Christ­mas at home with the CRE­ATIVES

De­sign­ers, mak­ers and in­flu­encers share their dec­o­rat­ing tips, neat cheats, fam­ily recipes and gift ideas for adding a chic and unique twist to the cel­e­bra­tions

Homes & Gardens - - NEWS -

SUZY HOOD­LESS In­te­rior de­signer, suzy­hood­

This year, I’ll be kick­ing back in our west Lon­don home. I love bring­ing to­gether the tra­di­tions I was brought up with and in­tro­duc­ing my own layer, too. It’s fun and ut­terly ex­haust­ing, so there are, of course, a few short­cuts. I love Nigel Slater’s The Christ­mas

Chron­i­cles. He rec­om­mends cook­ing al­most ev­ery­thing in the days pre­ced­ing the big event, in­clud­ing the gravy. It’s a book of notes, sto­ries and recipes for mid­win­ter. And my favourite hack with awk­ward-shaped presents is to make rec­tan­gu­lar bags out of wrap­ping pa­per, be­fore drop­ping the present in.

I of­ten give my hus­band a paint­ing sourced from Rowe & Williams gallery in Yox­ford, Suf­folk. It just seems like a very per­sonal gift and some­thing he might not buy him­self.

I’ll be ring­ing the changes dec­o­ra­tively by fill­ing the house with over­sized green­ery and slot­ting in brightly coloured flow­ers and birds, plus tons of lights and even more can­dles. I add to my dec­o­ra­tions each year, buy­ing a few things as and when I see them. Sound and scent are im­por­tant, too: I have an­gel chimes from my grand­mother that make the most won­der­ful tin­kling noise, as well as pine-scented can­dles.

My ideal Christ­mas lunch starts with smoked trout on rye with horse­rad­ish crème fraîche and cham­pagne. Then we have roast goose, ap­ple sauce, le­mon potato stuff­ing and Marsala gravy, plus my mother’s puréed car­rots and parsnips. On Box­ing Day, we cook hot smoked fish and leek pie.

On my ul­ti­mate guest list would be my fam­ily of course, plus Pi­casso, Peggy Guggen­heim and Hans Weg­ner.


I’ll be spend­ing Christ­mas back in Aer­den­hout in the Nether­lands where my par­ents live. The whole fam­ily, in­clud­ing my three sib­lings and their part­ners and chil­dren, will gather to­gether. There will be 21 of us in to­tal.

This year we have in­vited my fam­ily to come over just be­fore Christ­mas to ex­pe­ri­ence Lon­don’s un­ri­valled fes­tive vibe. Our Christ­mas gift to all of them is tick­ets for car­ols at the Royal Al­bert Hall. We have been once be­fore and I know now how to pre­pare. We’ll dress up and bring as many bright and flash­ing Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions as pos­si­ble.

Be­ing Dutch, we don’t do gifts at Christ­mas. In­stead, Sin­terk­laas (Saint Ni­cholas) comes early in De­cem­ber. We com­pen­sate by dec­o­rat­ing the tree ex­trav­a­gantly and light­ing as many can­dles in the house as pos­si­ble.

My fan­tasy feast would be a Dutch fam­ily lunch in a snow-cov­ered

Lon­don with fam­ily and friends. We would dine at Ken­wood House, my favourite spot in Lon­don, but it wouldn’t be a for­mal event, more a gen­er­ous feast with fin­ger food. After lunch, we would all go sledg­ing and ice-skat­ing on the lake down the hill, which would be frozen and dec­o­rated with thou­sands of lights. We’d fin­ish by the fire­place with hot choco­late and some­one play­ing the piano.

On my ul­ti­mate guest list would be my grand­mother. She is the one that in­spired me to pur­sue my cre­ative dream, but she passed away be­fore I could. Apart from her cre­ative tal­ent, she was an An­glophile and an English teacher at school, so she would love a Christ­mas lunch in Lon­don.

