How to keep it real this Christmas

O'CHRISTMAS TREE: Follow ancient tradition this year and buy a real fir or Christmas tree and let you home be filled with the smell of pine. Photo: Shutterstock.

O'CHRISTMAS TREE: Follow ancient tradition this year and buy a real fir or Christmas tree and let you home be filled with the smell of pine. Photo: Shutterstock.

For many the tradition of decorating the Christmas tree is more fun that the day itself.

If you love the thought of Christmas and everything that creates a truly festive feel in the home, then perhaps this year is the year you opt to put up a real, living tree.

You'd be supporting a local small business, as many Christmas tree farms are small to medium businesses that employ local people, while artificial trees are sold in big chain stores and made in big factories in big countries far away.

And while we are avoiding as much plastic in our landfills as possible, then considering a real tree is a good option. Once disposed of, it can make excellent compost.

The excitement of choosing the tree is also a great family day out and always fun for the children.

The smell of pine needles wafting through the home is enough to invoke nostalgia in some, and create memories for others.

O'CHRISTMAS TREE: Follow ancient tradition this year and buy a real fir or Christmas tree and let you home be filled with the smell of pine. Photo: Shutterstock.

O'CHRISTMAS TREE: Follow ancient tradition this year and buy a real fir or Christmas tree and let you home be filled with the smell of pine. Photo: Shutterstock.

While a real tree may come with a few more requirements than an artificial one, you will be enjoying an authentic Christmas that reflects the earliest traditions of the Romans and earlier pagans who decorated fir trees during festival celebrations.

Decorating a Christmas tree every year became part of these holidays only as recently as Queen Victoria's reign, when her German consort, Prince Albert placed a huge tree in the palace to remind him of home.

If you plan to plant your tree after Christmas, you must buy one that has a root ball. Ask your supplier to source a tree that has a root ball and get them to wrap the ball in cloth to protect it for the three weeks of its life in your living room.

If you are planning to dispose of your tree on January 6 (the 12th day of Christmas), then you could buy a custom stand that will keep it upright and ensure water reaches in through the outer layers of the trunk, where it is most needed.

Remember also, that you will have to water your real tree regularly and if you have Christmas lights on your tree - water and electricity do not go hand in hand. Use battery operated LED or just go for the old-fashioned method of hanging colourful fruits and gingerbreads in the tree to eat on Christmas Day.