Deck the halls
Forget the tinsel and baubles this year and go for something subtle that still adds plenty of festive touches. The stylish Scandinavian’s pass on the plastic and fill their homes with winter foliage to make it look, feel and smell like Christmas is coming. Think layers of foliage such as rosemary, eucalyptus and pine arranged by laying it across a mantlepiece, wiring it on a stair bannister or spreading it throughout your house in wide-rimmed vases. If you are on a budget, just focus on decorating high impact areas such as the table, mantel or front door.
Sustainable and stylish
Let’s face it, the over-consumption at Christmas does little to help the environment. But there are plenty of options that are kinder to the planet and look great too. With all the cooking and prepping that you will be doing, it is now easier to keep food fresher for longer with beeswax wraps, a stylish alternative to clingfilm. If you want beautiful wrapped presents under your tree but hate the thought of all that wasted paper, look around for some clever (and cheap) alternatives. Old newspapers or plain recycled brown paper can look very festive and rustic with toppers including small branches, acorns and wintery flowers. Take a walk in nature and see what you can forage for a unique design that really brings the outside in.
Create the ambience
Music can really help set the scene. Just because it is Christmas, doesn’t mean you have to have the same songs on a loop. Mix up traditional Christmas songs with classic jazz and more contemporary numbers to keep guests feeling relaxed but not too sleepy. Make sure you have something on your playlist that will appeal to all your guests from the youngest toddler to granny and the mix will keep everyone guessing.
If you have a fireplace, now is the time to create that roaring fire. Keep other lighting dimmed and create a warm environment by using multiple lighting sources such as table and floor lamps, fairy lights and candles. White classic fairy lights on trees or draped around the house look great at Christmas and if you live with teens, you may find they nab them after the holidays to create a feature wall in their bedroom. Battery operated candles leading down a hallway can also look really effective and quite magical at night, especially good if you have children or pets and are worried about a real flame.
Food and drink
If you are going to over-indulge, make sure you do it with sumptuous food and drink. Cocktails feel very elegant and at Christmas think about using rich, warm flavours such as bourbon and cognac infused with cinnamon and clove. Serve in glass bottles or jars for an elegant twist. Alternatively, adding a few cherries to a glass of Prosecco is a simple way to transform a glass of bubbly into something very special. For anyone on a budget or those that want to avoid alcohol, create a hot chocolate bar with Christmas-themed cups and sweet toppings such as marshmallows, candy canes, whipped cream and sprinkles. For parties or the unexpected guest, try serving miniature-sized traditional snacks or add a fine dining element to everyday food such as a cone of chips with truffle oil. People also love dips and fondues and many recipes allow you to do the prep before your guests arrive.
Let the games commence
Fed-up of staring at the TV? Get in some board games to change it up a bit. Even more fun will be to get in a giant piñata and blindfolds to get the guests working for their sweet treats. Kids will especially love this and it’s great for getting some energy out of little ones who have been at home all day.
- Beg or borrow some extra stacking chairs or cube stools to keep everyone comfortable.
- Festive serving trays are very useful to bring out multitude cups of tea or nibbles.
- Keep your wine chilled in a super-sized wine bowl with ice.
- Cosy blankets are great if you have guests that like to stay up and chat when the heating has gone off and everyone else is in bed.
- Make your home smell of Christmas by simmering a saucepan of water and cloves.
- Fill spare vases with candy canes, chocolate coins and gingerbread for naughty but nice treats.