The Drama of Christmas
December 7, 2015
One of my usual motto’s in life is “less is more” but when it comes to Christmas that goes out the window and it switches to “more is more”. Before I focused entirely on design projects I had a furniture and design showroom and each November I dedicated the ground floor to Christmas decorations and the whole place went glitter crazy.
I have always loved the excitement of Christmas and after all the years of dressing clients houses with trees, swags and garlands I never managed to find the time to decorate my own house to its full potential. Decorating usually happened on Christmas Eve, I would book my delivery guys to take a display tree fully intact and deliver to my house! Luckily this year we needed a location to shoot this blog post so where better than in my own home.
I am currently in the process of writing my on-line design courses and thought you might enjoy getting a flavour of what is to come by sharing some of my Christmas decorating tips which I have learned along the Christmas glitter path…
Oh Christmas Tree!
– Whether your preference is for a real or artificial tree, the fuller and taller the better. Don’t be afraid to go as high as your ceiling, leaving just enough room for your star or angel.
-When selecting a real tree the Nordic Fir is my preference, as it tends to be fuller and easier to decorate.
-Artificial trees have come a long way, and there are beauties to be found, the advantage of an artificial tree is that they are easy to decorate, no shedding and they work best with under-floor heating.
-If you prefer a real tree make sure it can be watered easily and shave off the bark at the base so it can absorb as much water as possible.
-To give you more space when positioning your tree in a corner, trim the back branches off the bottom, or if it is an artificial tree you can bend the lower branches at the back as this will keep it snug to the wall. It is sensible if doing this to wire the tree to the wall behind to keep it from landing on top of you some evening – this happened to a friend of mine after he placed his final bauble on his 8ft tree!
-Regardless of real or artificial, the more branches you have the more opportunity there is to load it with baubles and lights.
Lights are like shoes; you can never have too many. Honestly, if you think you are over-doing it on the lights- add another hundred. I know it is a job getting them on and off, but no pain no gain!
-When buying lights look for a warm white instead of a bright white.
-It is important to start hanging the lights at the top and work your way down with the string of lights so all the plugs end up at the bottom (and yes this does happen, plugs end up suspended in trees…). Begin at the top and snake the lights down the edge of your tree in even sections, tucking some lights in here and there through the branches and continue again along the outer branches. This is very important on a real tree as it covers the gaps you may have between branches.
-On an artificial tree it is very effective to fix some of your lights in twos on the tips of the branches by twisting them together with the branch, this gives the tree a wonderful shape.
-The longer the string of lights the softer the glow as the power is split between more bulbs. I usually use 100 or 200 bulb strings of lights as anything less can be too bright.
-When the dreaded task of taking all your work back down begins, make sure to make it as user-friendly as possible for the next year, it will be worth it. An easy way to look after Christmas lights is to roll up a newspaper in to a cylinder shape and tape it closed both ends. Begin by taping the first light to one end and wrap your lights around the length of the roll. Finish by taping the plug to the other end, and try not to overlap the string if possible to avoid getting them tangled.
Deck the Halls!
My Christmas tree reminds me of my mums charm bracelet, I was always fascintated by it when I was a little girl, so much to look at and each charm so different just like my collection of tree decorations. Some of my favourites being the crazy kissing fish and especially some of the decorations I bought when my kids were babies like the angels on clouds.
I always thought I would be the type of person to have an understated Christmas tree, mine is anything but. I love to cram as many decorations on as possible to give the tree layers of interest, and I find it hard to leave beautiful decorations in a box when there is always room for one more!
-To begin to create layers on your tree you should stock up on ‘filler’ baubles i.e.; plain coloured and glitter baubles in different sizes. They can be in lots of different colours or simply shades of gold. These ‘fillers’ form a foundation for your decorative baubles.
-It is best to begin with hanging the biggest baubles on the bottom, medium sized baubles in the middle and the smallest on the top of your tree, weaving them through the branches.
-Leave your favourite baubles for the end of your branches where you can see them and where they make an impact.
-Each year it is important to pack up your decorations correctly so when it comes to unpacking the next year they are organized and easy to work with. I use clear plastic tubs with lids, a layer of bubble wrap can be put through each box to help prevent breakage. It is important to store glass baubles together and the unbreakables separate to the glass as they tend to be heavier.
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…
For those who think one tree is enough or only have room for one, a great way to bring christmas through your home is by decorating your fireplace mantel.
Again I like to over-dramatize the lights and decorations on our fireplace. Pair it with a roaring fire and you’ll never want to leave.
-There are some fantastic garlands available that look so natural with luscious greenery and acorns. If possible find one that tapers out at the end as it is the best shape for dressing your mantel.
-To give height and drama begin by grouping a cluster of large, medium and small baubles in the middle of the garland. Taper the size of the baubles outwards until you reach the edges of the mantelpiece. Again, group clusters of baubles at each end and then taper to the smallest of baubles where the garland drapes down the sides of the fireplace.
-It is also nice to add holly or natural ferns and acorns if using artificial swags to fill it out.
-If renovating or building make sure to add a standard or 5 amp socket each side of all your fireplaces and canopy over the kitchen as they do come in handy at this time of year and saves on the extension leads.
When setting your Christmas table it is nice to add a little sparkle. To dress my own table I use my favourite napkins and placemats and add in natural greenery, acorns and lots of candles to give it a festive feel. There are so many fun and easy ideas to add your own personalilty and to make your setting unique, you could simply tie a piece of hessian or string around your napkins in order to hold a little sprig of fir, mistletoe or a Christmas decoration.
As I like the tree and fireplace to be the drama in the house I tend to be more subtle with the rest of the house. It is nice to collect a few pieces like these little wooden angels which are perfect to set on a console or kitchen countertop beside a scented candle.
And finally I had to add this photo of “Bubbles” getting into the festive cheer – she looks like she is dreaming of a White Christmas !
I hope some of these tips will come in useful, looking forward to hearing from you.
Wishing you all a very happy and sparkling Christmas!
Miriam (aka Minnie)