Let’s celebrate!

We ask Party Zone’s Bhavna Mulchandani for festive decorating tips


For families who are staying in Dubai for the season and are buying their Christmas decorations from scratch, what do you suggest?
Every family should have a great tree, with plenty of baubles, ornaments, lights and, of course, something to put at the top of the tree, too. Christmas crackers, a wreath and stockings are always a nice way to add a something extra. Traditionally, colour schemes have always been about red and green. But recently we’ve noticed new trends, such as blue and silver, purple, and copper. This year white seems really popular, champagne too, as the mix of silver and golds tends to match everyone’s usual colourscheme at home.

There’s plenty of choice when it comes to decorations in Dubai, but how can I make sure they’re safe for the little ones?
Always ensure that trees are fire-resistant – here artificial trees have an advantage over real ones. The same goes for choosing your decorations too – always choose ones that are labelled as flame resistant, and make sure that tinsel and general decorations are made from plastic or non-leaded metals. Also, it may seem obvious, but make sure you keep glass ornaments well out of little ones’ reach.

I’m trying to choose between a real tree and a fake one, but have childhood memories of artificial trees being pretty small and unrealistic – is that still true?
With artificial trees you have no needles to clean up, no forgetting to water it and you don’t have to dispose of the tree at the end of the season. You can simply pack it away in a box and re-use it for years, which makes it much more cost effective than real trees, and reduces waste in the long run. Artificial trees have known to be stiffer, so your glass ornaments hang on more easily, they’re also better for families who suffer from asthma and allergies (as long as you give them a good dusting down each year you unpack them from storage). You can get artificial trees in all sizes and colours these days to suit your preference. In our stores, they typically stock up to 15 feet, however they can go as high as your imagination and can be ordered especially.

When it comes to Christmas stockings, surely it’s the bigger, the better? What’s the biggest you sell?
We have a huge range of stockings starting from five inches and going up all the way to 20 inches! Kids love these as parents can stuff them up with all sorts of Christmas treats and presents!

Aside from traditional board games, what other Christmassy activities can you recommend once the presents are all opened?
We have a range of DIY paint sets which are very popular with the kids. The little ones can paint and decorate their own baubles and ornaments to add a personal touch to the Christmas tree.

Any suggestions of what to offer as favours at our upcoming Christmas bash?
Here in Dubai, Christmas crackers are a popular pick as they look festive and serve as a decoration piece as well as a party favour. Christmas mugs and stockings have been pretty popular with kids, too.
Party Zone has stores in Jumeirah (04 344 8464) and Mirdif (04 288 8567) www.partyzonellc.com.

Christmas stars

Let your little ones loose with paper pulp and glitter by making these sparkly Christmas tree decorations.

You will need:
Star-shaped cookie cutters
Three A4 sheets of coloured craft card (red or green)
Hot water

How to make:
Tear the craft card into small pieces, put it into a blender, add two cups of boiling water and let it sit for five minutes. Pre heat your over to 200 degrees and blend the paper pulp mixture. Once blended well, about 30 seconds, strain the pulp and set it aside. Then place a towel over a plate, and put a layer of kitchen paper on top of it. Using the star-shaped cookie cutter as a mold, on top of the kitchen roll, scoop the paper pulp into it, pressing it into the corners and squeezing out any excess water. Once it’s tightly packed, carefully press the pulp star onto a sheet of baking parchment on an oven tray, sprinkle it with glitter and bake it until the water has evaporated and the star is hard. Then, using a metal skewer, make a hole in one point and thread through the ribbon. You can make approximately three stars from the pulp, and they will last for years. For more ideas on making decorations with children, visit www.familyfun.go.com.

The real deal

Christmas is never quite Christmas without a tree. If you’re more ‘at one with nature’ than ‘plastic fantastic’, Dubai caters for the fresh tree market of all shapes and sizes. Try Dubai Garden Centre (04 340 0006) for trees starting from approximately Dhs600 for a six-foot tree. Not big enough? Larger Spinneys outlets (www.spinneys.com) have trees from five-feet all the way to nine-foot whoppers, starting at just Dhs265. ACE hardware stores across the UAE (800 ASK ACE/ 800 275 223) are taking orders now and expect to be inundated at the beginning of December. And don’t forget two Dubai staples of horticulture will have a range a trees to view: go to the Plant Souk on Al Ain Road, just past Dragon Mart or Al Hudaiba (Plant) Street in Satwa for your festive fix of fir.

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