If, like me, you find yourself in the first week of December feeling a mixture of dread and excitement down to both a growing to do list and having just discovered that all of the Waitrose Christmas delivery slots were booked in October, then this survival guide to a stylish Christmas (when you don’t have time for Christmas, but you still love it) is for you!
Interestingly, my approach to decorations is the opposite to my usual fairly eclectic, bright and maximalist approach to interiors, for at this time of year I am drawn to simplicity. The key to luxurious décor in design is texture and laying. For interiors a room with juxtaposed textures adds interest and comfort in a way that just isn’t possible otherwise, but it needs to be balanced. The same goes for Christmas decorations – overdo it with the colours or the glitz and whole thing loses impact.
So here are my easy to follow rules to help you create a cohesive, festive and beautiful look for your home.
My advice is to choose a base colour (such as traditional green) and then add 2 other colours. With a clear pallet you will find it much easier to find and collect pieces/objects that work together and without overloading your house with colour.
I opt for green as my base colour to which I add silver and white – a nod to tradition with a modern twist.
There is the age-old debate about real verses fake and I think whichever you fancy is fine, but for me it’s got to be real. For us, fighting over the size of the tree each year and then manhandling it onto the roof rack and my husband being really grumpy about the whole process is just a family tradition that we can’t live without. There is also nothing like the pine fresh smell of a real Christmas tree in the morning when you come down to switch the lights.
I always have a wreath on the door and am blown away by the talented Alice Strangeways wreaths, image below, that can be purchased from Pollendrop.
I think if you’re going to buy a wreath you need to make a real feature of it. As with most things there is no point in doing it by halves, therefore make sure your wreath really fills the width of the door. If in doubt, go large and with the one you love and don’t worry about it fitting in with your colour scheme as it’s a stand-alone item that screams to be big and beautiful. I have a penchant for hydrangeas at the best of times, so a Christmas wreath with huge dried hydrangeas heads definitely fits the bill for me. Although I also love wreaths with dried fruit and cinnamon sticks, which also smell amazing and despite having a silver, white and green theme I am partial to a red velvet ribbon on my wreath. This beauty by Kate from Camperdown Lane caught my eye on Instagram as did Caroline’s from Dr’s Wife – definitely a worthwhile Christmas craft to turn your hand to!
I love my house to be filled with foliage and blooms all year round, and Christmas simply provides the reason to purchase more. A simple display of White Amaryllis is the perfect Christmas arrangement (and takes no arranging) or a lovely bouquet of white roses or gladioli also look amazing and are again very simple to style. Eucalyptus is cheap and looks beautiful in any room. The great thing about choosing white for the festive season is that you also don’t risk it clashing with your existing interiors.
If you have a fireplace then make the most of it like this beauty from Cheneys. Candles are the perfect solution, intertwined with fir cones and foliage to make a simple but beautiful focus for the room. If your mantle is big enough then lanterns are also perfect. It’s really nice to tie the room together, so place the odd bauble within the foliage or in a bowl or a vase on the mantlepiece/in front of the fire. Very simple yet effective.
I could write an entire blogpost on table settings alone! I personally would guard against going too Christmassy just for the sake of it and go for traditional and classic so you can re-use the settings throughout the festive period. Keep within your chosen colour palette and go for the less is more approach. Some beautiful foliage with baubles and candelabra can create the most stunning room. As can simple foliage with pillar candles.
Don’t focus on just your dining room as kitchen tables with a lovely centre piece (again in your chosen theme) bring the Christmas atmosphere into the heart of the family home. Equally, it’s wonderful to bring your coffee table into the room and a bowl filled with baubles or with some candles can add more depth to your overall decoration. Think White Company, simple and classic
With the Christmas table itself I always think less is more. There is always so much going on food wise, you’ll find you run out of space so add sparkle and interest with the pieces you are actually using.
For glassware we always use the cut crystal for special occasions, it catches the light, it adds texture and looks beautiful. It also feels heavy to hold and really adds to the occasion. We invested in classic tableware a few years back and this is great as it goes with everything and looks smart and simple but special. If you have a precious table that needs protecting, a white table cloth is definitely the answer and there are some beautiful ones with silver trims and detailing.
My go to crockery is Sophie Conran, whose Portmerion collection is timeless and fits with any scheme. But for an extra Christmas treat Vera Wang’s collection by Wedgewood is absolutely stunning. Napkins have to be cloth, preferably white and we again keep it simple with silver holders, but you can hand make gorgeous decorations out of stems of eucalyptus or a single rose if you’d prefer.
Crackers are always a contentious issue. Some feel they are a waste of money, some feel there are one of the crucial links to a successful Christmas meal. I have to admit I am a cracker fan and have tested almost all those in the market over the years. If time is on your side, I would highly recommend making your own and filling with gifts – never a disappointment on opening then. If not, you can get crackers with a cocktail and meal recipe from The Ivy [link], chocolate crackers from Hotel Chocolate, Jo Malone for those addicted to those heavenly scents and every stationary addict’s dream from Smythsons and hallmarked beauties from Aspreys if you fancy pushing the boat out.
From twinkly fairy lights to candles to lamps to the roaring fire, this time of year is all about beautiful lights and Pinterest has thousands of images. I think as a rule during the darkest time of the month you need to have the overhead lights off, side and floor lamps on and then as many candles and fairy lights (as well as the tree of course) as you can muster!
A firm favourite of mine over Christmas (and throughout the winter) are lanterns with pillar candles in them. Again, I tend to keep things simple and just go for white candles. I’m also a sucker for tall tapered candles in candle stick holders, especially for the dining table and with fairy lights I opt for white over yellow as they give a clearer and crisper light.
In closing and without meaning to sound corny I truly believe that the greatest gift to yourself and to those around you is to put down your phone/iPad/laptop and spend time cooking, laughing, singing, dancing around the house and creating memories that make all the effort worth it. After all, if we had all the time in the world to prepare and install the Christmas of our dreams, isn’t that what it would look like?
All images are either our own or from our Christmas Interiors Pinterest Board. Find lots more Interiors Inspiration over on our Pinterest Account.
My Christmas Fast Five…
Favourite Christmas movie?
Nativity, with the children although my guilty pleasure is Love Actually.
Favourite family tradition?
In our house we always used to have a set of Christmas kitchen linens, and they really marked the season for us! And we always get the children Christmas pyjamas at the end of school to celebrate the start of the holidays.
Favourite Christmas Market?
Edinburgh Christmas market in Prince’s Street Gardens is one of my favourites in the UK.
Where will you go to visit Father Christmas?
This year we’re off to see Father Christmas in France while skiing, but I suspect we will also pay him a visit more locally on the Gloucestershire Steam Railway, which the children love.
Favourite London Christmas shop
I love Fortnum & Masons, Liberty and South Molton Street for the beautiful decorations and festive atmosphere.
Another gorgeous Christmas treat are advent candles, my favourite is from Plum & Ashby. It’s the perfect gift and really marks the coming of Christmas.