You know those irritating people who start yabbering on and on about Christmas in August? Well, I am one such year-round elf. I love Christmas. Love it, love it, love it. I still have my stockings up from last year – true story.
Is that because I adore Kris Kringle or because I’m terminally lazy? We’ll never know. Anyway, finally the world is catching up with my enthusiasm, as the stores have officially gone into full-blown merry mode. It’s time to get out and see what Cayman has to offer.
Where to shop
Depending on what you’re looking for, you’ll either want to head to the big home stores or the smaller boutiques.
Kirk Home Centre, A. L. Thompson’s, Cox Lumber and Uncle Bill’s are the big four that spring to mind when one thinks of home stores. Here you’ll find every size and color of Christmas tree on the market, including the pre-lit versions that can make life very easy for the lighting-challenged.
They also carry large decor items, boxes and boxes of lights, and every bauble and bangle you could possibly imagine.
You can find some similar stock at Cost-U-Less and Priced Right and to a minor level, at the supermarkets. My main piece of advice would be to replace all of the string lights you used the year before, unless they were expensive, high-quality ones.
Fairy lights, as they are sometimes called, are enough to turn anyone into a Grinch. They are very sensitive creatures, and therefore have a horrible habit of being uncooperative, particularly after two hours of unravelling and placement. Reduce the odds significantly by just replacing them each year – trust me.
Boutique stores, such as the Celebrations Christmas Store in Camana Bay, are also great places to visit, if for no other reason than to really get you into the spirit. The Celebrations store offers completely decorated trees to private homes and offices, just in case you do not have the time to get to it yourself.
Tip: Vigoro Nursery is getting out of the Christmas decoration business after many years of being a seasonal shopping staple. They will only be selling Christmas trees in the future. Their decision is your gain, as all Christmas items (apart from trees) in both their Walkers Road and Agricola Drive locations are on sale at 40 percent off until everything is gone. You’ll definitely want to get there soon for the best selection.
Real tree vs. faux tree
For years, my family always had a faux tree, but that was mainly because we had no choice in the matter. Nowadays, there are several vendors that bring in real trees every Christmas, so it really comes down to what you prefer.
I personally love having a real tree. The smell is divine and it really is not too difficult to maintain it with water (buy one of those long funnel things if you can – it makes filling that stand SO easy). I’ve never found shedding needles to be a big issue, the price is right, and it can be recycled at the end of the season rather than stored somewhere, taking up lots of space.
If you decide to go with a real tree, either book yours ahead of time, or get to places like Cost-U-Less when the trees first go on sale. That way, you’ll get your pick of height and shape. Everyone loves A Charlie Brown Christmas, but not everyone wants to have a tree that looks like his in their living room.
Of course, going the faux tree route is the other option. The advantage is that you can use it year after year, it will not drop needles and it does not require any maintenance.
Based on my own experience, I would highly recommend that you measure the space you have in your house to accommodate a tree. It’s amazing how your sense of dimensions can get skewed when you’re looking at Christmas trees. You think it’ll fit and then you’ll get it home and find yourself in a National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation situation.
When you have a real tree, you can cut down the trunk to fit if you have to. When you have a fake tree, it’s not really an option.
Start decorating early
If every year you plan to start your Christmas shopping early and every year you find yourself lining up on Christmas Eve spending far more money than you had originally intended, you are not alone. We all just get busy and put off less pressing priorities until the date is suddenly upon us.
Obviously you cannot start decorating in July or your neighbors will think you’re a loon, but it certainly does not hurt to begin planning your strategy in November, particularly if you like to go all out.
For starters, you should go through your storage and see what you have from the year before so you do not inadvertently spend money doubling up your stock.
If you’re big on lots of lights, make sure you’ve got plenty of extension cords and multi-plug bars before you start hanging, hooking and stringing everything around the house. It will really cut down on your time and give you more freedom with your design if you’ve got extension cords to spare.
Those multi-plug bars make it much easier to turn off everything each night if you do not have an automatic timer or similar set up; very important if you want to keep those big electric bills at bay.
Have all the right tools at hand. Just like every other task in life, from changing a car tire to hanging a painting, having the right tools can save you hours of work and significantly lessen the stream of expletives usually associated with the joys of decorating. All of the home stores will stock the hooks, tape, wire, hammers and staple guns you need to make the job (almost) effortless.
Try to do a bit each weekend rather than all at once. It will be kinder on your temper and your knees.
Let the insanity begin!