Why Wait ‘til Christmas
It can be heart-warming to start off the festive season by introducing a winter theme in late November. Consider this your Phase One. This allows you to introduce a few understated, decorative touches to change key rooms in your house without the introduction of Santa and his reindeer just yet. This works if friends start their Christmas visits early. You may not have the tree up yet, but your home is still starting to don its seasonal coat. It also helps to spread the decorating tasks out so there’s not as much to do in early-to-mid December.
I know that Phase
Decide how many rooms you want to dress up this way. You may find that keeping a winter theme (Phase One) is good for the hallway and dining area, but you reserve full on Christmas (Phase Two) for the main living areas. Perhaps Phase Two doesn’t happen at all and you keep it low key. This might be particularly apt if you plan to have an illuminated twig tree rather than a full on fir. You may also like to keep a couple of Christmas free zones if you feel the decorating frenzy is becoming too much. There are no Yule rules here, remember. It is always about what works for you.
Achieving the winter sparkle is straightforward enough. Winter-themed throws and cushions with Nordic designs, tartan pattern or colours of red, green, frosty blue and silver can adorn bedrooms and living rooms. Your colourful vases and room ornaments can be replaced with more seasonal items such as arrangements of clear glass or silver vases and candleholders; sparkly winter garlands; frosted berries; glass or silver bowls filled with silver baubles of mixed size and texture; fir cones and stocking holders for the mantelpiece. Try white Christmas lights for decorating shelves, banisters and fireplaces or display them in large glass containers or on a twig tree adorned with silver, glass and crystal decorations. Consider making white paper-chains or making snow patterns on glass using white bars of soap (find out how to achieve both in Ed’s Grotto).
This is where the seasonal twig tree we introduce on our Christmas Trees page really comes in to its own. We recommend using lighter baubles on wire ornament hooks. Decide on your theme and off you go. Hanging decorations to help you achieve the winter feel include: heart-shaped ornaments; decorations made of metal, wicker and wood; colours of grey, silver and white with possible touches of gold; decorations of a Scandinavian design. Place baubles according to size, starting with the largest first, and distribute evenly but not uniformly. Then move onto the next size of decoration, finishing with the smallest decorations to fill in gaps and balance things out.
A Light in the Dark
Candles are a winter essential. White and cream are classic colours, although coloured candles to match your décor will also warm any winter setting. Any room can be transformed by simple candlelight.
Candleholders: Group candleholders together using a variety of different textures, heights and shapes of holder. Think uneven numbers for arrangements on tables and worktops. Three or five in a group looks best. Balance is key if you are putting holders on a mantelpiece. The same number of holders at either end of the mantel is most effective. Again, silver, grey and white holders will more willingly lend themselves to a winter feel. Vintage-style holders, perhaps with a mirrored finish or antique appliqué, will work splendidly. The warm amber glow from candlelight will balance beautifully with the stark winter colours.
Hurricane Lamps: The fact they are enclosed means hurricane lamps are better for leaving in hallways, where draughts may blow wax onto surfaces or snuff out the light. The theory of never leaving a lit candle unattended is a sound one, but a pillar candle resting well below the rim of a hurricane lamp should happily burn away without constant attention. Just be certain not to have a tall pillar candle in a smaller lamp, so the wick protrudes from the top.
Lanterns: Safer even than hurricane lamps, lanterns have lids and that makes them perfect for indoors and out, hallways and windowsills. The White Company at thewhitecompany.com and Nordic House at nordichouse.co.uk have wide and coveted selections, perfect for rooms in transition from winter to Christmas. A large floor lantern looks magnificent in a hallway. Groups of three lanterns of different heights are perfect for hallway tables and consoles. And having lanterns lit on windowsills is one of the best ways to proclaim your house has a warmth awaiting any who enter.
Tea-light Holders: Stock up on tea-lights and fill holders galore to dot around the house. This is an inexpensive way of spreading the amber glow. Plus, tea-lights in holders that have higher sides than the flame are safer than leaving a taper candle burning in a candlestick. Tea-light holders can beautifully illuminate a dinner or buffet table. Clear and textured glass, silver and vintage holders work best for the winter room. Tea-lights are the tiny, treasured gems of the candle world.
The Christmas Kitchen
In the build up to Christmas – and indeed through the festive period itself – the kitchen tends to be at the heart of all activity, with every surface needed for preparation. If you’d like to add seasonal touches that won’t get in the way then you could hang flatter decorations from coloured ribbon or festive twine on or over your wall cupboards. For example, you could use snowflakes or stars. Either can be introduced in November to deliver that early kitchen sparkle. You can fix ribbon from the inside of the cupboard door and bring it over the top: attaching your chosen decoration from the length of ribbon hanging on the front of the door. If you would like chunkier garlands, perhaps those beautiful ones laced with white LED lights, the tops of dressers and curtain rails are ideal resting places.
Christmas mugs are always one of the first items out of the cupboard for most of the team at How to Christmas and we feel it’s more than acceptable to introduce such tokens of festive spirit into the house when you feel comfortable to do so. November? Knock yourself out. These small touches won’t overwhelm but will brighten up one of the hardest working areas of the home.