WITH the festive season in sight, it’s time to focus on getting your house ready. If you’ve got children, it won’t be too long before they’ll be begging you to put the tree up.

If you’re having a real fir, then you may want to wait until few days before Christmas to bring it into the house, so it doesn’t drop all its needles and become completely bald by Boxing Day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t think in advance about other decorations.

If you’re decorating the outside of your home with lights this year, choose a dry and windless day to put them up, and make sure they are securely fastened.

Check the electrical connections carefully to make sure their weatherproofing is intact, as the last thing you want is for them to fuse when it rains and for you to have to try and make them safe in a downpour.

If you have a large tree in the front garden then think about hanging giant size baubles off the bare branches.

They can look wonderfully effective, especially if you spray some of them with metallic silver paint so they sparkle at night.

One of the simplest and most effective decorations to announce to the world that Christmas has arrived at your home is a door wreath.

You can buy lovely twisted holly wreaths, which will last the whole festive season, or you can make your own using a circle of willow or other flexible branches as a base and covering it with fir cones painted in festive colours and twined with scarlet ribbon.

Whether you choose a colour-co-ordinated or scattergun approach to decorating the house, it is important to remember safety.

If you have an open fire, don’t hang decorations above it.

Winding colourful tinsel round the banister spindles or along the top rail is an easy way to make the hall seem welcoming, but make sure the end of the strand is securely fastened.

Decide how you are going to display your Christmas cards: do you want to cover all the flat surfaces, which is a really quick and easy way and also cuts down on dusting at a time when you’re busy doing other things, or are you going to run strings along the walls?

Maybe your Christmas tree this year is smaller than before and you’ve got some leftover baubles?

Make them into a simple mobile using florist’s wire: these can be hung from light fittings, or even in the centre of a window, and look wonderfully effective.

They’re also a lovely way to bring a bit of Christmas decoration to the bedrooms, especially for children’s rooms or if you’ve got guests coming.

Of course the tree should be the centrepiece, whether you choose an artificial or a real fir.

If you do go for a ‘faux’ tree – some of them look amazingly realistic – one way to make sure you don’t miss out on that Christmas scent is to hang a Christmas tree perfumed air freshener on it, hidden away at the back on a lower branch. When you decorate, put the lights on first to check them and make sure the display is balanced all over the tree before you start adding fragile baubles.

Hang delicate or heirloom decorations nearer the top, as they are less likely to get damaged.