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.
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.”
1 CHRISTMAS STARTS AT THE DOOR
“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.”
2 TAKE IT OUTSIDE
“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.”
3 TABLE SMARTS
“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.”
4 READY, SET...
“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.”
5 SEAT OF CELEBRATION
“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!”
6 BRANCHING OUT
“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.”
7 SWEET SURPRISE
“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
8 COLOUR CODE
“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!”
9 POUR TOI
“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
10 GO CRACKERS
“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.