Good Morning and welcome to Wednesday Ad Break. This week I have collaborated with Next on a post about getting ready for Christmas. Too soon? It’s just under a month people, we need to face up to this now. Of course, I’m sure many of you are way ahead with present buying and list-making but it can also be fun to change the decor a little – just to make it a tad seasonal.
When I was small we lived with my Grandmother and I always knew it was Christmas because the furniture would be moved around. The large sofa, which normally divided the drawing room, was moved back against the wall and the upright white armchair, which normally lived in the corner was moved forward. That was my Great-Grandmother’s chair and, as far as I could tell, existed only for her to sit on for three days a year. But when that chair moved forward it was time.
These days most of us don’t live in spaces big enough to move furniture around but there are other changes we can make to signify holiday season and it’s not just about the tree.
For the record I don’t hold with having a tree up for weeks on end. The needles invariably drop and the whole thing often looks a bit sad by the 25th. Not to mention the fact that those things take up a huge amount of space. And at a time when you might have more people in the house so space might be at a premium.
I prefer to decorate in a way that takes up less room. So for me it’s about adding a couple of festive cushions to the sofa. Or some Christmas pillow cases in the guest bedroom along with a pretty candle – after all if you can’t go a bit kitsch at Christmas when can you. Tis the season when more is more after all. I’m not actually suggesting you fill the bath with baubles although, you know, pretty…. but since we’re looking at bathrooms, Next also sell alphabet towels, which make lovely additions to the guest room or even as presents.
As you know, I often theme my presents, so you could either add a personal touch to the guest bedroom with a set of personalised towels and a Christmas pillowcase. Or you could go down the route of buying pretty lotions and potions and adding in a make-up bag and a monogrammed towel etc. That way you can start as small as you want and keep going till you’ve reached peak budget.
Given that this is the season of Christmas cheer then this might be the perfect time to buy a drinks trolley. If you want to buy one as a present then don’t forget you can build up that as a present with glasses and a cocktail kit as well as a bottle or two of something heartwarming. Last year my producer, Kate, gave her sister a set of cocktail glasses and the ingredients to make espresso martinis – I understand a very merry time was had by all.
Years ago I wrote a piece for The Independent about the new trend for personalising presents and it’s still going strong. Now you can personalise everything from the afore-mentioned towels to personalised decorations, which might at first seem strange, but they make brilliant present labels, or seasonal place settings, and then the recipient can keep them for years to come.
When the boys were little I always bought a couple of new tree decorations every year – in addition to the ones they made a nursery and primary school – and as a result the tree is full of memories as well as baubles. This plan won’t work for those of you who like a colour scheme on the tree, but perhaps you can buy another little tree to hang the souvenirs on and put it in a different place.
Another seasonal trick is to change up the lighting. I have a Swedish friend who always adds star lights and fairy lights at this time of year. I have accused her of putting the decorations up too early but she said that it’s more about creating a welcoming atmosphere during the long dark days and when you put it like that it makes perfect sense.
We had a string of fairly lights wound up the bannisters for years which made a much softer, and prettier, welcome than the harsh overhead pendant. You can also put them round picture frames or, if you have battery operated ones, in large glass bowls will will reflect the light back out as well.
So there you have a few ideas to get the house ready. Now all you need to do is start the shopping.