Christ­mas style tips

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Fill wine and cor­dial bot­tles with boiled or dis­tilled wa­ter (to stop the wa­ter from cloud­ing too soon) and place sprigs of fo­liage or woody herbs in­side. Use as hold­ers for ele­gant ta­per can­dles. Cre­ate whim­si­cal free-form wreaths and gar­lands from fo­liage cut­tings. Use gold and cop­per craft wire and black leather cord for con­trast and a hint of shine. Spray paint is an easy way to add some un­der­stated bling. Coat found objects such as seed pods and dried flow­ers in an­tique gold and cop­per. Paint fo­liage sprigs in black for an edgy vari­a­tion of the idea. Keep gift- wrap­ping sim­ple and rus­tic. Crin­kle brown pa­per and plain newsprint into tight balls and then flat­ten for an or­ganic, crushed linen look. Give each present its own unique treat­ment: ex­per­i­ment with white and brown twine and use fo­liage sprigs and spray-painted seed pods as em­bel­lish­ment. Wrap the twine ca­su­ally for an in­for­mal look. Strings of fairy lights are a Christ­mas es­sen­tial: left in vases, in the fire­place, draped over the man­tle, around door frames or hang­ing from the ceil­ing in the cor­ner of a room. Ap­proach a monochro­matic ta­ble set­ting like a fash­ion de­signer fo­cus­ing on lay­er­ing and tex­ture: think shades of chalk, grey, char­coal and bone. An­chor the scheme with a beau­ti­ful linen table­cloth; set places with vin­tage sil­ver-plated cut­lery, rough- edged linen nap­kins tied with hemp string and hand­made crock­ery (black adds drama). Serve your guests a de­con­structed ‘naked’ cake: make two clas­sic sponges (one large, one medium) and trim them into cir­cu­lar shapes. Layer only the tops of each cake with but­ter­cream frost­ing (hence the term ‘naked’) and sprin­kle on a fine layer of edi­ble glit­ter. Em­bel­lish with herb sprigs. Wrap thick pil­lar can­dles of vary­ing sizes with gold or cop­per craft wire.

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