24 October 1997

Dressed rather than decorated

DECORATING the Christmas tree used to mean loading it up with as much tinsel and baubles as could be salvaged from the box under the stairs where they languished year on year between annual outings.

No more. Today, inspired by the one-colour themes of big store decorations and a plethora of interior design programmes on the telly, the Christmas tree is not so much decorated as dressed. And it has to be said they look better for it – I for one welcome the change.

I hate old tinsel. But throwing away the old tat and buying new can prove very expensive so a new book* from Search Press is a welcome source of tasteful and fun decorations to make.

The chapters are arranged by colour. The first titled Golden Hues begins with instructions for angelic baubles, balls with cherub faces wrapped in gold thread as fine as angels hair and adorned with tiny stars. These are based on polystyrene balls but other decorations are made from cardboard, clay, thin plywood, papier mache, felt, fabric and foam.

Some of the most unusual employ natural materials such as seeds, dried fruits and spices. Spice chains smell as good as they look and are striking for their simplicity. Cinnamon sticks incorporated into lengths of plaited raffia, aniseed stars glued to lengths of string entwined with gold wire, dried orange slices decorated with cloves and aniseed stars, smell Christmassy and look wonderful.

The only trouble is, having made these decorations you are unlikely to discard them after one year so that box under the stairs could be back in use after all. TG

*Christmas Tree Decorations by Petra Boniberger, Search Press (£6.95). Available by mail, post-free. Credit card orders (0800-146860).