At home, Christmas trees: The easy way to Yuletide greens

By 25 December, five-and-a-quarter-million real Christmas trees will have changed hands for an average of around pounds l5 apiece. Five-and- a-quarter-million households will have struggled to stand the thing upright wedged in a bucket with house bricks or fiddled with those infuriating screws on stands which are alleged to be the final solution to leaning- `tree syndrome. Rosalind Russell looks at the alternatives to pine needles on the carpet.

According to the British Christmas Tree Growers' Association, more than 50 per cent of the trees will be Norway spruce, 35 per cent non-needle- drop Nordmann or Noble firs and the rest pine or blue spruce. Although most families in the UK put up a Christmas tree, only 20 per cent choose real ones.

But hardly any will achieve the twinkly elegance you see in magazines like Perfect Home, where the trees never seem to have light cable draped around like spaghetti, or are capped by an old fairy that has seen better days.

Alive to the angst of the house-proud but hopeless tree decorator, a number of companies have offered easy options. The Marks & Spencer Home Catalogue has two sizes of artificial trees already fitted with lights: the 4ft 6ins with 80 lights is pounds 65 and the 6ft6ins with 144 lights is pounds 100 (mail order only). The Argos 6ft pre-lit artificial tree, with 150 lights, costs pounds 49.99.

M&S will also deliver a real Nordmann fir, about 6ft high (without decorations or lights) for pounds 65 plus delivery, but including a water reservoir - a cut tree can drink up to a pint of water a day. Although that is about double the price of most garden centre Nordmann firs that size, at least you will not have an argument with your partner over the shape or have to drive home with it sticking through the sun-roof.

The mail order catalogue for the charity Barnardos sells two artificial- tree styles (frosty or traditional) which come with real pine cones attached to the branches and a pack of coordinating decorations. The 6ft tree with 72-piece pack costs pounds 54.98, plus P&P.

Really trendy home-owners would not be caught dead with a traditional tree, real or otherwise. One of the biggest sellers so far this year is a fibre-optic shimmer effect "tree", the tips of which change colour as they are stroked.

They do not generate heat, so are safe for children who find them fascinating. They sell for around pounds 49.99 in Selfridge's and other big stores. And John Lewis has progressed the minimalist bundle of twigs idea (promoted heavily by interior designers) by producing a gold twig tree and a silver apple- and-pear tree (pounds 39 each).

Heals has sold so many of its red chilli pepper tree lights (at pounds 26.50 a set) it has had to order another delivery. The display, draped around a handsome 5ft cowboy-and-Indian type cactus in the store in King's Road, London, provoked a rush among owners of loft and warehouse conversions, for whom a trad tree is about as chic as Pot Noodles.

But Katrien van Liefferinge might yet come out at the top of the alternative tree. Trained as a cabinet maker, van Liefferinge, who lives in Leeds, took an honours degree in three-dimensional design at Glasgow School of Art.

Her Christmas tree, the Luminosa series No 3, is an inflatable, made of PVC, punctuated with white or multi-coloured fairy lights, making them look like bizarre but jolly sorcerers' hats. The 1m size is pounds 75 and the 1.2m is pounds l20. Individually made (so sizes are approximate) the Luminosas are supplied with bulbs and fitted plug. They are part of van Liefferinge's inflatable light objects series, which she says was inspired by an interest in fairytales and comics.

It this is all too easy and you prefer your tree to provide a challenge, there is always the one offered in the Bits & Pieces mail-order catalogue. It is a three-dimensional, double-sided 2ft jigsaw of a Christmas tree. It costs pounds 12.95 and comes with 23 mini ornament puzzles which fit on the assembled tree. There are 750 pieces, so it you start now it might just be ready by Christmas Eve.

M&S Home Catalogue 0345 902 902; M&S real tree delivery 0345 704 704; Argos 0990 600161; Barnardos 0870 6039090; Selfridge's 0171 629 1234; John Lewis 0171 629 7711; Heals 0171 636 1666; Katrien van Liefferinge 0113 2570241; Bits & Pieces 01379 649 629.

For an Internet list of members of the British Christmas Tree Growers' Association to find one near you, www.bctga,

Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Rock to play DC character in superhero film
Arts and Entertainment
Damon Albarn is starting work on a new West End musical
artsStar's 'leftfield experimental opera' is turning mainstream
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Paul and his father
artsPaul Carter wants to play his own father in the film of his memoirs
Ben Stokes trudges off after his latest batting failure for England as Ishant Sharma celebrates one of his seven wickets
Arts and Entertainment
Members of the public are invited to submit their 'sexcapades' to Russell T Davies' new series Tofu
Sky's Colin Brazier rummages through an MH17 victim's belongings live on air
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
arts + ents'The Imitation Game' stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Training Programme Manager (Learning and Development)-London

£28000 - £32000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manage...

Training/Learning and Development Coordinator -London

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Training/Learning and Development Co...

Business Analyst (Systems/ Incident Analyst)

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Business Analyst r...

BA/PM - Client Data

£500 - £550 per day: Orgtel: BA/PM - Client Data London (Greater)

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor