THE HOLIDAYS REIMAGINED
Matthew Williamson explains how to be kind to yourself this Christmas while losing none of the season’s beauty or wonder
Matthew Williamson encourages us to embrace the more stripped-back but relaxed Christmas to come
It will all be stripped back, but no less charming for that reason. We’ll be making presents and taking it really slow
IChristmas, ordinarily a time spent running between parties and places, friends and families, to Harrods or Selfridges to pick up last-minute decorative bits for the table or tree, will, undoubtedly, be a more subdued experience all round. The past months have been a roller coaster for everybody and we need to be kind not only to others but to ourselves, especially if hosting loved ones. And so I believe making allowances for yourself and others is key to the success of your festive season.
When we celebrate in the UK, the family is all together in Manchester where I’m from. There are no less than 10 people around the table in a normal year. All the usual shenanigans ensue, of course. This time, though, we’ll be spending Christmas in Majorca where
I live with my partner and my daughter.
It’ll be a quiet one, for obvious reasons, so we’ll be dropping the pomp and ceremony and prepping our home for an intimate, personal approach to festivity.
Celebrations, now, are more bittersweet. But that’s not to say there aren’t ways to make it feel special, to – if not fully celebrate in the normal way
– at least mark the fact we’ve made it through the year. This is the first time my daughter is at an age where she will be engaging with, and participating in, the traditions, so it seems important that we follow some old favourites and set up some new. There will be a Zoom Christmas dinner and frequent calls to friends and family we’d usually be reunited with. I’m looking at this time through her eyes and want to make it really memorable.
It’ll be stripped back, but no less charming for that reason. We’ll be decorating with found foliage and pine cones, making presents for each other and taking it really slow. The Spanish town I live in has a gorgeous atmosphere in winter with Christmas markets that we love to visit – you can always get a mulled wine or a hot chocolate. I adore to see the wonder in my daughter’s eyes as she takes everything in. All these sensory experiences contribute to a feeling of security and comfort.
With that in mind, I’d suggest abandoning any tight colour schemes, rigid decorating or traditional expectations – be eclectic, run wild with colour and pattern. Stick to a few familiar tropes, such as dressing a fireplace with stockings and holly, but add a more personal touch by finishing off that montage with favourite candlesticks and ornaments, beloved treasures that make you feel like you’re home. My favourite spot for inspiration is Renaissance London – it sells glorious antique and reproduction fireplaces to give your home period charm.
Then there’s the Christmas dinner table. I’ll be opting for mismatched plates and serveware, using the indulgently hued plates and trays from my collaboration with Les Ottomans to stop anything becoming too formal. Penny Morrison also has a range of patterned tableware to bring a floral charm to how you dine. Keep lighting romantic – low glows that brighten as the day extends into night. It’s surprisingly wonderful how illuminating the lamps in the evening and lighting candlesticks on the coffee table can become a satisfying, even festive, part of your routine, how creating a cosy atmosphere is a gratifying feature of the day.
Central to all of this calmer outlook is the exhortation from me that you take your foot off the pedal, allowing yourself to embrace the beauty of home in all its assorted, mismatched brilliance. Surprise yourself with the final look – don’t aim for precision, but for a space that looks like you. All that counts is that we move into 2021 feeling rested, comforted and refreshed, and this year, more than ever, that sentiment needs to be the true meaning of the season.
“I’d suggest abandoning any tight colour schemes or rigid decorating expectations – be eclectic, run wild with colour”