Valued at £7bn annually, the Christmas Decoration market, is very serious business indeed. Every advert we see in the (ever earlier) run up to Christmas encourages us to become more and more extravagant in our preparations for the festive season.
However, decorating your home at Christmas needn’t be over complicated, fussy or expensive, if we draw inspiration from our ancestors.
Decorations in the festive season have always centred on the use of evergreens. Church records as far back as the Middle Ages even include entries for the purchase of holly and ivy. They did so because they symbolised eternal life and the promise of the spring to come – However, I suggest you do so because they can be absolutely beautiful and will transform your home into a calm, festive and welcoming Oasis – Calm, in my experience, being something which is often in low supply at Christmas!
You should always consider the home as a whole when decorating at Christmas. When you only decorate the main reception rooms, for example, it can feel like it is not Christmas in certain parts of the house! It should feel special the moment you arrive at the house and there should be a festive flow as you go from room to room.
Originally know as ‘welcome rings’, front door wreaths are a must in my book!
Anything goes when it comes them – whether it is wild and whimsical or formal and neat – it is the first impression before you enter your home. Consider your overall festive look and adorn the front door with a similar feel.
I personally like to make a day of it in the run up to Christmas, joining friends for a festive wreath making day at Dorset Flower Co.
Charles Darwin is perhaps not the obvious ‘go-to’ for decorating tips… However in 1877 he wrote about decorating the Christmas hearth at his home with holly. A trend setter if ever there was one!
I like to start with a layer of fir as the foundation for the mantel, building up with layers of ivy, holly and eucalyptus, placed in an ad hoc way but adding height and fullness to the mantel. Sprigs of Ivy can drape happily off the edges which provides a whimsical feel.
I also like to add antique candlesticks with modern tapered candles in pinks and golds which will glow through the greenery.
Christmas decorations that are slightly wild add an instant festive feeling but in a playful and relaxed way.
A white table cloth is always a good starting point. Like a mood board for a room you can pull together your table from colours you like and work them into different aspects of the table setting.
Consider layering the table with different textures - Tapered coloured candles in glass candlesticks can sit alongside pretty fabric crackers and velvet napkin ties. Warm coloured flowers add a coloured water glass will add a contrast to the crisp white tablecloth.
Consider Autumnal colours for your table which work well without being too full on and “Christmas themed”.
Most households love a cracker but the miniature pieces that get thrown into the ‘drawer of doom’ at the end of Christmas has never really appealed. Handmade crackers have always felt like the better option, but if time isn’t on your side, there are many lovely handmade reusable ones out there. A liberty print fabric cracker, for example, instantly adds colour and pattern to your table. Fill with a personal gift for your guest and then reuse for years to come.
Decorating the staircase is a great way to achieve the ‘festive flow’ I mentioned earlier. Not only do they literally connect the two floors, but they are often the first thing you see when you walk into the house - They also provide a not to be missed opportunity to decorate on a grand, two level scale.
For a relaxed classic look, hang loose garlands along your staircase and finish off with large amounts of velvet ribbon at the joins. For the garland go for around 1.5 times the length of your banister to allow for a loose swag and relaxed feel.
Together with the staircase, a console table is often one of the first things guests will see when they enter your home. Give it an instant Christmas update with a scattering of greenery and flickering candle light.
A garland made with fir, eucalyptus and ivy can be woven amongst your existing pieces - it will also smell amazing when you walk in the front door.
Make it extra long so that it hangs loosely over the edge of the console. Where possible put Hallway lights on dimmers to soften the lighting in the evening and consider decorative wall fixtures with candles for a warm welcoming glow.