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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.

Safety first – how to have a very safe and merry Christmas

Posted by: Fiona Donald on

Christmas time comes but once a year and it’s the time of year we like to make our homes and offices sparkly and combat the great British weather!
But as you decorate, take care to keep your home or office safe from any potential hazards. Here are our top tips to make sure you have a safe festive season:

Christmas lights

  • Make sure Christmas lights carry a CE logo. All electrical goods sold in Britain and the EU must carry this quality assurance mark.
  • Do not use indoor lights outdoors.
  • Be sure to replace blown fuses with another of the same rating.
  • Replace blown bulbs. A blown bulb might cause a short circuit.
  • Don’t leave Christmas lights plugged in and switched on when leaving the house.
  • Don’t overload sockets.

Decorations

Most Christmas decorations are made of light, flammable papers or plastic. To minimize any risk, be sure to keep them away from sources of ignition such as heaters, open flames and lights. It will also help your tree to stay fresh by not being too close to a heat source.

Christmas trees

When selecting a Christmas tree, choose one that has been recently cut (as we do at The Christmas Forest!) with a trunk that still feels sticky to the touch. A tree that has been cut and left to stand for several weeks will have completely dried out. Its needles will be easily pulled or shaken from the branches and the tree itself will effectively be tinder and kindling should a fire break out.

If you decide to purchase an artificial Christmas tree (how could you?!), look for one that is marked as fire resistant or fire retardant. Most artificial trees are made of PVC or polyethylene and so will have a certain level of resistance to heat and flames.

Tree talk with founding father Kelty Caston

Posted by: Fiona Donald on

So it’s only seven weeks to go and things are hotting up here at Christmas Forest HQ. In a well-earned break, I put a few questions to The Big Cheese of Trees to share how it all began …

Let’s start at the beginning Kelty – what inspired The Christmas Forest?

I have always loved Christmas and we always had a real tree. Also I was thinking of leaving teaching and thought this might be possible – there was a rugby club entrance by my house with good roadside exposure and easy car access.

What did you want to offer that was so different?

Celebrating and supporting the outdoor experience of choosing your own tree – and having the best trees.

What was the response like in the early days?

Good – but it is a hard trade to build. I did a lot of pavement pounding, slept in the cabin a couple of nights and just about broke even in the first year.

What are the five different varieties of Christmas tree you sell?

Norway Spruce – traditional, aromatic but short lived in the home; Nordmann fir – luxuriant foliage, good shape, good needle retention; Fraser fir – narrow shape with balsam fragrance; Noble fir – darker blue foliage and bark, layered structure, aromatic; Value Nordmann – a cheaper nordmann, not so full or regular. We also have living trees.

Would you say the service and advice you offer isn’t replicated anywhere else?

We do take a lot of care with training the staff (training day was yesterday in torrential rain), finding the trees and making the sites a nice place for the customer to choose in. I know we are the only substantial suppliers of premium Noble and Fraser – they are very hard to grow and very few good ones are available.

How did the business lead to you supporting Tree Aid?

It seemed like the right thing to do. After getting over the shock of paying VAT, I wanted to do something more for others. I think that is part of the reason for having a business.

How important is it to the countries you help?

We have funded the planting and nurturing of 120,000 trees in the drylands of the Sahel, West Africa. This is some of the poorest populated land in the world, which is largely de-forested. Trees stabilise the soil, provide crops and firewood and give shade. They bring the country back to life.

You have sites all over London now. A sign of how Londoners have embraced the concept of The Christmas Forest?

We don’t offer anything beyond trees, stands, lights and Christmas greenery, and all these at high quality and low prices. We are tat free. I think people appreciate this when everywhere else you go is piled high with Christmas stuff.

Do you have big plans for the future?

It is hard work to build a trade and quality is important. I would like to keep my current sites and find a new one or two. I am working on bringing in more things for a festive feel; like live music, our wish tree, and mince pies. I would like to do something else as well, perhaps in the summer.

Christmas trees that change African lives for the better

Posted by: Fiona Donald on

As a family-run business, with our merry band of workers, we’ve delighted in bringing London all the all the fun of the Fir to London’s Christmas season for 17 years. Providing a place for Londoners to hand-pick a tree and share in the joy of Christmas is why we do what we do. But as well as bringing fresh forests to the Big Smoke, we get out of bed extra early in the morning knowing that we can make a difference for our friends at charity partner Tree Aid.

It will almost certainly be wet and windy when you buy your Christmas tree, so wrap up warm when you come to see us at one of our stores (or order online and we will deal with the cold for you, and deliver your Christmas tree to your door). Throughout the year our crops get enough water to mature into the fresh Christmas trees that will sparkle in your living room, but at all times Africa remains the driest continent in the world. Lack of water and trees affects nearly half a billion people.

This is where Tree Aid dedicates its stellar work, planting trees in some of the harshest landscapes in the world. The planting of more trees means fewer villages being swallowed up by the desert, more families being nourished, while providing sources of income and livelihood, which creates opportunities for children to go to school. So that’s why for every one tree you buy buy from us, we plant one in the drylands of sub-Saharan Africa.

‘Before, we did not know why trees were important. My children were often hungry and we had no way to make money when our crops did not grow,’ says Ama Yahya, from Mali. ‘Thanks to our trees our bellies are now better fed and I can sell fruit in the market. I can buy pens for my children so they can go to school. Tree Aid has helped us understand how we can stay in our village and build a future for our children.’

