`I like the smell of a real tree'

Some demand a traditional Christmas tree. Others enjoy a more modern approach. Dame Barbara Cartland likes a bit of pink on hers. Paul Smith has opted for brass elephants. How are you decorating your tree this year?

Dame Barbara Cartland, author

CHRISTMAS MEANS a happy family and religious occasion to me. This year I'll be spending it at home with family. I have a tree every year. I always have a real one because they're more meaningful. For me the Christmas tree is always the embodiment of what Christmas stands for, and it symbolises the giving and receiving of presents. I got this one from a local nursery for pounds 20, which seems reasonable to me. This year it's been decorated with the usual fairy lights as I like it to look traditional. I, of course, like a bit of pink on my tree, along with all the other bright colours. I do not like too much gold or silver, just the bright colours. I think it's effective because it's bright and cheerful.

Jane Packer, florist

CHRISTMAS IS AN excuse to cram in as much fun as possible for my children Rebby, eight and Lola, six. It's all about creating wonderful memories for them, and we'll be spending it at home in London. We have a real tree because I like the scent. I don't care if the needles drop - that's part of my memories of when I was a child. The children have little real trees in their rooms, but I've done something different downstairs this year. When you're entertaining and a florist people have higher expectations. I've mounted up 6ft of oasis foam into the shape of a Christmas tree and covered it with about 1,000 carnations. Carnations last and they're making a comeback. I've also stuck in some frankincense and myrrh joss sticks. It's smelling wonderfully. It's taken me about three hours, and probably cost about pounds 500.

Paul Smith, fashion designer

TO ME Christmas means a day off. I always spend it at home with Pauline, my girlfriend. We don't have a tree every year, but when we do it's always real and always big. The best bit about a Christmas tree is its smell. The one thing I loathe on a Christmas tree is cotton wool. I haven't got a tree this year, but I've got spruce branches all over my shops. I've decorated a branch in my studio with things sent to me by fans all over the world including a wooden kangaroo, a hand-made rabbit, a wire bicycle, a ball of red string, two Chinese figures pulling a rickshaw, and two brass elephants. It's very personal.

Michael Landy, installation artist

CHRISTMAS used to be quite painful because it was the day my grandfather died, and every year my dad would cry when we sat down to eat. Then my sister gave birth on Christmas day and my dad stopped crying. This year I'm spending it with my girlfriend, Gillian Wearing, in Birmingham. I don't usually have a tree, I don't really like them. But I've made one for my cat, Ratakins (from Battersea Dogs' Home) this year because she's psychologically damaged and I thought it would cheer her up. I've used a ladder because she likes to sit on the top of it. It's covered with green bin liners, with bits of wood sticking out for branches. I've stuck on pictures from a cat calendar, and hung lots of toys and food for her on the branches. She's my fairy because she sits at the top, along with the words "Happy Ratnus". The best bit about Christmas trees is seeing them abandoned in the streets after Christmas, or on their way to be shredded by the council.

Tracie Bennett, actress and celebrity interviewer

CHRISTMAS IS a time to re-evaluate the year and think about what you should have done and shouldn't. It means children, fun, food, friends and family. I'll be in Barbados interviewing Bob Monkhouse, that's why my tree's so small. My sister gave it to me as joke last year because I'm always on the move. I'm going to put it in my suitcase. The silver foil stars on it came with a bunch of flowers given to me by the producer of Celebrity Stars in Their Eyes. I'm looking for more stuff for it to make me laugh when I'm abroad. I normally have a real one because I like the smell and dressing them up. When we have a party at a friend's house we always put bras on the tree as a joke. I'm funny about putting an angel on the top because I never like the thought of that tree sticking up her arse.

Tim Southwell, editor, `Loaded' magazine

CHRISTMAS MEANS several weeks of anticipation, and then sneaking downstairs at 4am with my brother to have a good poke around the presents. But he's away this year so I'll have to find someone else to conspire with. I'll be in Sussex visiting my parents with my girlfriend, Sophie, and our baby Alfie. We have a tree every year - I start badgering Sophie on about 5 October, and we usually pick it up on 5 December. It's always a real one, none of this Perspex and balsa wood rubbish. Also my carpets are quite bare so the needles which fall off provide social shelter from would- be critics. With the decorations we've gone for cluttered minimalism. I would describe it as menacingly understated in an overtly opulent fashion. It has the enduring appeal of a great Monet. People have been stopping in the street and staring at it in disbelief, which is strange because we live in a mews. What I hate most on Christmas trees are Ian Beale dolls and anvils, but you just can't tell some people. The best thing about them is the fact that they look like enormous cities when you're drunk.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
film
News
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
tv
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor