The Christmas countdown in our house looks something like this. Two weeks before the 25th, when I can no longer ignore Yuletide, I binge-buy everything in one weekend. I join the hoards trying to find the last Harry Potter Enchanted Pogo Stick in the shops, whilst mentally condensing the 340 tonnes of festive food and wine we need into a list.
This joyful exercise is followed by a Christmas tree run to locate the last non-wilting spruce in the garden centre, and ends with a seismic sigh of relief as I flop happily onto the sofa, gluhwein in hand, to watch the kids go wild decorating the tree — their favourite bit.
Christmas prep is a precision-planned, pincer-like special op that has its own micro-calendar. As a mum-of-two, working full-time, with a diary full of nativity plays and deadlines, it is a countdown honed over the years and there is no room for error, or ‘extras’. So, the latest must-do trend to hit our shores is enough to give anyone Christmastide terrors. An already firm and growing US trend, the new Tree Trimming Party (TTP) is upon us.
The rules of the TTP are simple. On top of the billions of jobs already log-jamming your festive calendar you now have to play hostess to your own festive wonderland where friends and family come over, get entertained, and decorate the tree. You get to spend at least 24 hours down an Etsy rabbit hole sourcing the most original invites you can find — and we’re talking on-trend themes and colours here. Once designed, with date and time chosen, they’re sent out with an ‘RSVP’ request and the pressure is then on to host the event of the season.
This means a massive spread of festively-themed food, copious drinks, and music or entertainment. Every guest brings with them a tree decoration in the pre-planned colour palette (which was specified on the invite, by the way) and then they take it in turns to dress the tree with their ‘gift’. And don’t even start me on the swathes of sites dedicated to making party favours for the event. So is the Tree Trimming Party really what we need on top of everything else this Christmas?
A growing craze in America, Regina King (of Watchmen fame) recently eulogised about holding her own, and Jennifer Aniston reportedly hosts one for family and friends every single year. Unsurprisingly, influencers are catching up too. One look at Kate Hudson’s feed is enough to give anyone festive FOMO. Multiple posts show beautifully crafted invites and casually laid out festive charcuterie boards, as she wafts gracefully around inhaling mince pies and looking like she just whipped it all up an hour ago.
According to Ocean Finance, we already spend a whopping £567 per person on Christmas each year and that figure is rising. The thought of heaping more expense on to that already significant financial burden will make many people wince. And what about our own — until now — perfectly adequate quirky, family traditions? In our household, the children each get up to £5 to spend on a new bauble every year to mark that particular Christmas. And, getting them out of the tattered, old loft Christmas box and rehanging them every year is Christmas joy. That and letting them festoon once elegant branches with gurning llamas and tacky one-eyed sprouts (that we hastily rearrange when they’ve gone to bed). This messy, personal way of decorating the tree is simply a lore of Christmas, surely. It may not be show-stopping or 'gram-fabulous but it’s what makes family Christmases in my book.
This year, according to retailer John Lewis, the Christmas colours are ‘dusky pink as seen on the catwalks and layered shades of green to bring the outdoors in’. I’ll fully admit there is part of me that is very tempted to request that 20 friends and family come over with a strict palette of ‘blush and botanics’ to upgrade my rather haphazard, design-free tree. But in reality I dread to think what they would say when the invite dropped on the mat. Less ‘drop by for a Christmas cuppa,’ more ‘bring a Georg Jensen 18ct pinecone or don’t bother.’ It just doesn’t say festive.
I am no Christmas Grinch, far from it. I absolutely adore this time of year and the traditions and get-togethers it brings. The cards get sent, bulging stockings go up, the reindeer ‘food’ gets put out on the doorstep and the sustainable paper-garlands get made. But let’s face it, a Tree Trimming Party is never going to be just a couple of mates from work, some instant hot chocolate and Last Christmas on Spotify is it? It’s a hell of a lot of effort required before we've even got to the real event.
So, this year I shall be doing Christmas our way, as always, and resisting all temptation to Tree Trim like a pro. The alternative, frankly, is just a load of baubles.