LIVING COLUMN Slow down and take a pared-back approach to the festive season.
Slow down and take a more pared-back approach to the festive season this year
E very year, Christmas seems to creep up on me. My usual workload and ‘to do’ list do not magically disappear in those weeks prior to the festive period, so by the time I’ve battled my way through my deadlines, it’s suddenly upon us and I feel altogether unprepared. What is supposed to be a special and relaxing time of year often becomes stressful and panic-ridden in my household as we try to nd the perfect gifts, perform expert gift wrapping and make our home t for Father Christmas. Well, this year I’m approaching the season with a di erent frame of mind. That pared-back aesthetic I’ve been applying to my home is the exact philosophy I plan to apply to yuletide too.
We are bombarded by Christmas marketing, usually from the start of October (it should be banned until after Halloween, at least!) and I, for one, tend to get ‘festive fatigue’ by the time the big day rolls around. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Scrooge, but I feel I am ready for a gentler, quieter approach, where the decorating and gift giving has more sentiment and less excess.
One of my favourite things is, of course, decorating the house, but due to the aforementioned lack of time, creating a more simplistic Christmas aesthetic is the perfect solution. The tree does not need to be laden in decorations – in fact, why not consider a tree with no adornment, but very simply placed in a woven basket or hessian sack and sprinkled with fairy lights? If you can’t imagine Christmas without hanging decorations, then spend a weekend afternoon making a few – get kids involved in simple ideas like making stars from small twigs and twine, cutting out shapes from air-drying clay or dipping pinecones in paint.
Keeping your décor natural creates a very Scandinavian feel, which of course is all the rage right now, and it’s so much more relaxing than a home lled with ashing reindeer and waving Santas. Opt for lots of foliage like eucalyptus, pine and rosemary, which all contribute to scenting your home, too – an equally important part of creating the perfect atmosphere. Make simple wreaths from greenery, either from a wire hanger bent into a circular shape, or go large and wrap a hula-hoop in neutral coloured fabric and twist round stems of ivy and eucalyptus. Stock up on candles and enjoy how something so simple can completely alter the ambience of a room.
On the big day, if you are hosting, keeping your table décor simple will free you up to enjoy cooking and time with your family. A linen tablecloth, a little greenery and lots of candles are really all you need. If you have the time, I like to make little packages lled with sweet treats for my guests – much nicer than the junk you get inside crackers!
If you particularly enjoy the table styling part of the day (I know I do!) then consider how to introduce lots of natural elements. You could make a candle holder from a small log by hollowing out holes along the top edge, or create place names by simply writing your guests’ names on an ivy leaf with a metallic pen. If your calligraphy skills aren’t up to it, search Pinterest for printable name cards – there’s lots available in beautiful script that you can print out onto card, then simply tie with twine around your napkins and add a sprig of scented foliage. Cinnamon sticks are a lovely addition to place settings too, and your company will relish in the aroma.
Simplifying your Christmas preparation and your décor will mean more time to enjoy what really matters at this time of year. Plus, when it’s all over, rather than packing boxes of plastic decorations back into the loft, your natural elements can go on the compost or garden waste and your paper decorations can be recycled! Wishing you a peaceful and pared-back festive holiday.