INTERIORS

A GUIDE TO ALL THINGS CHRISTMAS

We'll help you do Christmas right.

December 11, 2018

Here it is, the master guide on everything you need to know to make your Christmas a success. From going shopping, to setting the table, adding a few festive décor ideas for your most stylish celebration, being the best host (or guest), and serving the perfect pudding, this sum of all Christmas knowledge will get you through… Because what is Christmas but a dinner party turned all the way UP…oh and, let’s remember to celebrate the true meaning of the day, too!

There’s a lot of things you can skip. Here’s how to set up a last-minute Christmas in the event you haven’t planned anything.

Christmas Melissa Penfold

It’s important to remind ourselves of the true meaning of Christmas. Image via @jomalonelondon.

SIMPLIFY

This year, make a change and simplify Christmas. Cut spending, stress levels and forget formality. Go for a relaxed atmosphere. Your guests will probably remember the beautiful table setting. They might remember the super delicious aperitivo of camparis and fresh orange juice. But the maze of different dishes you didn’t serve will go largely unnoticed. Allow yourself to skip over somethings. No one will notice except for you.  Pare your gift list. Do one big holly arrangement in the hall. You can go without a lot of ‘necessary’ items, save time, hassle and most importantly, money. And no one will bat an eyelid.

BE ORGANISED

Don’t let Christmas creep up on you. Try not to leave everything to a last-minute rush on Christmas Eve. Start early and write lists of what you need to do, to save you from going in blind and buying more than you need.

Melissa sets up a Christmas table using white, cream and green – avoiding Christmas cliche schemes that clashe with her usual interior scheme. Photo: Abbie Melle.

USE WHAT YOU HAVE

Too many people think they can solve Christmas decorating by buying something. When you let go of trying to buy more of what you don’t really need , it frees up oceans of energy to make a difference with what you have. You’d be far better of arranging armfuls of fir, spruce or holly from a friend’s garden: and piling it in big bowls and vases on entry tables. Or shopping your house, for gifts that your loved ones might treasure for a lifetime. Each year, my mother gives me a painting or piece of porcelain from her personal collection which brings me more joy than anything she could possibly buy in a shop.

CELEBRATE THE TRUE MEANING

It’s important to remember, amid all the push and pull of the Christmas rush, the rejoicing, rituals, and feasting, and the commercial volcano that erupts at the end of every year – to remind ourselves and our children this is a holiday of modest spirit and humble aspirations. Goodwill to all, peace on earth.

What we want is to love and know we are loved and to imagine a world – that lives up to the purity of that feeling. Plus, the feeling of a marking of another year.

Melissa uses triple-tier stands, bowls and baskets to arrange fresh produce from the garden – everything from pinecones to fir, crab apples and peaches; with the focus on abundance. Photo: Abbie Melle.

MAKE YOUR HOME SMELL AMAZING

For the holidays. Check out how to make mood boosting room sprays for the holidays at Hello Glow to promote happiness, clarity and calm any stress around the house this Christmas. Spritz, spritz!

AVOID CHRISTMAS CLICHÉ SCHEMES THAT CLASH 

Beware of anything that jars with your usual interior décor, and don’t use green and gold, or blue and silver: they’re shopping centre cliches. Silver and gold metallics, or taupe and green is more chic. Or try gold and a soft pink. Set up just two or three vignettes around meaningful pieces. Don’t go overboard.

DON’T TRY TOO HARD 

Simplicity and informality are much more stylish. Sometimes it’s more sophisticated to have less.  Just make it look good. Presentation is everything. Use a low centrepiece. Place a bowl of big silver baubles in the middle of your table with a simple bonbon at each setting or an urn filled with holly leaves or huge, perfect apples.

Avoid anything artificial. Lovely, generous napkins send a powerful message. So, unfortunately, do stains, fraying edges, and musty smells.

Melissa keeps it simple and informal at her country house and uses what she has: generous piles of apples peaches, fir and pinecones from the garden. Photo: Abbie Melle.

COMMON AREAS

To make sure you get the most bang for your holiday buck, focus your decorative efforts in the common rooms that get the most traffic.

LOOK FOR DEALS

There’s a lot of pre-Christmas sales worth investigating, and you can take the extra steps to find the best deals. There are specialised websites that offer sale tips, and apps which will alert you to deals in your geographic area.

DON’T USE OPPRESSIVE PERFUMES

Beware introducing overpowering scented candles which can be unappealing and trigger sneezing attacks. Pick ones that are made with either soy or beeswax and a high concentration of essential oils which give off a natural scent

EVERY ROOM FEELS BETTER WITH WARM LIGHT

For a romantic vibe this Christmas, instead of lighting up your house with too-blue bulbs, think warmth. Many people unknowingly buy LED lights without considering the temperature of the bulbs. White blue-hued LED lights not only create a cold feeling, they are often hard on the eyes.

