I am quite possibly the most judgemental person in the world when it comes to Christmas decorations, and how people decorate their homes.
“Oh, the children decorated the tree”. Yes, I can see that. In fact I’d probably be able to see that from space considering the amount of reflective sparkle they have dumped on (one side) of it. In my house, the children get to help, but not in ways that matter to me. I know I sound like a Scrooge, but I cannot abide “home made” decorations, that look home made. A bit of salt dough here and there isn’t too bad, but I’ll be damned if I’m making paper chains with my boys and hanging it where the public can see. If you are like me, and lots of parents ARE, then this is the blog for you; tasteful ways to decorate your home without having battery operated Santas screeching with laughter whenever the doorbell rings. I’ll also be, grudgingly, offering ideas for how the children can get involved, so you can get them outside and productive. My personal taste reflects my sitting room decor; I go with red, gold and green. Lots of gingham, lots of white lights and absolutely NO tinsel. It may come as a surprise to you (!) but I also don’t have inflatable anything in my front garden, nor do I illuminate the country sky with unnecessary lighting. Let’s begin with the types of colour palettes that you’ll be seeing everywhere.
Silver and blue
Not the most traditional of colourings, but becoming ever popular now that it’s acceptable to throw tradition out of the window. This a cool palette, so be prepared to not get that lovely warm feeling of cosiness by using it; that said, it works very well in minimalist homes. If you are the type to have two trees, this is a fantastic colour scheme to use in your porch/hallway/entrance hall.
Multicoloured (pinks, golds, oranges, turquoise & NEONS!)
Yes, the above made quite the impression about two years ago and year after year people are still dragging these out. They can work ever so well on a Christmas table, again depending on the decor surrounding your dining area, if you have an open plan or eat in the sitting room, you may wish to take into account an overall theme that covers the table and the decor. The combination of pinks and blues are fun. They’re not traditional, they’re not something I’d like in my house, but I flip through the Christmas magazines and I think, “that’s a fun look”. I haven’t been to a home which exploits the colourings as of yet, but I’ve seen the decorations for sale so people MUST be buying them.
Red, gold and green
Tradition. Warm. Matches the green of the tree, and in fact the only three colours it won’t match is duck egg blue, pink and lilac. If you have the blue as your sitting room colour scheme then replace the red with a blue and you’ll be on your way. The beauty of the red is that you can use gingham, not just the ready made hearts or baubles, but the actual ribbon. Bows look ever so pretty tied onto branches (wait for the blog on home made tree decorations!).
Copper, brown and gold
Quite possibly the only other colour combination I’d consider using, this works well with sitting rooms that are black and grey and duck egg blue and cream. Super warm tones and look fantastic once against flames from the fire (electric, LCD or real ones!).
Which ever colour scheme you use, remember that white lights ALWAYS look best, and are usually cheaper.
The tree. Hmmm. I like a real tree. I like the smell, I like the fact that it’s huge and bushy and sticks out. I like that we go and choose one as a family then scrabble as my husband tries to tie it to the roof of the car while the children are restless strapped in their seats. I dislike hoovering every day, the children eating pine needles, Henry (our dog) getting them stuck in his paws, and most of all I hate that if the heating is on for more than 20 minutes a day it all withers and dies (and I’ve tried every method of keeping the bugger hydrated, you can have a look at some of the ways here). The only method I can find to make it work, is not to buy it early. I have made a PROMISE to myself to wait until after the 14th December before purchasing one (I’m usually the 1st weeked in December!). The 14th is my husband’s birthday, so I’ll wait until after that, then unleash Christmas upon my house.
A few ways to involve the children…not my strongest points, but they work for us. We have advent calendars which we fill ourselves (you can find some truly beautiful ones at John Lewis) so we can alternate between sweeties and small toys; we let the boys pick out the bits around October, so they’ve forgotten by the 1st December; however this year we have seen these which I think we’ll be buying to stuff inside them, and alternate so one packet will do both advent calendars mixed in with some toys. We like to have displays of pine cones in the house at Christmas, then we take the children out with their egg baskets (which they use to collect chicken eggs) and fill them with pine cones, which we bring back and spray with gold spray paint (you could spray them to match your theme like this one).
Store the pines in an empty vase or deep bowl for the best effect. We grow holly in our grounds, while we don’t let the children fetch this, my husband grabs some while out and about foraging. The holly can be sprayed or kept green, we use it on our mantel piece and as well for hooking around the bannisters.
Take the children to pick their own Christmas decoration. Every year the boys choose a new decoration to hang on the tree then we put them away once we take the tree down and save them for when they grow up and have families and Christmas tree sanctions(!), you can find some hand made decorations to buy online here or wait until I publish my blog post about how to make your own. If you’re the type to go to foreign Christmas markets, do keep an eye out for gorgeous hand woven lace decorations, you just can’t buy the quality of them here in the UK! I know it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of life, but those three weeks of December where my life is turned upside down with stress (financial) it is wonderful to sit down to a glass of mulled wine (recipe to follow) in your beautiful surroundings and not see an illuminated penguin on the lawn, through the window. By boxing day however, I have resigned to the fact that there will be pine needles in Henry’s paws and down the back of my sofa for the rest of the year.