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Recycle, Recyle, Recycle!

Posted by: Tom Kolbe-Booysen on

You’re nearly there! Christmas is nearly over and you’ve survived. Everyone’s full up from the delicious treats. Kids are busied away with their gifts and you’ve finally got your feet up. There’s just that one niggling thing that you can’t quite get off your mind. That would be the clean up. No one likes cleaning up after a party and Christmas can feel like a month long party with a month’s worth of clean up. Decorations can be saved and re-used for next year, but what about the tree? Why dispose of the tree when you can recycle it?

If you follow the below tips you can make sure you re-use your Christmas tree properly! Here are some of our favourite things to do with a Christmas tree, post Christmas!

For the garden

Christmas Trees make for an excellent bird feeder and haven! String your tree with a few orange slices, cranberries, or anything bird friendly and place it in a sheltered location. This way you not only re-use the tree but give a little back to nature. The same goes for ponds, sinking a tree into a pond can make a lovely space for all sorts of aquatic life! No space for this? The branches and pine needles make for great mulch!

For the crafty people!

If you have a fireplace, that you use, trim the branches from your tree and saw the trunk into several pieces. Tie these together and store them in a firm bundle in the cellar, or basement. Come next year this will make for a beautiful and aromatic yule fire! Perfect for for getting back into the spirit of things.

Also, if like us, you still can’t get enough of that ‘Christmas scent’, a fir tree’s foliage be used for stuffing a small fragrance pillow. Perfect for those who aren’t quite ready to bid the season farewell and great fun with the kids.

Disposal

So, you really can’t think of a use for your tree? Then why not see if you can source a friend or neighbour with a wood chipper? They’ll definitely appreciate it. Failing that there are many places that will accept tree donations, or will remove it in a way that works for you and the environment!

Christmas may be coming to an end but it doesn’t mean you’re off the hook in doing a last little bit of good! Recycling your tree properly is a final, little gift, that the world is always happy to receive.

Our Favourite Christmas Traditions

Posted by: Tom Kolbe-Booysen on

Christmas is built on traditions. Everything we do throughout the Christmas period has an origin in the long ago that we uphold, and, sometimes change. What are the main traditions and how are they changing? Every year more people are breaking from these traditions in favour of starting new ones, but there are many that are definitely here to stay! As always, we’re here to dive into a few of these and look at how they’ve shaped Christmas and where they’re going.

The Christmas Tree

Let’s start with the obvious, the Christmas tree! Christmas trees have been around forever, when it comes to Europe, but they didn’t make their way to the UK until the 1830’s, before finally being popularised by Prince Albert when he decorated Windsor palace in 1841. Since then Christmas trees haven’t changed all that much and the tradition has stuck fast. The main change since has been the introduction of artificial trees and here we met the great Christmas split! As close as a few years ago there was a case made that artificial trees were better for the environment than the real deal. However, more recently people have been beginning to understand that this is simply not the case! A real tree, by all accounts, is the greenest way to go. So, if you ask us, this tradition isn’t going anywhere.

Advent Calendars

The history of the advent calendar goes all the way back to the early 19th century. The first recording of the creation of a physical advent calendar was in 1851! Since then advent calendars have evolved. They originally showed illustrations, or would have the owner physically light a candle to count down each day. In the 1950’s these were commercialised and chocolate gifts took over. Advent calendars today are so far removed from their humble origins, but the tradition remains the same! We’ve now got beauty calendars from huge brands filled with all sorts of products. In fact, there’s just about an advent calendar for anything you can think of, if you’ve got the budget…

Christmas Dinner

The Metro recently published an article detailing the history of everything we tend to eat at Christmas (http://metro.co.uk/2015/12/20/the-history-of-everything-on-your-christmas-dinner-plate-5571829/). From the turkey, through the stuffing, to the bucks fizz, everything we consume at Christmas was built on previous traditions. The biggest change to this tradition has been the incorporation of dietary changes. With M&S showcasing more vegetarian options than meat options this year for Christmas, it’s now clear that Christmas eating has become more about the flavours associated with the period rather than foods themselves. So, if it makes you feel Christmassy, tuck in!