As so ably described by Ama Yahya, trees are bountiful, providing fruit, medicine and shelter to support communities living in some of the harshest places on the planet. It all starts with a single seed. Here’s to planting many more trees and spreading some of that Christmas joy as far as we can.

Not another Black Friday message

Posted by: Fiona Donald on

Hello,

Yesterday was that curious phenomenon Black Friday, as you will have known from the countless emails in your inbox …

This year, we’ve decided to invent a new day ‘Green Saturday’. We are marking it by doubling our donation to Tree Aid today and tomorrow. So for every Christmas tree bought from us ONLINE until Monday, we will plant two trees in the Sahel region of Africa throughTree Aid.

Thank you if you’ve already bought your tree – your donations help communities grow their way out of poverty thanks to the shelter, food, produce and wood for fuel and building that these trees provide. And you can proudly show off your Christmas tree as the most ethical and ‘greenest’ in London.

It is a cause close to our hearts and we and Tree Aid thank you for your continued donations to their work.

Best wishes,
Fiona and Christmas Forest team      
www.christmasforest.co.uk                                     Like Not another Black Friday message on Facebook

Christmas tree collection service – new for 2015!

Posted by: Fiona Donald on

Dear customer,

Another quick note to let you know that, by popular demand, we have a new Christmas tree collection service this year: we can collect your tree on 28 December or 4 and 5 January, 2016, for £15 from outside your home or office or £25 from inside with a vacuum of needles included. All you need do is remove the decorations.

If you haven’t bought your tree yet, you can buy this service at checkout. If you have, never fear, you can simply email me at Fiona@christmasforest.co.uk with your preferred date and I will contact you to take payment.

We still have plenty of beautiful Christmas trees for sale online, although stock of our rarer varieties (Fraser Firs and Noble Firs) is more limited, and we are doing a brisk trade with these!

Stores open this week across London (Richmond is open today) and are fully stocked with our stunning A-grade trees.

With best wishes,
Fiona and The Christmas Forest team
www.christmasforest.co.uk

Make your Christmas tree count: for every tree we sell, a twin is planted in the Sahel region of Africa. Thanks to you, 150,622 trees have been planted so far. Help us to plant 200,000 by 2017!

The Christmas Forest partnership is supporting communities living in some of the harshest places on the planet to turn their lives around using trees. We are delighted with their ongoing support.” John Moffett, CEO of Tree Aid

Christmas trees delivered!

Posted by: Fiona Donald on

Orders are now coming in thick and fast online for our beautiful, real Christmas trees. We’re already running low in some of the more unusual varieties online, so hurry and buy now to avoid disappointment. Remember we deliver to London addresses!

Online open for business!

Posted by: Fiona Donald on

We’ve been as busy as elves at Christmas Forest HQ this year preparing for the Christmas season. Our big news is that we have launched a new website (same address:christmasforest.co.uk), which has an improved and much quicker checkout system and a snazzy new look. We hope you like it and welcome feedback.

Same great trees at the same price
As ever, The Christmas Forest‘s Christmas trees are top quality and available online or in stores in a wide range of sizes and varieties. We also have an array of stands, wreaths and lights for sale. We have kept all our prices the same this year for trees and delivery.

And remember our special offer: when you buy two trees online you pay just one delivery charge! So join up with a neighbour or colleague and save some money!

Get extra organised and buy your tree ONLINE NOW before the Christmas rush begins. Or from 27 November, come and pick your own from one of our ten STORES, including two new openings this year in Lavender Hill and the Lee Valley.

Thank you
This year we will of course give continued support to our charity partners Tree Aid by planting a tree in the Sahel region of Africa for every Christmas tree bought by you. With your help, we’ve now planted an amazing 150,622 trees there, which are helping communities grow their way out of poverty, for which we say a big thank you!

We are now well on our way to planting our 200,000th tree – and we’d love you to join us in this endeavour. 

The Christmas Forest partnership is supporting communities living in some of the harshest places on the planet to turn their lives around using trees. We are delighted with their ongoing support.
John Moffett, CEO of Tree Aid

We look forward to seeing you soon!
The Christmas Forest team

A new initiative by TREE AID

Posted by: Jack Crewe on

From TREE AID
At midday on 20 November we launched a new guide on Building Resilience to Climate Change.

This is our first edition of a new series which will help to promote TREE AID’s work and share our experience, knowledge and the lessons we have learnt working with the poorest people in Africa as they use trees to lift themselves out of poverty and protect the environment.

This is a really exciting new direction for TREE AID as we start to really take ownership of the great work that has been done over the years and we would really appreciate any support you can give us in sharing it.

Please feel free to pass on the link to anyone you think might be interested!

Fresh and wild

Posted by: Jack Crewe on

Did you know that many Christmas trees – dare we say the majority – are cut in October. If you’ve bought Christmas trees from big retailers in particular, but not solely, you may have experienced the early wilting of your tree, until you’re left with a sorry-looking specimen by December 25th.

We are not saying that our Christmas trees never, ever die early, nor that our trees survive central heating if they aren’t watered daily and properly looked after, BUT, we have a serious advantage over most of the competition.

And it is this: our Christmas trees aren’t cut until mid-November at the earliest, and then in stages up until early December, which means they are fresh, fresh, fresh – and so, much more likely to last right through to 12th night.

We cut our Norway Spruces at the end of November because as needle-droppers, their freshness is paramount to their longevity. We honestly doubt you’ll find a fresher cut Christmas tree in London.

Enjoy!