NATALIA MIYAR Ar­chi­tect and in­te­rior de­signer, na­tal­iami­

I’m head­ing to Mi­ami for the fes­tiv­i­ties – it’s a won­der­ful time to be there as my dear friends who live all over the world come home for Christ­mas. There are din­ners and al­fresco drinks par­ties and the Florida sun­shine gives ev­ery­thing a re­laxed feel.

Dec­o­rat­ing the table with beau­ti­fully wrapped small gifts is a great way of adding a layer of adorn­ment with­out need­ing ex­tra dec­o­ra­tions. I also like to keep the menu sim­ple by in­cor­po­rat­ing food that does not re­quire cook­ing, such as stone crab, smoked fish, caviar and cham­pagne – the prepa­ra­tion is min­i­mal but the in­dul­gence fac­tor is high!

The most un­usual gift I’m giv­ing this year is cook­ing classes to my nephew. It’s not a typ­i­cal gift for a six-year-old, but I’m hop­ing it will in­spire a life­long love of food.

Each year I col­lect one-of-a-kind

pieces that I find on my trav­els to add to my ever-grow­ing col­lec­tion of table­ware. Re­cently, in St Moritz, I bought some fab­u­lous cock­tail nap­kins em­broi­dered with ex­otic an­i­mals. They go per­fectly with some cock­tail glasses etched with cheetah, ele­phant, gi­raffe and tiger mo­tifs that I bought in Mi­ami. This year’s theme in­volves a trop­i­cal­for­est-like set­ting with ferns, palms and ev­er­greens, topped off with in­tri­cate an­i­mal or­na­ments. I am sure it will be a hit with my neph­ews.

When it comes to my cock­tail trol­ley, I of­ten throw Cuban-themed par­ties so rum-based cock­tails are a must. A firm fam­ily favourite is Romeo y Juli­eta (named after the Cuban cigar). The in­gre­di­ents are Bac­ardi rum, lime, guava and car­damom bit­ters, to­bacco liquor and smok­ing to­bacco leaf.

EMMA SIMS-HILDITCH In­te­rior de­signer,

This year, I’ll be cel­e­brat­ing in our cosy barn in Wilt­shire. We al­ways try and spend Christ­mas at home so that we can have an ex­tended fam­ily day.

My best fes­tive cheat is to half roast and re­frig­er­ate the pota­toes in goose fat a day or two be­fore Christ­mas. Then give them their sec­ond roast­ing on the day, which takes half the time and frees up the oven for the bird.

I’m giv­ing my three adult chil­dren a wine-tast­ing day with lunch in Lon­don. We are great ap­pre­ci­a­tors of good wine and this will hope­fully give them some knowl­edge while also al­low­ing us to gather to­gether.

I love to bring the out­side in when I dec­o­rate. This year I will be out in the coun­try­side for­ag­ing for wild berries, fir branches and ivy to cre­ate table dec­o­ra­tions and gar­lands. Scent is also im­por­tant to me and I find Dip­tyque’s Cin­na­mon can­dle very fes­tive.

We al­ways have an ad­vent tree. I’ll use a minia­ture Christ­mas tree and make lit­tle ad­vent parcels to hang from the branches. Then each day when a par­cel is plucked, we re­place it with a dec­o­ra­tion. This is the tree from which I’ll hang all of the crum­pled heir­loom dec­o­ra­tions that I don’t want to throw away but aren’t quite to my taste any more. Even though my chil­dren are grown up now, they still adore this rit­ual.

My fan­tasy Christ­mas would have a Scan­di­na­vian feel. It would be fun to chal­lenge our cook­ing skills and take in­spi­ra­tion from the North­ern cli­mate. And our tip­ple of choice is cham­pagne with a home-made rasp­berry liqueur.