Decorate like a designer

Posted by: Tom Kolbe-Booysen on

Christmas doesn’t have to be tacky, decorate like a designer. That’s a fact. With the right inspiration and design you can turn your decoration from bleak to chic! It’s really quite simple. Sit back, put on some Bing Crosby, pour a tall glass of merlot and step into character, this year, you’re doing Christmas with style.

Injecting some style into your decorating can be as simple as doing a little less. Christmas Tree’s have a habit of becoming cluttered, as well as homes. budding decorators get far too carried away with all the cheer and before you know it your tree, and home, looks busier than santa’s grotto on Christmas eve. Here are our top tips to keep things in vogue this year.

Colour Scheme

Choose a colour scheme and stick to it. Take a long look at the room you’ve chosen for your tree and come to a decision about what colour pallet would best suit. Keep it simple with all green, red & gold, red & silver, pink & white or whatever combination fits. Once you’ve got this it needs to be gospel, don’t stray from scheme no matter how tempting! Stay true and you’re already closer to a sleeker looking Christmas.

The Theme

So you’ve got the colours, now it’s time to think about the theme. Are you going traditional? Classic decorations always associated with Christmas. Or are you going to shake things up? Here’s where a little planning comes in… The options are endless but you have to choose what works for you!

The Tree

Selecting the perfect tree will always help keep your Christmas in vogue. Fuller, natural trees are the go to. You want big, green and beautiful. Keep this in mind when you’re visiting one of our stores, we’re always here to help.

The Rest of the Room

Now, this is the part so many people forget. Decorating doesn’t stop at the tree. Oh no, that’s just the beginning. Your theme and colour scheme need to apply to the whole room. If your room works hand in hand with the tree any guests will definitely sit up and take notice. Try an indoor wreath as a centrepiece!

This year you’re going to be the envy of everyone. It takes a little planning but if you follow the simple steps above you’ll be well on your way to a designer Christmas look.

Shake things up in the kitchen this Christmas

Posted by: Tom Kolbe-Booysen on

Yes, Christmas is all about traditions! However, sometimes it’s best to make a change, especially when it comes to the food. That’s right! We’ve said it… You don’t have to go for the traditional Christmas dinner. Each year so many of us slave away in the kitchen for hours on end, producing mountains of food, half of which is wasted, and a majority of which we only eat because it’s ‘the done thing’. The way we see it, Christmas food isn’t just about the foods themselves it’s about the taste of Christmas! Turkey isn’t always ‘Christmas tasting’, it’s the time of year, all the flavours combined and memories that make Christmas food taste and feel like Christmas.

How do we shake this up? Simple. With a vast amount of chefs and supermarkets getting on board with festive menus varied Christmas style dishes are becoming so more accessible!

Go Veggie!

Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, why not branch out with a few more vegetarian recipes this year? Check out these beautiful meatless meals of merriment! http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/christmas-ideas/g4045/vegetarian-christmas-dinner/

It’s never too hard to prepare these and you can dazzle your guests with the flavour of Christmas while making sure you please everyone at the table! (With the youngest member of the Christmas Forrest family being veggie we can assure you we’ll be testing these out!)

Do more with beverages

Sure, there’s Bucks Fizz and mulled wine, the Christmas standards, but why not break out that cocktail set you got last year and haven’t touched since? Here’s 30, easy to make, cocktails from country living (http://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/g2768/christmas-cocktails/). They not only look beautiful, but we’re sure they taste it too. Imagine your guests faces when you present your wonderfully crafted Christmas Cocktails. You can also surprise the kids with special virgin cocktails, so even at the kids table they can be part of the merriment!

What we’re really trying to say is that traditional Christmas dinners are amazing, but they’re not the be all and end all and they’re certainly always what your guests are going to expect. Sometimes it’s a little more fun to be unpredictable and a little more delicious.

The Ultimate British Christmas

Posted by: Tom Kolbe-Booysen on

Each Christmas more and more of us are opting for a ‘stay-cation’ in the British Isles. Gone are the escapes to the sun and avoiding the hustle and bustle of the Christmas period. The British people have taken Christmas in their stride. The weather’s no longer dreary or grey, it’s festive and magical. All the things we normally complain about, and we do love to complain, become endearing and accepted as part of this wonderful time of year! We go out, against all better judgement, into the crowds, and the cold in search of everything we need for the perfect Christmas and that all starts with the tree!

