8 Tips for laid-back luxe Christmas decorating

11/19/2015 12:36:00 am HELEN STILES 1 Comments

I know, I know, Christmas is still ages away. Well, 6 weeks anyway. Actually, it's closer to 5 weeks now. Which is basically just a long month...suddenly I don't feel that bad about the timeliness of this blog post!

So, Christmas decorating. Most of us enjoy embracing the festive spirit and making our homes cosy and welcoming for friends and visitors, but without a plan of action it's all too easy to end up with a bit of a mess. In my experience, there are 3 common approaches to Christmas decorating. Do you fall into one of the following categories?

a. The 'anything goes' decorator. You drag out every item from the Christmas decorations box and stick it up regardless – balding tinsel; battered baubles, hilarious plastic singing Santa bought by Aunty Dot; handmade decorations the kids (or maybe you) made years ago... It all looks a bit gaudy, but hey, that's what Christmas is all about. Job done!

b. Colour-theme-queen. You like to ring the changes and choose a whole new colour scheme every year. Every bauble on your Christmas tree is colour-coordinated; the presents are wrapped to match and no one is allowed to be photographed near the tree unless wearing a co-ordinating outfit. You spend more on the decorations than the turkey, and after 5 years you have so many baubles, garlands and ornaments in various colours that you need another room to store them!

c. Eleventh-hour power decorator. You have great intentions, but don't act on them until the last minute. You buy your tree 2 days before Christmas and end up with something either 3 feet too tall for the room, or so small it barely fills a corner (that's all that was left in the 9th garden centre you visited). You make up for it by panic-buying random additional decorations from the supermarket/newsagent/other spontaneous purchase location and end up with a very half-hearted affair.

I used to fall into the last category – although having small children has motivated me to think about decorating earlier than I used to, if only to extend the Christmas magic for their sake. And this year, with a new retail business underway, I've been forced to think about Christmas earlier still (not quite as early as I should have done, but still, pretty good going for me!)

I absolutely believe there is a 4th approach to festive decorating: one that is laid-back, natural and doesn't involve spending a fortune on things that can only be displayed for 2 weeks a year. It's based on styling what you already have and buying things that will look great all year round. So here are my top tips for laid-back luxe Christmas style...

1. Add natural texture with soft furnishings. Natural hides, sheepskin rugs and fur all add a warm, wintry air. Add faux fur throws to sofas and chairs; put a cowhide rug in front of the fire and place woolly sheepskins next to guest beds. The textures are welcoming and invite you to relax and snuggle up.

2. Use plenty of foliage. Branches of holly, ivy and eucalyptus are seasonal, cheap and make a big impact. Place a huge vase of eucalyptus on your dining table as an eye-catching centre-piece. Drape branches over mantle-pieces, window-sills, picture frames or even a light fitting. Eucalyptus in particular looks just as good as it slowly dries, and gives off a festive scent.  Pick it up at the flower market, florist, or in your local park.

3. Stack logs. If you have a fire or woodturner, (or even a non-working fireplace) then fill baskets full of logs, or create small log-stacks around the room. Simple, useful AND festive.

4. Use antlers. Another natural touch that works well all year round. Deer naturally shed their antlers every year around October/November (and grow a brand new pair every spring). Theses shed-anglers are great for bringing a structural element to displays and look lovely styled with candles or foliage

Image: Carole Poirot, Hide & Seek Christmas Lookbook

5. Paper decorations. Rope the children in for an afternoon of paper-chain making. White paper chains look really effective against darker walls, or try brown parcel paper against paler backdrops. They're cheap and easy to make, and don't need to be stored - you can just put them on the fire on 12th night and make new ones next year!

6. Candles. Probably the most obvious tip, but candles create a lovely warm glow. Choose something scented with sandalwood, cedar or orange for a seasonal punch, or go for decorative styles (like our gold cross candle-sticks or charcoal-effect candles, seen above).

7. Metallic accents. A touch of gold works anywhere in my book, and balances out all of the organic elements beautifully. What's more, it's easy to use items that you already have - a brass candle-stick looks just as good in mid-summer as at Christmas. A lovely gold serving bowl looks festive on a Christmas table, but makes a great coin-holder all year round.

8. Edible accessories. Make your Christmas groceries double duty as decorations! We all tend to have things such as mixed nuts and cinnamon sticks at Christmas time. Use them to decorate tables and window-ledges, or place bowls of clementines or figs on coffee tables to add colour.

Follow these tips and you should end up with tasteful, laid-back Christmas style that doesn't break the bank.  Happy decorating!

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