If the marketers are right, this year we’re all going to have the biggest and best Christmas yet. Whether you’ve been planning this since Boxing Day 2020 or last year’s dinner à deux in front of The Two Ronnies Christmas special is something you fancy repeating, let’s make this festive season a pretty one
Lead image: Garden Trading Company
The Christmas wreath workshop, a source of much competition amongst PTA groups, book groups and those friends who have a flash of creativity over too much mulled wine, can be held responsible for a new-found love of foliage this festive period. Even the humble conifer tree can provide enough cuttings for a bountiful mantelpiece garland, transformed with metres of floristry wire.
My personal favourite is to place foliage-wrapped metal wreaths on windows, finished with a simple grosgrain or hessian ribbon. For a hint of the Mediterranean, add olive branches and eucalyptus which creates a softer, sage-green hoop – the perfect antidote to the abundance of traditional ‘more is more’ décor.
There are a fair few of us that think fairy lights are a cure-all addition to the home. Want to create a party/romantic/festive atmosphere? Just add fairy lights. Want to distract from an unpopular wall colour before guests arrive? Even the previous owners’ 90s sponge paint effect can look good with a string of twinkling fairy lights. Look out for battery-powered fairy lights that are a great addition to a stair or a mantle garland without complicated wires – or my personal favourite, a curtain of lights. Hang against a mass of glass – perhaps those bi-folds or garden doors that are likely to remain shut for the winter season – and watch the windows create a mirror effect, doubling your light bulbs.
We may be a little rusty after our hiatus, but entertaining this Christmas is like riding a bike – so dust off the Santa napkins and nutcrackers and get the party started. Two key elements of my Christmas table that make it stand out from the rest of the year are charger plates and place setting names. Try out your new-found calligraphy skills on holly leaves, baubles or gilded pears, a great craft project for that grey afternoon at home.
If you’re not taking the plunge with dinner for 12 but easing yourself in with festive drinks, little touches will make it a beautiful event, from freezing cranberries in ice cubes for flashes of red in your G&T to adopting the trend for overstuffed food platters, where the decoration is all about the food. And to ensure your guests are comfortable and likely to return? Don’t overlook a sensible ratio of side tables to guests or create makeshift ones from a combo of a pouffe and elegant drinks tray for a practical addition to proceedings.
The big one
Adding to your bauble collection every year is a great tradition to introduce and a great excuse to refresh décor. This year miniature baubles seem to be everywhere, perhaps a trend leftover from the tabletop trees that were so popular for the scaled-back Christmas we all experienced last year.
Don’t be scared to mix materials, from felt animals that will encourage little hands to repeatedly rearrange them to delicate twisted glass, designed to reflect the lights and add another layer of sparkle. Many of us have a fear of creating a jumbled, bauble mess of a tree if we use all our decorations collected over the years, but actually it’s the tree that is the source of the most memories, so I would encourage you to go forth and display with pride. A bauble crafted at school from a lump of clay and glitter, heavy enough to weigh the toughest branch down, to the gaudy holiday souvenir (festive palm tree anyone?) and the miniature snowman that your grandma skillfully knitted. Each with a unique story to tell and lovingly brought out year after year to prompt memories of Christmases past.
If you do one thing…
Paper decorations are having a resurgence (some even made from recycled cotton) and all with the massive advantage of storing flat, but once open creating stunning talking points – from Christmas trees grouped next to a hearth or large stars and snowflakes hung from beams. For a more contemporary feel, opt for fans in a rainbow of brights hung at different levels. They’re sure to create the optimistic party atmosphere that we’re all seeking this year.
For more information on Laura Dweck and her interior design work, go to ljkimpton.com