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Picking the perfect Xmas tree

It's Christmaaaaaas! Bringing a fir into the house feels totally casual. NOT! Here's 6 top tips from the pros at Yattendon Estates so you'll be rocking around the Xmas tree, not in a corner.

When the tree goes up, it’s officially Crimbo – which means drinking in the afternoon is acceptable, copious amounts of snacks (nuts, Twiglets, Celebrations) at any time of the day is  mandatory – yes, even for breakfast – and the fridge containing more alcohol than food is inevitable. The kids will be fine, they have advent calendar chocolate with a side order of easy peel satsumas to avoid scurvy.

Love a real tree? Hell yes. I tried to go artificial once, but like an over-stuffed padded bra, it just ruined the illusion. So it’s the real deal or nothing. The annual hunt for a fabulous fir is something of a family tradition and we always go to Berkshire’s Yattendon Estates – one of the UK’s biggest suppliers of Xmas trees. They’ve supplied the best in the biz… Downton Abbey’s Christmas Special, Williams F1, Harrods, The Dorchester, to name drop a few  So I popped in to see Santa’s Forestry elves hard at work, and quiz tree master, Paul Mather, on what we need to do to pick the perfect tree and keep it looking green until January.


The two varieties available at Yattendon Estates are Norway Spruce – smells lush, good pyramid shape, but tend to drop needles. Or the Nordmann Fir – dark green foliage and soft leaves and popular because it holds its needles well. The tree elves have done a lot of the hard work for you. Trees are categorised according to height ( Small 100cm-150cm, Medium 150cm-180cm, Large 180cm-230cm and Extra Large 230cm-300cm). Need bigger? They have some whoppers too.

Tip one: measure you space. Whether you like your tree tall and slim like Kate Moss or with a bit more booty like Beyoncé, you need to measure your ceiling height and the width of the space it’s going in. You don’t want to start hacking away at your new Nordmann to shoehorn it into the house. Don’t forget the tree stand can add 10cm to the height.


We make our annual pilgrimage to the Christmas Tree Barn in Yattendon. The lure of a Top Nosh hog roast roll and Tutts Clump mulled cider is too good to avoid,. Plus the kids  love running around trying to find the one, while we jealously spy someone else who has managed to get there before us. it gets competitive. You can pick up a few new decorations, buy a few gifts at the Crimbo market and channel your inner Mariah Carey – in red skiwear singing All I Want For Christmas.


Of course the festive overload is not for everyone. Whether you’re nursing the hangover from hell following yet another fizz-fuelled party, can’t get out to rural West Berkshire, or simply want to stay at home stuffing your face with Celebrations while watching Elf (no judgement here) No problemo, you can choose your tree online. Hop onto the website, find your size and choose your tree. Each one has an individual number, it has been photographed from the front and back, so the one you like the look of, it the one you’ll get. It’ll then be packaged up and couriered out to you anywhere in the UK. All you need to do is decorate. Ta Da!


Always! But before you hit the bottle, cut 5cm off the bottom of tree and stick it in a bucket of water to have a drink. Once hydrated it’ll be feeling perfectly and ready to get its glad rags on for Crimbo. While you’re waiting, pour yourself a glass and and grab your decs from the loft. Choose a well-lit spot where the tree will stand out – not somewhere where sugar high kids and nutty pets are likely to trash it. Think about plug sockets and test your lights.


Avoid standing your tree near radiators and fireplaces – not only will it dry out but it can also become a fire hazard. Yes you want it to look hot, but frazzled is not the look you’re going for.

White and silver christmas decoration pop on the black background



I’m not sure there is really any RIGHT way of decorating your tree. Lights on first, then display larger decorations evenly on branches around the tree from bottom to top, then repeat with smaller ones, to create an even spread. It’s nice to invoice the tiddlers, but I tend to buy a small tree for them to throw their decs at while enjoying every moment of putting the main one together. It’s a whole new level of control freakery, but it works.

Yattendon Estates Christmas Trees are available from Christmas Tree Barn, Yattendon Rd, Yattendon Berkshire RG18  from Sat 24 Nov–Sat 23 Dec. The Christmas Market will be open on Sat 2–Sun 3 Dec and Sat 9–Sun 10 Dec. Or order from the online shop.


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