‘Christmas is no time for traditional ideas of good taste’: Skandium’s collection of gnomes

Decorating for the festive season presents all sorts of dilemmas. Do you haul out the well-loved box of family hand-me-downs or opt for a super-sophisticated theme? The tree, inevitably, is the focal point, and this year department stores are stocking some particularly charming traditional decorations, such as John Lewis’s Midwinter range and Liberty’s glass baubles that encase miniature ships, birds and animals.

Animal attraction: Liberty’s reindeer in the woods clear glass bauble, £4.95
Animal attraction: Liberty’s reindeer in the woods clear glass bauble, £4.95

The festive table is the other place to make an impact. Gold cutlery has become hugely popular this season, with brands such as West Elm and Canvas Home getting in on the trend. Colourful glass will add a cheerful note: try Heal’s stripy tumblers or Waterford’s coloured crystal champagne glasses. A box of well-chosen crackers is also a must-have – the National Gallery’s Nutcracker set will raise a smile.

As the features director of House & Garden, David Nicholls has strong ideas about festive decorating. “Christmas is no time for traditional ideas of ‘good taste’,” he says. “Over the past few years I’ve found myself increasingly drawn to theChristmas gnomes from Skandium. I already have a few and am sure to buy another. I can’t look at them without smiling.

The festive table is a good place to make an impact’: West Elm gold cutlery five-piece place setting, £34

“I find the idea of ‘a look’ for Christmas deeply depressing,” he continues. “I use the bits I’ve had for years, things I’ve borrowed and swapped from my mum’s tree in Canada, decorations I’ve bought on holiday, including beautiful African angels picked up in Cape Town. I see it as a collection being curated and added to slowly. I like the interior designer Alidad’s advice that ‘the tree should be the crescendo of your decorating’ – he decorates his with pomegranates, apples and tangerines with cloves instead of baubles. The designer Joanna Wood trims her trees with flowers. Both ideas are inspiring me this Christmas.”

Selvedge editor Polly Leonard takes a different approach. “For me, Christmas is all about scent. I look for good-quality scented candles, which make great gifts. A particular favourite is Zermatt by Astier de Villatte, which smells like an alpine village with touches of cranberries and liquorice. Their Heartwear scented candle is also good (and a little less expensive). Rachel Vosper does candle-making workshops so you can make your own.”

Like Nicholls, Leonard also believes in incorporating flowers into Christmas schemes. “I use flowers for festive decorating, especially a basket of white hyacinths as a table centre. It is nice to have a tiny touch of spring, and the scent is so uplifting, especially on a day spent with extended family and the central heating turned up! The New Craftsman has lovely baskets by Hilary Burns that would work well. Finally, to greet my guests I have a wreath on the door. Jess and Charlie of One Flew Over do wreath-making workshops that you can book.”

‘You can’t beat a real tree’: 6ft Nordmann fir, £53.95, pinesandneedles.com

Editor-in-chief of Elle Decoration Michelle Ogundehin describes herself as “a classic Christmas girl”. Her tree of choice is a 6ft Nordmann fir, ordered and delivered every year from pinesandneedles.com, that she decorates with white, silver and clear glass baubles. “I have quite an impressive collection now, as I’ve added one or two every year. It’s my Christmas ritual – the buying-of-the-new-baubles! They range from beautiful clear soap-bubble baubles to white ceramic snowflakes which I bought from a German supermarket.

“In previous years my tree has always been topped by a slightly wonky angel, but this year I’m hoping my two-year old will make something splendid involving a toilet tube and glitter, and that will stand proudly on top of the tree instead. In terms of trends, I loathe the seeming need to fancy up the tree by colouring it black or turning it upside down or any of that nonsense. You can never beat a real tree, but there are also some fantastic I-can’t-believe-they’re-not-real fake ones if you want one to keep every year. Although my personal bauble palette is rather restrained, it’s fun to go crazy with the decorations. Habitat always has a reasonably priced selection, as do Heal’s and most large department stores.”

Ogundehin’s tips for festive decorating are simple. “Leave fluffy bits or pompoms in the box, along with the tinsel. Stick to white lights. Have a green tree – preferably real. Go mad with the ornaments, but stick to a palette.” Keep things simple, in other words, but not too simple.

 [Source:- The Gurdian]

By Adam