SUZANNE SHARP Co-founder, The Rug Com­pany, therug­com­

Ev­ery year we make mince pies whilst

lis­ten­ing to Christ­mas car­ols. We fill bowls with Qual­ity Street and dec­o­rate the tree with items we’ve col­lected over the years. We watch the same movies, too, in­clud­ing Not­ting Hill and Na­tional Lam­poon’s Christ­mas Va­ca­tion. My granny’s tri­fle al­ways makes an ap­pear­ance at Christ­mas. The in­gre­di­ents are: 300g sponge cake; rasp­berry jam, to taste; 50ml sweet sherry; 225g sliced peaches or rasp­ber­ries; 100g dark choco­late, chopped into chunks; 300g ri­cotta; 600ml dou­ble cream; zest of one small le­mon; hand­ful of flaked toasted al­monds. To make, spread the cake with a layer of jam, cut into chunks and put half in the bot­tom of a dish. Driz­zle half the sherry on top, then add half the fruit. Mix the choco­late into the ri­cotta, and spread half on top. Whisk the cream with the le­mon zest and spread half on the ri­cotta. Re­peat and fin­ish with a sprin­kling of al­monds.

I’ll be ring­ing the changes dec­o­ra­tively by tun­ing our din­ing room into an over­grown gar­den. The eas­i­est way to do this is to load the man­tel­piece with fo­liage, bear­ing in mind scale and height. I weave in baubles and fairy lights for sparkle. The table is scat­tered with green­ery and usu­ally stems of cos­mos. Then we add sheep­skins on the chairs for an in­stantly cosy feel.

MOLLY MA­HON Tex­tile de­signer, mol­lyma­

When it comes to wrap­ping I buy rolls of brown pa­per and let the chil­dren have a mas­sive print off. We use my blocks and carved pota­toes, too. To keep the look vaguely so­phis­ti­cated, I limit the pal­ette to two colours. This year we are go­ing for turmeric and red.

I’m giv­ing my mother-in-law a hand-block-printed pink be­spoke dog

bed. We don’t sell them yet, but her dog Tilly is go­ing to test run it for us.

This year I’ll be us­ing our new red and pink stripe table­cloth and re­ally go­ing to town on this colour

theme. There will be bright pink can­dles and glasses. My daugh­ter loves to make flow­ers out of tis­sue and the boys might make pa­per stars to stick on the win­dows. We make our own crack­ers us­ing our block-printed pa­per. The fi­nal touch is swap­ping the fab­ric blue lamp­shade that hangs over the table for a fes­tive red.

I am a real tra­di­tion­al­ist when it comes to Christ­mas lunch, so we will be hav­ing turkey and all the trim­mings. I get up re­ally early to put the bird in the oven – I love to do it, as I can then light the fire and put the car­ols on be­fore any­one has wo­ken.

My ul­ti­mate guest list would be full of cre­ative women so that I can talk all things dec­o­ra­tive with them. Guests would in­clude Vanessa Bell of Charles­ton; Frida Kahlo; my style icon the Duchess of Devon­shire; Bri­tish il­lus­tra­tor and au­thor Mar­ion Deuchars; colour the­o­rist An­gela Wright; Gitto Patni, my men­tor in Jaipur; printed tex­tile de­signer Pat Al­beck; and Bel­gian artist Is­abelle de Borch­grave.

I’ll be ring­ing the changes dec­o­ra­tively by turn­ing our din­ing room into an over­grown gar­den

The most un­usual Christ­mas gift I am giv­ing this year is prob­a­bly the mer­maid tail for my six-year-old

MARTIN BRUD­NIZKI In­te­rior ar­chi­tect,

I’ll be spend­ing Christ­mas in my home in Par­sons Green, Lon­don. The city is such an un­usual place on Christ­mas Day, it’s so quiet and the streets are empty, which is ex­actly what I need after a busy year. I will likely visit my par­ents in Stock­holm a few days be­fore­hand and en­joy some tra­di­tional Swedish Christ­mas spirit, too.

I think the wrap­ping is as much a part of the present as the ac­tual gift. I take great pride in my wrap­ping abil­i­ties and love choos­ing papers and rib­bons that will add a lit­tle some­thing ex­tra to the bot­tom of the tree.

Dec­o­rat­ing is my favourite part of

Christ­mas. I al­ways have a real tree and it will be drip­ping in tra­di­tional glass baubles, gold and red rib­bons and white lights. I have col­lected these or­na­ments over many years, some are from Sven­skt Tenn, one of my favourite shops in Stock­holm, and oth­ers from Lib­erty.