“I think that the Christmas tree in the UK is our last surviving folk tradition. For us as a society, there is nothing else like it. The emotion around Christmas is enormous, it can be the most stressful time of year, but then that is because it is perhaps the most emotional one. The tree is a linchpin holding the whole ceremony, and in a way, the whole country together. As everyone sits around the tree opening presents, it becomes a kind of still point.”

Kelty Caston – Founder CF

Christmas Trees are definitely not the only thing that makes for a very British Christmas. With us firmly waving the Christmas flag we’re proud to say that you don’t have to go to many lengths to enjoy a truly British Christmas.

Why not take the family or loved ones ice-skating?

Most ice rinks are based in some of the most beautiful parts of the country, so you not only get to enjoy the wonder of ice skating but you can also make a day of it and breath in the city. We strongly recommend the rink next to the Natural History museum. It’s in the heart of London and the view of the city is astounding, with so much else to do right nearby.

British Recipes!

Some of the best of British chefs have some astounding Christmas recipes this year for you and the family to feast on! We can’t think of anything quite as quintessentially British or as Christmas as Jamie Oliver’s ‘Welcome to Christmas’ https://www.jamieoliver.com/christmas/. Go on, tuck in!

When we’re feeling proud to be British we love to give back. Sign up to Crisis at Christmas and you can volunteer across the across the nation to help those so much less fortunate. Christmas is the season of giving, and nothing feels quite as beautiful as giving that little bit back… Don’t just take our word for it, sign up today https://www.crisis.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer/crisis-at-christmas/.

Christmas is for the family

Posted by: Tom Kolbe-Booysen on

Christmas is drawing ever closer and with each day we’re sure the little ones are getting just as excited as we are (after all, it is our favourite day of the year). Yet, with all this excitement comes a lot of extra work and responsibility. The kids will be off school, and, as thrilled as they’ll be they’ll need a lot more of your time, and time is a luxury we don’t have in the run up to the big day.

So, we’re here with a few of our favourite family themed Christmas activities so that you can spend less time juggling what to do with the family and more time enjoying Christmas together.

Christmas Tree Shopping!

What better way for the whole family to enjoy a lovely day out and tick off the purchase of the all important tree. Tree shopping is never a dreary process, everyone’s there for the same reason and everyone is always filled with Christmas cheer! Did we mention that all our stalls are now open? Why not pop down with the family and really make a day of it, we can’t wait to have you.

Christmas Tree Decorating

This a go to for keeping the little ones busy and taking some of the preparations off your hands… What’s not to love. You can either leave this entirely in their hands, if you really need a break and don’t mind a possible tree disaster, or the whole family can get together with some Christmas music and snacks to boost festive productivity!

Top Tip: Spend an hour the night before, after the kids have gone to sleep, hiding a few special decorations throughout the house. In the morning let the kids know there’s a treasure hunt they’ll need to complete in order to finish the tree! It’s always a blast and keeps the kids very busy!

Cooking

Why not get the family together to bake a batch of festive shaped cookies! Making cookies can be incredibly simple with the right recipe (http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/310732/Jasmine-s-easy-choc-chip-biscuits). Make it a challenge for the family, “who can make the best tree shaped cookie?” It’s always messy and it’s always a great time. Worried about the the big clean up? Simple solution! “You can eat your cookies as soon as the kitchen is clean!”.

Put your feet up and relax, you’ve earned it.

Looking after your Christmas Tree

Posted by: Tom Kolbe-Booysen on

Christmas Trees, every year we’re buying them earlier and earlier! Most will say, it’s because it’s always better to be prepared, especially when it comes to Christmas. However, it isn’t at all that simple! Buying a Christmas tree, months prior to Christmas, comes with more responsibility. Especially  if you want to ensure it looks just as beautiful as the day it arrived on the big day itself!

Let’s start with their lifespan, Christmas trees are a natural product, so we can never give an exact figure, but we can give you a very good estimate! Prior to reaching your home they will have been growing outdoors for up to eight years and once in your home their lifespan will vary from two to four weeks depending on how you care for them. Funnily enough Christmas trees prefer the outdoors, so looking after them effectively in doors is paramount to having a beautiful tree! 

