In the past Christmas decorations were limited to streamers and fairy lights, but not any more as Robert Hall discovered when reviewing the huge range of novelty Christmas items that are brought to life by LEDs.
Flowering bulbs are popular Christmas presents. They can always be relied on to bring colour and scent into the house. Nathan James Dodd tells you how to care for them after the festive season has passed.
The sad fate of most bulbs is consignment to the bin, but with some care these plants can be kept for another show next Christmas.
Allow the plant to slowly dry out in the spring and prune back hard. Re-pot and place in a light location but out of direct sunlight where the temperature is about 16 - 17C.
Feed weekly, keep warm, and in November alternate between 12 hours of natural light and darkness. The bracts should then colour again but will probably never be as good as in the first year.
Hyacinth bulbs are also enormously popular. After flowering, leave the leaves intact until they die off but cut out the flower spikes. Move the pot or bowl to a sunny position and keep moist with a fortnightly tonic of seaweed based fertilizer.
When the leaves have withered either lift the bulbs or leave them in the container. Keep in a cool, dry, dark place for about eight weeks, then replant them and they will flower again in the spring.
For an Amaryllis the procedure is much the same, leave the bulbs in the pot but cut out the flowering stems quite near to the bulb, don't touch the foliage. Place the plant in a warm, light location perhaps a conservatory or greenhouse and keep feeding and watering
After the threat of frost has passed and the weather warms up, the bulbs may be placed outside in a sunny position. Keep moist and apply fertilizer every fortnight. In September bring indoors. You then cease watering and keep in a cool, dark, frost free place for between six to eight weeks.
Cut off any withered leaves and, about six weeks before you want it to bloom again, move into a lighter, warmer environment. Replace the top centimetre or so of soil with fresh, and water. Keep moist by watering from the bottom but don't over do it.
Daffodils can't be forced again, so after the foliage has died, keep in a dry place during the summer and then plant outside. In a couple of years they will bloom again.
All these bulbs, with just a litle effort, can be cared for during the summer months and then revived later in the year, a labour of love that will also save you money.
When purchasing a Christmas tree, you may or may not be aware that you're continuing a centuries old tradition that was enthusiastically adopted by the Victorians. An artificial tree as Andy Taylor explains is just a modern take on this age old practice.
There's a huge selection of Premier Christmas Lights, and it's no wonder why they are market leaders judging by the variety and innovation that's on offer. This is Andy Taylor's guide to their range of top quality lights and decorations.
Christmas wreaths, swags and garlands might be thought a little old fashioned, but Robert Hall thinks that modern versions of these traditional decorations are a fabulous way to combine tradition with colourful contemporary themes.
This guide by Andy Taylor is all about battery powered lights, a very safe way to decorate your home with festive colour. With low running costs and bright LEDs, batteries may be the smart choice this Christmas.