Do's and Don'ts for Christmas decor

Judith Blacklock, of the The Judith Blacklock Flower School in Knightsbridge, gives her do's and don'ts for decorating your home this festive season
Do: Have a tree ...and fake it
You can make a stunning fake if space or sustainability mean real is not practical. Retrieve that artificial tree lurking in the loft or acquire one from your supermarket. Collect a few branches of conifer or pine and place at intervals on the fake tree's branches, pushing the stem ends to the trunk. You'll find it hard to tell the difference. You can also use Christmas tree off-cuts or conifer branches on your mantlepiece , window ledge or for a long lasting centrepiece. Cut branches into short pieces and insert in foam, add a few roses or Gerbera to complete

Do: Go natural...collect, use and spray... leaves, berries, seed heads and cones
The best way to spray is by placing your finds in a small box. Spray once, close and rattle the box, then open and spray again. Smooth textured plant material takes spray much more effectively that those with a rough texture such as teasels. When using gold spray I personally prefer Brilliant Gold rather than Antique which has a much duller finish.

Do: Find Baubles with a large 'neck' opening
Baubles are the perfect container for a few stems of flowers. Mass them together in a low glass bowl so that they support each other. Fill the baubles with water and add your flowers.

Do: Have Candles
Put them in the fridge or preferably freezer for a couple of hours and they will burn more slowly , similarly always cut the wick before you light them and they will last much longer

Do: Create a centrepiece for your table
Use Christmas colours of red, gold and green or for a contemporary feel choose hot strong colours like turquoise and lime with silver or pastels with silver or gold. Select one or other style – never mix.

Don't: Buy poinsettia plants from outside a shop.
They're very susceptible to draughts and won't last long after purchase.

Don't: Buy roses that are soft
When you squeeze the base if it is soft or if the petals are translucent – they won't last.

Don't: Forget to water your flowers.
Flowers dislike central heated rooms and you need to top up with water every day.

Don't: Forget to cut the stems of your flowers once you bring them home.
I always suggest removing the bottom 10% of the stem before placing in clean water.

Don't: Buy Azalea or Cyclamen
Only buy if you're very patient as they need a lot of care and attention. If you do, go for the small headed Cyclamen which last a lot longer than the larger ones.

And of course 
Don't forget to stock up for next year in the sales – many Christmas staples are less than half price.