So, if you’re buying your Christmas tree early make sure you store it outdoors, in the shade, and in a water-holding stand. Another top tip for a longer life span for your tree is to cut the stump at the bottom. Do this in a similar fashion to how you would flowers before placing them in a vase. A small cut of about 2cm from the base of the tree should be perfect and nearly all saws will get the job done! Doing this opens up the pores of the tree and we can’t recommend it enough.

Next Stage

Getting the tree inside for when it’s time to decorate! The tree should always be mounted inside a water-holding stand, watching this video will show you the best way of doing this – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hcqVvMqGEY. Once you’ve got your tree inside you need to ensure it is kept away from any sources of heat… No radiators, open fires or anything similar should be near  your tree. It sounds quite obvious but there often cases of trees not lasting through the season as they have been placed far too close to a radiator!

Finally, it’s time to remove the netting from your tree. This is as simple as taking any serrated blade to the netting and “peeling it like a banana”, as shown in the video.  Next give the tree a spin, every tree has it’s best side! However, a tree’s best side is also determined by it’s owner so, give a twirl and make sure it’s looking its finest. Further maintenance is as simple as checking your trees water daily to make sure it’s not dehydrating!

We’ll be back with further Christmas tree tips soon, until then, keep up the good work!

Go Green this Christmas & Recycle

Posted by: Tom Kolbe-Booysen on

“Waste not want not!” my grandmother would always say as we dug into our third helping of Christmas dinner. We never did waste anything, Christmas dinner would be our sole source of food for the next few days. Stuffing Sandwiches, reheated potatoes, and turkey, a never ending mound of turkey. With so many people not as lucky as us it was always made very clear that we shouldn’t waste anything, especially at this time of year. Looking back, what we were doing was the bare minimum. We could have done so much more, here are a few ideas on how to make your Christmas that little bit greener!

The Catering 

Whether you are cooking for yourself, your family, or a whole party there are lots of things you can do to ensure you’re doing your part for the environment as well as your guests.

Food, for many people, is one of the best parts of Christmas so, it’s always shocking to see how much is wasted each year. A recent survey suggests that 6.7 million pounds of food is wasted, each year, in Britain alone… This only surges over Christmas. So, this year, buy a little less. If you’re not finishing your left overs each year don’t buy so much food! Shop with a list, and stick to it. It’s so easy to end up tripling what you really require because you can’t stop finding things that you just ‘might need’. The best part is, with the money you save from sticking to your list you could upgrade to some organic, local or free range ingredients!

Recycle, recycle and recycle. Left overs can make some of the best meals, old vegetables can be frozen and used to make stocks and fruits for smoothies. There are so many options. Finally if you are hosting a large dinner party, do not fall into the trap of purchasing paper plates for everyone! Yes, it saves time washing up but it’s terrible for the environment, bite the bullet and maybe have someone else do the dishes, since you did all the cooking anyway!

The Look 

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without everything looking, well, Christmassy! However, you do not need to go overboard, less can be more, it’s not only more economical but it’s also the greener way. So before you splurge on countless decorations, plan ahead. Will you re-use these next year? If the answers yes! Then go for it. Are they recyclable? Do I really need these? These are just a few more questions to ask yourself before purchasing decorations. Finally, when it comes to your tree, make sure it’s a sustainable tree. A tree that gives back can do so much for so many.

With a little bit of thought and a little bit of planning you can easily make your Christmas more sustainable. Each year you have to do the planning anyway, at least this way you can feel a little more positive about it.

Merry – Greener – Christmas.

Charitable Giving – The trees that keep on giving

Posted by: Sajel Patel on

Thanks to all our customers. Your Christmas tree has made a difference. There’s one phrase we all say over Christmas, without fail, and that is thank you. We’re thankful for our loved ones, our families and our gifts. It’s a season that truly inspires gratitude and goodwill. So we’d like to start this season by saying thank you, and it’s a big one… Thank you to each and every one of our wonderful customers who, by purchasing a Christmas tree, have donated to our work with TREE AID.

