Make your Christ­mas cel­e­bra­tion an al fresco af­fair

Keep Christ­mas sim­ple by spend­ing the day al fresco. Just add food, whanau and a few stylish dec­o­ra­tions

Your Home and Garden - - Contents - Text by Fiona Ralph.

Mod­ern min­i­mal

If you live in an apart­ment or a house with a small pa­tio, you can still have a fun fes­tive sea­son outdoors.

In­stead of a tra­di­tional Christ­mas tree, find a beau­ti­ful branch or dec­o­rate a small tree of any kind if you have one. A few white dec­o­ra­tions will look clean and clas­sic, es­pe­cially when placed against a dark wall. Keep colours sim­ple and mostly mono­chrome, with one or two ex­tra hues for added in­ter­est. Re­mem­ber, things don’t have to look per­fect – ran­domly placed ob­jects will add to the set­ting’s charm.

If you don’t have an out­door ta­ble, place a rug or some mats on the floor to make the space com­fort­able for pic­nick­ing.

Coastal Christ­mas

Even if a hol­i­day by the beach isn’t on the cards this year, you can still bring a re­laxed, beachy vibe to your cel­e­bra­tions.

Col­lect shells and drift­wood from the beach, and make or buy strings of wooden beads. You can also buy a se­lec­tion of ce­ramic starfish at gift shops. These can be threaded with shells onto a piece of twine and hung as a gar­land.

Nat­u­ral tones, shades of blue and striped ac­cents will bring the look of the sea­side to your out­door area. Keep it light and fresh with beachy in­flu­ences. To recre­ate the beach in your back­yard you could even use sand to make a Christ­mas tree base.

Nat­u­ral tex­tures such as sea­grass, raf­fia and cot­ton will work well with this set­ting. Twine and rope will also add a nau­ti­cal touch. A ham­mock or hang­ing chair will set the scene, or you can sim­ply layer cush­ions and beach mats.

Bring the ca­sual, coastal in­flu­ence into the food you serve – think fresh fruit, seafood and trop­i­cal drinks.

STYLE TIP A col­lec­tion of sim­ple ob­jects, such as glass ves­sels in dif­fer­ent sizes and hues, can be ef­fec­tive. You could place branches in these or leave them bare.

This set­ting is easy to tran­si­tion out of the fes­tive sea­son – just take down the wreath and baubles.

STYLE TIP If you have LED fairy lights (that don’t get hot) jazz them up with pretty col­lected shells. Use a hot glue gun or su­per glue to at­tach shells to the plas­tic light cas­ing.

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