My favourite of all the non-tree decorations is the humble paper chain.
The simple chain-link of paper rings, strung across the room is sufficient to bring the warmest of Christmas feelings to me. More so than hanging foil fold-out snowflakes, or randomly strewn tinsel, it is a well put together and season chain that rings my bells.
The longest paper chain ever made was a whopping 779m long by a Julie McKinney in Indiana, USA, but that was made in June 2014 so it doesn’t count for me. With that discounted, the longest Christmas paper chain is the 2m long one from my living room light to the corner above the telly.
I would guess that the origin of my love of the paper chain stems from childhood. My mum and I made loads of things out of paper when I was young. I remember making that fold out thing where you count numbers then unfold a flap which reveals something like ‘you smell of poo’. I also remember making a whole paper Pacman village on a table top, with characters, houses and cars all cut from A4. Good times.
In my house, it is the ladies (wife and daughters) who decorate the tree, doing a tremendous job, and it is my role to construct the paper chains. There is an art to the formation and the hanging of the chain. Let me explain.
If your chain has four different designs, then they must run 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4 etc. No mixing up here. They must rotate and face the same direction. If a paper chain had links running against each other then I don’t think I could relax in the room.
Also, then the chains are hung, the dip in each chain must be of a similar depth. For example, if you have four chains going from your light to the corners, then each chain must come down from the ceiling approximately the same amount. You can’t have one practically flat against the ceiling while another dips enough to catch tall people around the neck.
You also must make sure that the chains you buy are pre-gummed. This year, I bought a set because of their beautiful design only to be horrified to realise that none of the chains had anything sticky on them. The pack came with separate double sided stickies to hold them together. Far more time-consuming. I wasn’t impressed.
I believe the ephemeral nature of the paper chain also adds to its attractiveness. Like a butterfly, it has a short burst of beauty undone by its own fragility. You can’t repack paper chains for the next Christmas, so, out they go.
You will have your own favourite decoration. Mine is the paper chain. Merry Christmas.