Mother and children choosing a Christmas tree

Every tree bought funds the planting of a tree for communities out in the African dry-lands. Thanks to you we also reached our target last year of planting 200,000 trees.

Here is how you have helped:

As one of the world’s poorest countries Mali suffers chronic food insecurity and malnutrition with over 5,000,000 rural people living below the national poverty line ($2 a day)

In rural Mali, the challenges of environmental degradation and poverty are inseparable. The once green landscape of the Segou region has suffered devastating deforestation due to over-harvesting for firewood, bushfires and clearing of trees for agriculture. This has led to rapid soil erosion, which combined with frequent drought, has made agricultural livelihoods more and more precarious. Many in the region, who are already among the poorest people on earth, now face famine as harvests fail.

This project we support works with over 5,000 villagers to introduce changes that will restore the environment and improve their livelihoods.

This year we have directly benefited 1,620 people including 328 women, bringing a total of 19,342 beneficiaries throughout the life of the project.

Mr Moulaye Cézé, lives in Ladjiwèrè village in Segou, with his wife and seven children. Before the project Mr Cézé earned money from the sale of rice and millet. When there was a bad harvest, he struggled to feed his family and pay for household expenses. Through the project Mr Cézé established 1.5 hectares of eucalyptus for his family. The plantation means that Mr Cézé can now sell timber, providing extra income to pay for his childrens’ schooling as well as providing material to build a new home. Mrs Cézé also now has a supply of firewood throughout the year. The project has taught him tree planting and maintenance techniques and he tells us that his family’s income is gradually increasing. In the words of Mr Cézé: “Before, people had no control in the protection of the environment. Now, with awareness, people plant a lot of trees.”

So, you’re not giving a tree, you’re giving so much more, and that’s what Christmas is all about, isn’t it? Don’t just take our word for it, this video outlines the amazing work TREE AID are doing, and even more information can be found on their website.

So, what’s next? We wouldn’t dream of stopping now, our goal is to do better each year! We’ll be running the same initiative, as always, and for every tree you purchase we’ll fund the planting of another. Thank you again, and this year, when you buy your tree, remember… If it’s with us it’s a tree that can make a difference.

Thank you.

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree!

Posted by: Fiona Donald on

Communities everywhere have their own treasured Christmas rituals that involve a tree, but why do we all get so excited about firs and spruces?

Using trees as centrepieces for festivals is nothing new; many aspects of our Christmas traditions originate from the pagans. During the Middle Ages, an evergreen known as ‘The Paradise Tree’ was decorated with apples as a symbol of the feast of Adam and Eve on 24th December. The Christians picked 25th December to outshine the pagan winter solstice, and Queen Victoria’s German husband Albert imported the custom of the Christmas tree from his homeland.

Nowadays we even have artificial trees around which to gather (not that any of us real Christmas tree purists at Christmas Forest HQ would dream of doing such a thing). Artificial Christmas trees were first produced by a toilet brush company and once you know this, it could be hard to get that association out of your mind, even if they have come a long and sparkly way since then.

 

Festive fir trees can come in varying shades of green, and, like all other purchases, if you can buy one grown responsibly and sold locally, all the better. At The Christmas Forest we buy our trees from Scotland, Ireland, Hampshire and Denmark (the Danes are the true kings of Christmas, they even have apprenticeships in growing trees and the majority of trees sold in Europe are grown in the land of Vikings).

As our TreeEO Kelty explains, “I think that the Christmas tree in the UK is our last surviving folk tradition. For us as a society, there is nothing else like it. The emotion around Christmas is enormous, it can be a difficult time of year for some, but then that is because it can be so moving and memorable. The tree is a lynchpin holding the whole ceremony, and in a way, the whole country together. As everyone sits around the Christmas tree opening presents, it becomes a kind of still point.”

And so the season is nearly upon us. It’s been 328 long days since we closed shop last year, and now it’s only three short days ’til our first store opens and we’re super excited. We are all really looking forward to seeing you whenever you come to the Forest. If you can’t make it in to see us then you can already pick and click on our website with delivery to your door starting from Thursday this week.

All opening times are on our website and for any tree related question, we’re here to help anytime on 01865 427067.