Buying the festive tree can be a bit of a nightmare if you've left it to the last minute - so start thinking ahead and decide which type would suit your home.
One of the most beautiful is the Noble Fir, grown here in Ireland and available nationwide. Not only will you be supporting the local growers by choosing a home-grown tree but the scent and freshness of the tree will be outstanding. Noble Fir is a popular choice because of their ability to retain their needles for a decent length of time. So if you are like me, and love to get the Christmas tree up and decorated early in December, then this is the tree for you.
Colour is important, and again the Noble Fir ticks that particular box with those wonderful blue-green hues. For smaller spaces, with a view to growing the tree outdoors after Christmas, then have a look at a living Christmas tree. It takes roughly seven years for a Noble Fir to reach two metres in height, so it's a slow process but it's there for keeps.
Nordmann Fir is a popular choice and they are also grown here in Ireland. They have a triangular, bushy shape and the needles are dark green in colour, but what really sells this tree is the magical Christmas scent.
So how do you keep your newly-purchased tree looking beautiful all through the festive season?
- If you like to put your tree up early, choose a Noble Fir.
- Never locate a Christmas tree near a radiator or open fire.
- Before bringing your tree indoors, always cut about 2.5cm off the bottom to aid water absorption. The tree will take up a lot of water initially so make sure the bucket is full.
- You can buy a tree stand which has a reservoir for water. Just top up the water on a regular basis to keep the tree looking as fresh as possible.
- Steer well clear of any tree with brown needles - it won't last you through Christmas.
- This is an ideal opportunity to lower the temperature of the radiators down a few degrees; not only will it help your tree survive but it will also keep a few more euros in your pocket!
- Trees will lose a few needles over time but if you buy the right type of tree, and follow the advice above, you should have a gorgeous tree right through the holidays.
This is an impressive dish but it really does need to be cooked medium rare. It is simple to prepare and rather elegant when presented on a large serving platter. Ask your butcher to prepare a French-trimmed rack of lamb. This dish also works really well with the mint and coriander salsa.
The Christmas party. These three little words can cause great anxiety. While I'm sure many people relish the thought of having a night out with their colleagues, there are others who would rather an eve of celebrations with any human beings on earth, rather than the people they already have to endure day in, day out.