Choose lights that cast a warm light by purchasing LEDs with a temperature of 3,000k or less.

Use nature to channel the season: we love greenery on dining tables mixed with candlelight. Image via UK Elle Decoration

CHRISTMAS PLAYLIST

There’s nothing quite like those uplifting, festive carols to transform your home – after all, music is one of the essentials of entertaining. We recommend

Spotify’s most popular playlist, Christmas Pop, featuring classics performed by some of our fave artists including Michael Buble, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, and Ariana Grande. 

LIMIT YOUR TIME IN THE KITCHEN

Pre-prepare as much food as possible. Make the main course, and buy the rest. Keep the menu as simple as possible. There is nothing wrong with cheating – as long as your shop bought food is stunning. The French have been doing it for decades. We always buy our puddings, which are better than anything we could possibly make.

Melissa adds a festive touch to tables by piling bowls with crab apples and peaches from the garden at her country house. Photo: Abbie Melle.

DON’T FORGET THE ENTRY

It sets the stage and vibe for the whole day. Go for a huge, festive arrangement of holly, or spruce.

NO, COLD HOUSES

Interiors are as much about ‘feel,’ as ‘looks’. Keep yours warm, and welcoming this Christmas. Look in cupboards, and layer up with lovely throw rugs. Bring out baskets, and fill with greenery to add instant comfort, so guests don’t want to leave.

SAME, SAME, SAME 

A big mistake people make is using the same Christmas and holiday decorations on rote repetition each year. After a while folk feel burned out because it becomes a chore. Try using the same decorations in new ways.

Use your Christmas tree in different settings.

Move your tree to the entry, or take two chairs out of the dining room and allow the tree to flank a fireplace. When we moved our tree to a different corner of our entry this year, it achieved a totally different look.

Adding a festive touch can be as simple as putting a branch of spruce in a vase. Image via UK Elle Decoration.

USE NATURE TO CHANNEL THE SEASON

Turns out adding a festive touch can be as simple as heading to your local market for simple berry branches or pomegranates in a bowl. Plus branches of spruce or fir mixed with buxus, pinecones and red apples.

KEEP THE CANAPES SIMPLE AND GENEROUS

The higher quality the ingredients, the less you have to do. Think proscuitto served with melon, figs or provolone: so stylish, so easy to serve and far better than sweating over something complicated.

SERVE CHRISTMAS DRINKS WITH A VISUAL PUNCH

Nothing makes people more relaxed than a generous glass of something when they arrive. Hit your guests with a grand gesture in a glass. Try jugs of Campari, generous slugs of gin-and-tonic or, of course, good champagne or prosecco. Limit the choice.

Serve drinks in big, well-proportioned glasses and make sure they are full. Nothing looks meaner than handing someone a half-empty vessel.

THE BAR

The second most congregated area of a home during a party? The bar cart, of course. Nothing makes people more relaxed than a generous glass of something when they arrive on Christmas day. Stock up your bar trolley or drinks table (even a table pushed against the wall) and line it up with row upon row of tonic water bottles, tomato juice, and several back-up bottles of spirits. It gives a generous welcoming atmosphere, and when family arrive you are ready for them. Drinks tables and bar carts are a showpiece that add instant holiday glamour to any space, big or small. They’re extremely functional for entertaining guests and look festive.

THE DINING TABLE

Similar to a wall garland, we love fir, spruce or any greenery used on the dining table instead of bouquets; mixed with candle votives for a no-fuss centrepiece.

Image via Elle Decoration

CANDLELIGHT

Candlelight is taking centre stage on the dining table this year, with vignettes of candlesticks and hurricanes grouped en masse in varying heights. Mixed with greenery, it’s a great look, that you can use all year-round.

BRING THAT FESTIVE CHEER INTO THE KITCHEN

Pile up the kitchen table or benchtop with an abundance of something natural, however humble. Put lots of red apples in a beautiful bowl, a a frilly lettuce in an urn, and an inexpensive bunch of kale or spinach in a vase, for a look that is festive and chic.

YOUR CRACKERS SAY A LOT ABOUT YOU

Cheap crackers, cheap affair. They speak of your values, and whether you know and appreciate good things. Upgrade your cracker-game and don’t disappoint your guests.

IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR UNUSUAL GIFTS

It might be helpful to peruse our guide: 10 Christmas Gifts You Won’t Have Thought Of

IF YOU ARE HOSTING

This year’s Christmas, it might be helpful to review our guide on How to Better at Parties This Season

IF YOU ARE ON A BUDGET

This year, you might like to read – The Broke Person’s Guide to Getting Christmas Ready

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL! X

 

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