The house is filled with fo­liage and I’ll have a beau­ti­ful wreath on my front door. I also love light­ing scented can­dles, which are of­ten tied with red rib­bon.

When it comes to the fes­tive meal, I tend to en­joy a tra­di­tional Christ­mas lunch with a roast turkey and the usual ad­di­tions, how­ever I do in­clude a bit of a Scan­di­na­vian twist. I like to pre­pare a smor­gas­bord of Swedish foods to start with that can be en­joyed with pre-din­ner drinks. This will in­clude her­ring, gravlax and dressed boiled eggs.

My favourite Christ­mas tip­ple is a ne­groni. Also, when I visit my par­ents in Stock­holm, we al­ways have a few toasts with aqua­vit.

NI­COLE SALVESEN In­te­rior de­signer, salvesen­gra­

For the first time in sev­eral years, I will be spend­ing Christ­mas with all four of my sib­lings and their fam­i­lies at my mother’s house in Kent. I have a feel­ing it won’t be quiet.

The most un­usual gift I’m giv­ing is prob­a­bly the mer­maid tail for my six-year-old. We also have presents at each place set­ting on Christ­mas Day. Ev­ery­one has to guess what it is be­fore they open it – there have been some amus­ing sur­prises over the years!

I go way be­yond the tra­di­tional green and red dec­o­ra­tions at Christ­mas. With three lit­tle girls un­der seven, there is al­ways a lot of sparkle in­volved. We like to col­lect dec­o­ra­tions through­out the year from our var­i­ous trav­els and we love a home-made Christ­mas bauble.

Food is the key el­e­ment of the day and I be­lieve that more is more. I am not a huge fan of turkey so for our Christ­mas feast, we will be opt­ing for

goose or duck. I love cook­ing and try­ing new recipes, so I will be test­ing out canapés on ev­ery­one.

With­out doubt, my ul­ti­mate guest list

would be my fam­ily. For me, the fes­tive pe­riod is all about be­ing sur­rounded by those clos­est to you. The chil­dren rel­ish the ex­cite­ment of Christ­mas and that has re­ally brought back the magic of it all to me and my hus­band.

PHILIPPA CRADDOCK Florist, philip­pacrad­

We will be cel­e­brat­ing Christ­mas in our Sus­sex cot­tage, with fam­ily and friends. The lead-up to Christ­mas is al­ways a lit­tle crazy with work un­til we kick off the fes­tiv­i­ties on the 23rd, which is our youngest’s birth­day.

One of my best tips is a su­per-quick, bril­liant table dec­o­ra­tion for when

you are short on time. Sim­ply line the cen­tre of your table with a mass of pil­lar can­dles, ide­ally in dif­fer­ing heights and widths, and then lay spruce branches in be­tween. If you don’t have any spare, just snip out a cou­ple from the back of your Christ­mas tree. It’s an in­stant, min­i­mal­ist, el­e­gant table set­ting.

When it comes to more un­usual gifts, this year I am giv­ing a se­ries of DJ lessons for one of our chil­dren who has de­cided that is what he would like to do when he is grown up.

My ideal Christ­mas Day meal is sim­ply a late and long lunch. The table will be dressed with plenty of can­dle­light, a soul­ful playlist and a full roast, fol­lowed by the most de­li­cious Christ­mas pud­ding made by my sis­ter-in-law. A dream of mine is to have ev­ery­one to­gether, as our fam­ily is spread far and wide across the world.

We al­ways have an eggnog at this time of year - we make it with al­mond milk, dates and plenty of nut­meg. On my ul­ti­mate guest list would be Ed­die Iz­zard, for his hi­lar­ity and sto­ries of ad­ven­ture; Joan Rivers, for her ge­nius wit; Tom Hanks, for his pos­i­tiv­ity; Coco Chanel, for her el­e­gance and de­sign wis­dom; David Bowie, for the mu­sic; and Oprah Win­frey, for her wise words.

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