10 Steps To A Fab, Fuss-Free Cel­e­bra­tion

Melbourne’s most gra­cious host, Chyka Kee­baugh, re­veals her se­crets to a stylish – and stress-free – Christ­mas.

Australian House & Garden - - News - STORY Sarah Pick­ette | STYLING Ruth Welsby | PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Martina Gem­mola

For Chyka Kee­baugh, Christ­mas is def­i­nitely the most won­der­ful time of the year. “I’m ob­sessed with Christ­mas!” says the busi­ness­woman and blog­ger who made her name plan­ning ex­traor­di­nary events. “I don’ t un­der­stand it when peo­ple say they haven’ t dec­o­rated the house or they’ve left their shop­ping to the last minute. I like to start think­ing about gifts mid-year and I love plan­ning a theme for how I’ll dec­o­rate my home.”

This year, Chyka has cho­sen on-trend for­est green to flow right through her Melbourne home. “It’s im­por­tant that ev­ery­thing is co­he­sive and there are touches of Christ­mas in ev­ery room.” That could mean minia­ture trees on the kitchen bench, a sub­tle waft of cloves drift­ing from can­dles in the hall­way and beau­ti­ful bars of fir-scented soap in the bath­rooms.

“Life moves fast these days,” says Chyka. “It’s more im­por­tant than ever to em­brace the fes­tive sea­son as a time to slow down and gather friends and fam­ily around you. This is our chance to re­flect on the past year – and have a lit­tle fun in the process.”


“I hang a wreath on the front door ev­ery year; that’s my an­nounce­ment to the world that we’re a fam­ily of Christ­mas lovers! We have a tra­di­tion we stick to ev­ery year: we pick a date in De­cem­ber, get the whole fam­ily to­gether, or­der pizza and pour some bub­bles. Then we dec­o­rate the tree and hang the wreath. This year I’m go­ing with a beau­ti­ful sil­ver dol­lar gum wreath tied up with an enor­mous satin bow.”


“Shady trees al­low for great al­fresco lunches, and at night I like to group masses of can­dles on the ta­ble or hang lanterns in the branches. I’m a big be­liever in us­ing your best plates and glasses out­side, too. Why have all those beau­ti­ful things if you don’t use them? When it comes to food, it’s bet­ter to have too much than not enough – af­ter all, de­li­cious left­overs are one of the won­der­ful things about Christ­mas.”


“Once I have my Christ­mas theme de­cided, I start think­ing about items I can re­pur­pose. I’m a big be­liever in us­ing what you have and not nec­es­sar­ily go­ing out and buy­ing more stuff. True cre­ativ­ity is look­ing at your home through fresh eyes. Shift­ing your din­ing ta­ble to a dif­fer­ent room or out­side could be the an­swer. Shake things up and you might find you only need to buy a cou­ple of ex­tra bits and pieces to pull ev­ery­thing to­gether.”


“Hav­ing worked in the cater­ing in­dus­try for years, I un­der­stand the im­por­tance of prepa­ra­tion. Lists are my friend! One thing I in­sist on do­ing is set­ting the ta­ble for Christ­mas lunch on Christ­mas Eve. There’s no rea­son why you can’t have most of it in place and ready to go, which frees you up on Christ­mas morn­ing. Other things I do the day be­fore are prep the vegeta­bles for our roast and restock the drinks trol­ley.”


“My idea for this year is to set my din­ing ta­ble un­der a for­est of deep-green bal­loons. Sus­pended like a chan­de­lier from the bal­loons is a spray of Christ­mas fo­liage – holly, ivy, mistle­toe and pine branches. It’s my take on an in­verted Christ­mas tree: the dec­o­ra­tions sit above the branches in­stead of the other way around. Flow­ers Vasette in Fitzroy is my go-to for Christ­mas green­ery; the florists there al­ways do a won­der­ful job. This look is all about cre­at­ing a sense of oc­ca­sion and hav­ing fun with it. Few things are more play­ful than bal­loons!”


“When my hus­band Bruce and I first mar­ried, I was 23 and we had very lit­tle money. I could only af­ford a cou­ple of red Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions for our tree, but that was the start of my col­lec­tion. Now, when I travel, I buy a dec­o­ra­tion or two to add to it. They’re all very tra­di­tional and I can tell you ex­actly where I bought each of them. They’ve be­come lovely, sen­ti­men­tal me­men­tos. This year, though, I wanted to keep the look min­i­mal be­cause there’s so much colour on the ceil­ing and tex­ture on the ta­ble. I opted for a real tree with clear fairy lights. The smell is so fresh and the sparkling lights give the per­fect glow to the deep green decor.”


“I like to in­vite friends who might not have fam­ily around to join us on Christ­mas Day. This year, I’m go­ing to knock their socks off with a dessert in the shape of a bauble. It has mousse hid­den in­side.” For Chyka’sr ecipe, goto home­stolove.com.au/ahg


“The colour of the rib­bon on my wreath will be the colour of my gift wrap­ping, my ta­ble set­tings, my crack­ers – ev­ery­thing. I buy stacks of wrap­ping pa­per and that way no one in my fam­ily has any rea­son to de­vi­ate!”


“Part of the fun of Christ­mas is dream­ing up a spe­cial cock­tail, and this year it’s a won­der­ful mix of gin, el­der­flower, mint, cu­cum­ber and gin­ger beer. I’ll also have plenty of ex­tra sparkling wa­ter and bot­tles of bub­bles for any un­ex­pected guests. There are al­ways three or four gifts un­der the tree for such vis­i­tors: a beau­ti­ful olive oil or chut­ney, or a block of pink Hi­malayan salt with a tiny grater. Who wouldn’t love a gift like that?” ForChyka’ s full cock­tail recipe, go­to­home­stolove.com.au/ahg


“I can never find crack­ers that match my colour theme so I in­vari­ably end up mak­ing my own. I fill them with lit­tle treats and trin­kets that I’ve cho­sen for each guest. It’s great fun to do and adds to the ex­cite­ment of Christ­mas.” # See more of Chyka’s style at chyka.com.

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