Four trees…one as tall as the house
Nicola Pastor, 39, is a full-time mum and lives in Wigan with husband Marc, 47, an investor, and their children Ruby, 13, Emmie, 11, and Louie, three.
Our house has been shimmering with Christmas sparkle, inside and out, since the last week in November. Visitors frequently comment on how magical — and classy — the decorations are.
But I can’t claim any credit because hiring professionals to decorate our six-bedroom home is as much a festive tradition as leaving mince pies out for Santa.
Until five years ago I’d have been scrabbling around in the attic like most people.
A chance conversation with another mum in 2014 changed that. I was explaining we’d recently moved house and had got rid of all our Christmas decorations.
Nicola Pastor, 39, is a full-time mum and lives in Wigan with husband Marc, 47, an investor, and their children Ruby, 13, Emmie, 11, and Louie, three. She is pictured with a life-size Nutcracker
She revealed that she worked for a firm called The Christmas Decorators, so a few days later I booked an appointment.
The kitchen we’d inherited was bright pink (it’s long gone now!) so we embraced a tree with a cerise colour theme.
A second tree in the living room was decorated in black and white, and a third in the dining room was bedecked with gorgeous bronze and copper baubles.
Each year, we discuss colours and come up with a different theme.
This year, two ladies spent four hours trimming two 7ft artificial trees, one in bronze, gold and copper, the other in champagne, gold and silver.
My three-year-old son, Louie, pesters me constantly to take his picture next to the life-size Nutcracker in the dining room.
He and his sisters had a lot of fun decorating an artificial tree in the orangerie to ensure they didn’t miss out.
Outside we have a real fir tree that we planted when we moved in and is now the height of the house, which two men festooned with thousands of fairy lights, as well as attaching lights and garlands across the width of our home.
I know it sounds decadent and indulgent and that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
But we work hard and love hosting friends and family over Christmas, so I want the decorations to look gorgeous and put everyone in a festive mood.
My sanity’s worth £7k
Stephanie Dann, 49, owns a holiday rental business and lives between Northants and Spain with her husband, 58. They have six children and ten grand-children.
It may sound extravagant to hire a professional to decorate our home at Christmas, but it’s an investment that saves my time and sanity.
I used to do it myself, but with six bedrooms, five reception rooms and an indoor pool and leisure complex, it was a mammoth task that left me feeling fraught, not to mention covered in glitter.
Now my children are grown up they descend on us with their own families at Christmas, and increasingly I found it hellish trying to decorate multiple rooms to make it magical for them.
Stephanie Dann, 49, owns a holiday rental business and lives between Northants and Spain with her husband, 58
So I’m quite happy to hand over my money —around £7,000 this year — and leave it to event organiser Julia Charles, whom I first met at various events before hiring her for my husband’s 50th birthday.
Since then, she’s become my festive fairy godmother, sprinkling her magic over my home every December.
We have three artificial trees, an 11ft one in the family room, an 8ft in the dining room and a 9ft in the drawing room. They are built on site as they’re too big to fit through the doorways.
This year, Julia’s team have adorned the banisters on the staircase with a stunning 20-metre garland as well as smaller ones on each of the three fireplaces downstairs. It takes a day and a half for all the decorations to be installed.
Our grandchildren love coming for Christmas. And you can’t put a price on that.
Our lit house is visible for miles
Sarah Booker, 33, is a stay-at-home mum and lives in Cheshire with her partner John, also 33, an entrepreneur, and their children aged four and 19 months.
I’ve been leaving the decorating to professionals for four years. Last year we splashed out as it was our baby’s first Christmas and we had our family here to celebrate. The star of the show was a giant 5ft light-up teddy in the garden that cost £1,000.
Sarah Booker, 33, is a stay-at-home mum and lives in Cheshire with her partner John, also 33, an entrepreneur, and their children aged four and 19 months. She says there are so many lights on her cottage people can see them from miles away
I used to spend a fortune on new decorations every year because I like to change the colours and themes.
My husband thought this wasteful, so we decided to hire instead. It comes with the advantage that I don’t have to take everything down at the end — a job I hate.
We’ve pared things down this year, but there are still thousands of lights on the outside of our four-bed cottage.
There are so many that you can see them from a few miles away.
Indoors, we’ve got a 7ft artificial tree in the orangerie decorated with silver and white owls, polar bears and teddies for the children.
Another 7ft tree in the lounge is all copper and gold and festooned with big lanterns that cost £800.
As soon as we get home my youngest leads me to the trees, which is the proof it’s worth every penny.
Sparkle is back
Anne Doherty-Lyons, 43, owns two businesses and an app and lives in Liverpool with her businessman husband Mark, 46.
They have five children between them aged 26, 18, ten-year-old twins, and eight.
Our Grade II-listed Georgian manor house resembles the most gorgeous, glittering festive scene thanks to a team of professionals I hired at a cost of around £6,500.
Anne Doherty-Lyons, 43, owns two businesses and an app and lives in Liverpool with her businessman husband Mark, 46. They have five children between them aged 26, 18, ten-year-old twins, and eight. They hired a team of professionals
An extravagance? Undoubtedly, but worth every penny.
We’ve created a winter wonderland on the landing outside the children’s bedrooms, with a life-size, light-up Santa’s sleigh filled with presents, plus two 3ft snowmen and a 5ft elf.
We’ve got an 11ft faux tree in the main lounge that’s navy and copper to match the decor, and a 13-footer in the kitchen.
Outside are two topiary trees strewn with fairy lights, a garland framing the front door and a 5ft red bauble.
There’s another reason for my extravagance: four years ago I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer — I’m now in remission — and the following year my mum passed away. Those events dimmed my love for Christmas, but I’m hoping this is going to help me get my festive sparkle back.