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J’adore/ J’abhor

Homemade Christmas decorations - part of the festive fun or a totally twee step too far? Two Muddy staffers duke it. What do YOU reckon?

J’ADORE, says Katrina Harper-Lewis, Muddy Herts & Beds editor

I’ve always had a bit of a crafty inclination and losing myself for hours in unadulterated creativity is a pure indulgence. Our Christmas tree is adorned with mismatched decorations, from paper pom poms and fabric baubles with candy-striped twine that I made yonks ago, to personalised pieces picked up at artisan fairs, traditional wooden figures (from our own childhoods) and cute felted creatures on skis, all topped off with a chunky crocheted Santa hat.

And it gets added to every year – in fact since having our daughter we’ve made hand-print baubles and ceramic wreaths at the local pottery café, and last year our Christmas cards were decorated with robin and reindeer finger prints. I’m bracing myself for the barrage of paper-plate Santas and potato print Christmas trees that’s about to come home from nursery but having those precious things on display just makes a house feel more homely in my opinion. One thing’s for sure, you can forget the glamour and glitz of department store windows with their fibre-optic trees, trend-led colour schemes (peacock and plum – urgh! So not Christmassy) and their symmetrically arranged baubles – pah!

Katrina’s tree

Having said that, I live in a 135-year old cottage which just begs to be ‘grotto-fied’ (to steal the term from my German neighbour, and the Germans sure know how to ‘do’ Christmas – you just have to look around the Bavarian markets popping up at this time of year). To be fair, if your home is a slick, minimal ode to modern living then filling it with primary coloured and less-than-perfect handmade decorations might look a bit naff – but, hey, if you can’t do kitsch at Christmas, when can you?



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J’ABHOR says Kerry Potter, Muddy associate editor

I risk offending all my friends and being kicked out of the Muddy circle of trust here because I know you lot are absolutely mad for a festive wreath-making workshop (it’s our most-read feature every Dec). However the notion of a homemade Christmas brings me out in hives. Sorry, everyone.

Exhibit A: Kirstie Allsopp. Need I say more? Oh, OK, it seems I’m contractually obliged to say more. Well, what about the woman-hours involved in painstakingly studding oranges with cloves and hanging them from the mantelpiece using hand-dyed vintage ribbons. Who has the time?  There’s enough pressure on us at Christmas as it is – if I get one more ParentMail asking me to donate a homemade cake to the school fete, buy raffle tickets or attend a carol-singing assembly with 24 hours’ notice, I will turn into Michael Douglas in Falling Down. And that’s just the kids’ commitments  – then there’s relentless work deadlines, delicate negotiations with family about holiday plans, food prep, present planning, buying and wrapping, card sending and… maybe even the odd festive sherry with friends. Which leaves me with precisely zero minutes to get crafty.

And the problem then is my children fill the vacuum with their homemade handiwork. Frankly, I don’t want the Angel Gabriel scribbled in biro on a paper plate atop my tree. I don’t want sludge-coloured baubles made out of putty and all hung on the same branch. I know Christmas is all about children but please can the tree-decorating be all about me? Is that too much to ask?

Look, I’m not a total Scrooge – I do actually love Christmas itself and I’ll be decking the halls with boughs of holly (well, I might put a few sprigs in a vase). And I will hang a door wreath because they now appear to be a legal requirement for all front doors in my town – but it’ll be a slightly battered one, panic-bought from Waitrose on 23 Dec. It doesn’t matter though as neither friends nor family will be talking to me, let alone visiting, once they’ve read this. Bah, humbug.



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