chatsworth

Choosing the type of tree

The choosing of the right Christmas tree was taken exceptionally seriously when I was growing up. If I got my timings right and happened to be heading home in early December the very same weekend that my mother would be Christmas tree shopping I would always tag along and hope to pick up some top tips. There was a particular friend who worked there, Steve, THE man to facilitate getting the best tree available. He would always surreptitiously put aside a few ‘specials’ round the back of the nursery for my mother to choose from. I think it was as close she ever got to a dodgy deal. He got her a good tree, she bought….lots of Spring bulbs? Her remit was always consistent. It had to be tall, elegant in shape and a very good green.

Once you dig deep the options can be daunting. Should it be a Norwegian Spruce for it’s excellent shape and delicious scent, Balsam Fir for the slightly spicy aroma and excellent needle hold or Scotch Pine for it’s rich dark green needles? Space is also an important factor, small and bushy or tall and slender. Will it be on a table or holding its own ground in a hallway. Our tree at home was always a Spruce for a combination of these factors and held centre stage at the back of our drawing room.  It needed to be tall enough to nearly reach the ceiling but leaving just enough room for Granny’s star to be placed on top. Once delivered it sat in the garden to keep it as fresh as could be for as long as possible and when it was moved inside it always had ample water to drink and never close to a radiator.

Decorating the tree

My parent’s Christmas rules stipulated that decorating the tree could only commence on Christmas Eve. This normally coincided with when we all descended on the house accompanied by huge amounts of excitement and champagne. Almost immediately there would be a frantic couple of hours cutting and draping holly from the garden above pictures and mirrors, hanging mistletoe from the banisters and cardboard boxes of all different sizes would appear magically from my mother’s labyrinth of a cupboard reserved exclusively for such items. All the decorations (from the ones we made as children to more sophisticated glass items collected over time) were carefully unpacked from their boxes to the back drop of the carols being sung from Kings College Chapel. We had baubles, silver tinsel and lots and lots of white string lights. My mother was fastidious about storing and preserving things and Christmas decorations were no exception. When she died we came across a small box labelled ‘string too short for any use’.

Marrying a Dutchman changed things a little for me. Instead of smoked salmon we feasted on smoked eel, there was a present that could be opened on Christmas Eve. Gone were the strings of electric lights and instead they were replaced with beautiful real candles hung from the branches (with the obligatory bucket of water waiting nearby in case of mishap).

A shortage of my own supply of baubles and a limited budget meant for an improvised form of decoration for our first few family Christmases but which have stayed with us still today. For the children, I made Christmas stockings created from felt and off cuts of patterned fabric. Mixed sized bows from crepe paper; paper chains, garlands and stars from scraps of my marbled and decorative papers were draped around the tree. There were prancing reindeer I found in a craft market and cinnamon sticks and other spices bought from the Shepherds Bush market dangled using inexpensive but pretty ribbons.  A tree can look pretty and smell delicious too. My hand sewn angels, church bells and miniature stockings filled with lavender have lasted surprisingly well through the test of time.

A Little Bird - Hunt & Hope stocking

Every year I try and add to my collection, limiting myself to one decoration for each of my children and possibly for my dog Peggy too. For this year I have my eye on Lucy Loveheart’s Pride & Prejudice range available at the Chatsworth Shop and I day dream about my ideal design for a Hunt and Hope bespoke Christmas stocking.

Decorating Directory

Pretty Christmas paper for homemade decorations:

Rossi 1931 –

Home made Christmas Crackers

The Cracker Company –

Sewing classes

Sew Much Fun –

Spices and nuts

Nut Case and Damas Gate both found on the Uxbridge Road

Presents under the tree do need to look pretty too. Much as I love pattern on my lampshades I think nothing beats a present wrapped with good quality brown papers and lashing of beautiful ribbons.

Merry Christmas everyone and sending much love, Rosi X

Shop Rosi de Ruig’s beautiful handmade lampshades here. And follow her on instagram, @rosideruig

A Little Bird - Rosi de Ruig

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