‘Queen of Christmas’ Gisela Graham produces around 2,400 decorations every year – but she still loves the festive season
Meet ‘Queen of Christmas’ Gisela Graham
Gisela is the businesswoman behind the decorations you find in department stores and independent boutiques. Originally from Bremen, Germany, she started her company in 1983 as a stay-at-home mum. Her two sons are now grown up and she lives in Fulham, London with her husband Richard and cats, Sissi and Ludwig.
By the time Christmas comes around, I just want to relax!
October to December is my busiest time, because we plan, design and create our decoration ranges for the following Christmas.
People often ask me how much I’m still involved. The answer is: a lot! I look after the Christmas and Easter ranges every year, but have learned to delegate and I have wonderfully talented teams to look after other areas of the business now. I couldn’t imagine not doing it – it’s my life.
I cherry-pick my favourite decorations
before we go to spend the holiday with our son, who lives in Boston. He wraps each one up and gives them away to family, friends and neighbours. It’s one of our little traditions!
I love traditions. They’re what make Christmas so familiar and
make you feel like you’re home, wherever you are in the world. We mix traditions from Germany, the UK and the US, with the celebrations starting at 11pm on Christmas Eve. After church and carols, we come home to eat and the house is alive with people into the early hours of Christmas Day. The German custom is for adults to exchange presents on Christmas Eve, with small presents for children. The children get their stockings on Christmas morning and I make a late breakfast of buttermilk pancakes with crispy bacon.
All my decorations are old.
I’ve collected them over the years, and grew up with some of them. I always have an Advent wreath, or Adventskranz – a wreath with four candles in the middle. Each one represents a week of Advent and you light a new candle every week. Even though we don’t spend Christmas at home in London, I still decorate the house.
We’ve been in this house for more than 20 years.
It was in a terrible state when we moved in – we did a lot to it and it took over five years to complete. It’s put me off redecorating or renovating for life!
Our home is very classic looking: calm and neutral – but not bland.
I don’t like very contemporary spaces. I think they’re quite soulless. They’re very difficult to furnish, too, as you have to have unbelievably good taste and you can’t have too many bits out on show.
Our cloakroom is the only British-looking room, as it has wallpaper.
My style isn’t very British, overall. I’m not keen on things like headboards on beds or button-back sofas.
I love a gallery wall.
I think it’s the most effective way to decorate a home. Pictures, photographs, paintings… whatever you prefer. It’s just so personal and unique. My walls are covered with them!
Fabric heart decorations, £5.25 each, Gisela Graham. Buy now with OWNABLE
ALL IN THE DETAIL Musical wooden house glass dome, £54, Gisela Graham. Buy now with OWNABLE
GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT ‘Iced’ gingerbread stars and snowflakes, £6 each, Gisela Graham Buy now with OWNABLE
FESTIVE & FROSTY White berry and cone wreath (suspended horizontally), £30; assorted baubles, from £2.50 each, all Gisela GrahamBuy now with OWNABLE
FINISHING TOUCHES metallic wood star, £4.20; butterfly mini decorative glass plate, £4.50; feather decorative glass plate, £7.50, all Gisela Graham. Buy now with OWNABLE
‘I LOVE TO GO HOME TO BREMEN – IT’S SO WONDERFUL. THE CATHEDRAL, THE TRAMS… IT’S A BEAUTIFUL PLACE’
THE BIG COUNTDOWN Natural wood treeLED Nativity ornament, £30, Gisela Graham. Buy now with OWNABLE
SEASON’S SCENTSCinnamon & Apple, Clove Spice, Orange & Thyme scented candles, £5.25 each, Gisela Graham. Buy now with OWNABLE
WRAP IT UP Taupe woven stab stitch cotton throw, £21, Gisela Graham. Buy now with OWNABLE
BEDSIDE BUDDYGold foiled feather glass water carafe with glass, £15, Gisela Graham. Buy now with OWNABLE