… i was a little worried about writing this post as it opens up my inner-thinkings entirely to observation and possible critique but when the lovely people at Sainsbury’s asked me to reveal my top tips for dressing my christmas tree I began to realise what The Viking has been telling me for years… i’m not very good at being spontaneous… I am most definitely in the ‘organised fun‘ camp…
… you see I am very, very anal when it comes to decoration… everything has it’s place and order… yes, things must look entirely eclectic and as though every sparkly bauble has floated down from some glitter-encrusted christmas cloud but in fact they have been placed exactly on the tree during a strict, almost militarised campaign I call operation yuletide…
… it starts with a space being cleared between sofa and fireplace and a tree-stand placed on the floor… my tree-stand it a chunky beast that grips the tree with 3 metal screws and contains a reservoir for water so you can feed your tree throughout the month… this is followed by a trip to our local christmas tree farm where we spend approximately an hour arguing over height versus girth…it’s always a Nordman Fir… nice thick branches and needles that stay on for the whole month… an excited journey back from the farm with the netted tree in the back of the truck is then proceeded by the tree being brought into the house and another hour of placement procedure… at which point the tree is released from its net to many a gasp… we then give the tree an hour for it to ‘settle’… which essentially involves me getting completely over-excited as I go up into the loft to retrieve lights and decorations…
… are you still with me…?
… good… I shall continue with the lights… I like a nice simple white fairy light… not too many… enough for it to feel magically lit by the light of a hundred or so fairies… this is not the Blackpool Illuminations you know… I always place the lights on the tree from the bottom up, spiralling around the tree as I go… once illuminated I tuck the lights further into the tree for a more ‘natural’ look… and then it’s time for the baubles and little treasures… we’ve collected these over the past ten years, finding the right look… which is blue and silver with a hint of white… every year or two we retire the odd tatty looking bauble and replace it with something suitable adorable… this year we found a little silver and wooden fox, which reminds us of Holly, who loved chasing foxes and loved christmas… we’re really missing our little monkey…
christmas tree cookies
i’ve never made christmas tree cookies before but I saw this lovely recipe over on Sue’s incredible blog The View from the Great Island and I just had to give them a try… the recipe is very simple and i’ve made it even simpler… clearly my decorating skills have a lot to be desired but I was inspired by a neat little set of star-shaped cookie cutters and an empty Sunday afternoon… it’s a great dough recipe that you can easily re-roll and patch together, so you get no wastage.
180g golden caster sugar
50g ground almonds
350g plain flour
1 large egg
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
– in a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar till fluffy and then add the rest of the ingredients, stirring until it comes together to form a dough – pop this into cling-film and into the fridge for at least 30 mins
– roll out and cut into shapes – bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 15mins on 170C until just beginning to turn golden
– take them out of the oven and pierce a hole in the top of each one whilst they are still warm and slightly soft – they will harden quickly as the dry at which point you can decorate them as you like… I used some ready made icing tubes but a simple frosting made from icing sugar and egg whites will work well too.